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Conquistador of the Useless by Joshua Isard

Conquistador of the Useless by Joshua Isard

Author:Joshua Isard [Isard, Joshua]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781935955559
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press


The call with the Sirs, about storage and shipping logistics, is like having a corkscrew turned into my temple—it is painful and something essential drains out of me.

When I get home after work I take my tea to the patio and look at the spruces lining my yard, at the bare branches of the maple towering over the house behind mine, at the Harrisons’ pin oak which looks like it has a coating of frost instead of leaves. I didn’t bring gloves out so I use my mug to keep my hands warm. When the tea’s done I shove my hands in the pockets of my pea coat and lean forward in my chair.

Except for the few passing cars, I only hear the evergreen needles brushing against each other in the light breezes. I don’t get up until Lisa pulls her car into the driveway. Then I go inside to meet her, and when she sees me she asks why my face is so red.

I tell her that I was having my tea on the patio. She says that I should spend a little less time out there in the winter.

Probably, I say, but I like the cold.

The cold makes your skin angry, she says.

I think that I’m married and I don’t care too much anymore.

We both go upstairs and change into hoodies and sweatpants, then I follow Lisa to the kitchen where she starts chopping vegetables for a stir-fry dinner.

I lean against the table and tell her that I saw Tom Harrison at Starbucks that morning.

Oh, she says, and is he still your buddy?

No, I say, he thinks I’m a creep trying to corrupt Rayanne.

She stops moving the knife and looks at me like she’s expecting me to finish.

I tried to talk about it with him, I say, but he just said he supports his friend who thinks Cat’s Cradle is a lewd book, which it isn’t. Critical, yes, but lewd, not really.

She says, Do you really think this is about literary criticism?

No, I say.

I shift my weight a little but there’s no way for me to get comfortable.

I say, the Beales ignored me yesterday while they walked their dog past the house.

Really? she says as she resumes chopping.

Yeah, the sweet old Beales.

How about that, she says, then moves the vegetables to the side before taking out the chicken to cut that up.

I’m sorry, I say, I shouldn’t have given her that book.

OK, she says.

She turns on the burner and gets out three bottles of sauce for the food. I see that this isn’t quite resolved. All husbands know that it’s not enough to apologize, you have to correctly articulate what you’re apologizing for.

There’s nothing illicit about the whole thing, I say. I’m just thinking about Dan and Jon, my high school friends, how they showed me all the stuff I ended up loving.

Were your high school friends in their thirties? she asks.

No.

Then it’s not really the same, she says, is it?

She takes the cutting board and spills everything into the wok.



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