There was thumping coming from the bathroom. Slow at first, then gradually faster, and then a big sound like a bundle of logs being dropped.
Where’s the soap? She called through the door.
I don’t know. Where is it usually?
The door creaked open and her head appeared, face slightly red. If it were where it is usually, she said, would I have asked you where it is?
Well it’s in there somewhere.
Are you sure sweetie?
Yeah, it has to be.
He stood up from the couch, walked over and stuck his head in the bathroom door. She was back looking in the cabinet under the sink now. Moving items around: toilet paper, baby powder, tampons. There was no available physical space large enough to be occupied by the 8-Pak of Lever 2000® Pure Rain™ bath bars she had instructed him to buy. But she kept looking anyway.
Are you sure you even bought it?
I mean, yeah.
She put down a half-rolled-up tube of triple antibiotic ointment and looked up at him. The triple antibiotic ointment had been purchased for their cat when it had been bitten by a gopher. Later their son fell off his bike and got a scratch. She had insisted on purchasing a new, separate tube of ointment, even though he had looked it up on the internet and the one for cats was the exact same ingredients as the one for people. You’re sure.
Look, I don’t have a specific memory of the soap among 15,000 other items. But I bought it. OK? It’s gonna be fine. Maybe it’s in the kitchen.
She followed him. Why would you put it in the kitchen?
I don’t know. Maybe I filed it under “cleaning products” in my mind.
In the cabinet under the kitchen sink, arrayed beneath the gooseneck, were the 3-Pak of duel surface dish sponge/ pot scrubbers, the new yellow latex gloves, and the Reduced Environmental Harm pine cleaner he had purchased. No soap.
Look, he said, I bought it. I remember now, because we had the coupon. I remember giving her the coupon. She said it was only for the 12-Pak and they were out of 12-Paks but the manager came over and told her to give it to me for the 8-Pak. So I definitely bought it. It’s here somewhere.
OK, “somewhere” doesn’t do me any good though. It exists, that’s great, but it’s not helpful. What I want to know is where did you put it.
I mean I thought I put it where the soap usually goes…
She put her palm to her forehead. Inhaled. OK, obviously you didn’t. I have to go. Can you just think?
I’ve been thinking. I’m not… we’d have to call in a hypnotist to reconstruct what I did with the soap. It’s gonna turn up honey. Why don’t you get in the shower and use shampoo. I’ll bring it in to you if I find it.
I’m not going to wash my armpits and asshole with shampoo. This is an office, I can’t start smelling like fucking taint halfway through the day–
Well you’re the one who’s freaking out about being late. I’m trying to be constructive.
Constructive? It’s not helping, OK? It’s not helping. It’s not like you have a lot to do around here, and the one fucking thing I want, the one thing I ask you for–
That’s not fair.
You have no job, you bring in no money, and you can’t even make sure we have basic things like soap in the fucking house. You can’t even–
It’s not like you’re some emotional rock, either. My work is fucking hard and you can’t even listen to me–
Will you just stop please.
My sister says your lack of engagement is a form of emotional abuse. I’m starting to think–
Let me tell you something. Your sister does not give a FUCK about you or anything else that isn’t her. I don’t know what the fuck, she’s… abuse? Abuse??
Don’t talk about her like that.
No, it’s bullshit. She read about some new form of “abuse” on the internet and she thought: how can I get Astrid to move out so I can split the rent. She wants more fucking booze money. She does not give a fuck, she is using you–
Don’t talk about her– you don’t know anything about her.
I know everything I need to know and I know this is another fucking bullshit way she figured out to use you, so don’t start quoting her to me about– about the FUCKING SOAP. Jesus.
At least she listens to me.
FOR CHRIST’S FUCKING SAKE, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU? She is a WHORE–
Don’t say that.
You know what? You’re a fucking whore too. You act like I’m some fucking bum who’s lucky to have you. I’ve been out of work THREE WEEKS, it’s not the god damn Great Depression. You were a WHORE. You came from NOTHING. You FUCKED OLD MEN for MONEY. You are LUCKY that ANYONE would fucking have you. And you bite my FUCKING head off about the… FUCKING… SOAP!
She was on him before he knew what was happening. She had a lucky hit, the chef’s knife went right under his ribs. It felt hot. He tried to breath but but only got half full; on his left side the air was hissing out of a wet hole and it felt like someone was standing on his chest in boots. He was sitting now. The room moved like when you’d had too many drinks and woke up on the couch in your clothes, trying to lift your head off the pillow. Moving like a boat. Then he was lying down. He was shaking but couldn’t feel it so much anymore. When he was a boy he saw a mother cat get run over, her body scissoring frantically in the street as the kittens looked on from the sidewalk. He must be scissoring like that. The floor was warm.
There was a lot of blood. Every book where someone stabs someone, she thought, they always remarked: so much blood. It was always more than they expected. But she was able to form a dam with some dish towels to pool it up, keep it on the tile and off the carpet. Her hands were shaking. She had read about this too. Everything was going down exactly as described in countless novels about murder. His blood was all over her forearms. If she could get his body on a dolly she could get in in the trunk, and she could burn it down to something manageable out behind the dump after work. After a day or two she would call the police and say he’d disappeared. Were there any problems in the home, they would ask. Did he have issues with drinking or drugs. Yes and yes. Eventually they would give up. He probably skipped town and went to Mexico. It happens all the time.
She would only be a little late. She went back into the bathroom to check on herself. No bruises, no scratches. Everything looked fine, except the blood. Fortunately the soap was sitting on top of the sink.