by Richard Hartwell
Received the call at school,
called from the classroom
with a P.E. teacher to cover;
said it was an emergency call
from my wife; had to answer.
Took it in the library, publicly,
surrounded by young literature,
out-of-date encyclopedias, old
card catalogues, and wood tables;
“Royal’s dead,” she said. “What?!”
“Royal’s dead,” she repeated,
adding that he hanged himself.
She said hung, but the teacher
had to correct her; stupid to do it,
the hanging too, and she grew angry.
Later, when reaching his sister,
learned that their younger brother
found Royal hanging in his closet
after the weekend when he didn’t
show up for the graveyard shift.
He’d kicked over a chair, but had
not broken his neck, only strangled
slowly with lots of time to think
about the last time his wife left him,
taking the kid and his truck with only
eight payments left, on the truck,
many left yet on his young son;
asked, “Did you call his wife?” in
innocence; “That red-headed bitch
hung up when she heard my voice,”
his sister told me; that’s right,
recalling, his wife was a redhead
just as he is, was, had been, his
kid too; that’s how he found her, a
website to match and join gingers.
They guaranteed compatibility;
Royal’s still waiting for a refund.