The Smell of Green Onions

Sej Harman

“Liar! You an’ yo’ skanky women. You can rot in hell for all I care.” The purplish welt on her left cheekbone from last night’s beat-down pulsed with her rage, her words loud and clear despite the split in her lower lip.

Tony leaned against the door jamb, the raggedy screen of the door cupping his butt as he struggled to keep his balance. “You damn bitch! You gonna regret ever word out yo’ mouth. You got no right to say a thang about where I go or what I do . . . or WHO I do! Y’ain’t my momma and you sure ain’t my wife. You just the help anymore, far as I’m concerned, an’ not all that great at that. An’ you sure ain’t tellin’ ME nothin’ ’bout skank. You’s way too skanky yo’self, if you’d ever pass a mirror and it don’t break. Ha! Now, dammit, leave me alone.”

He balled his right hand and shook it just inches from her face, sure she’d turn away like usual. She stood her ground, narrowing her eyes in a defiant glare. “I’ll teach you a thing or two, bitch,” he said as he lurched with a jab at her jaw. He swished air as she jerked back and scuttled into the kitchen. Drunk as he was — and pissed — he was alert to where his path would cross Brenda’s in his escape to the living room. His eyes darted toward the kitchen just as Brenda charged him at him, enraged beyond all seeing. She’d grabbed the chef’s knife from the counter, pungent green onion tops clinging to the blade.

Tony tried to jump sideways. Not the Jack-Be-Nimble of the bar-room dance floor he’d once been, he stumbled, grabbing toward the old lava lamp on the end table. Down he went, hard, as Brenda swung the knife, her face contorted with rage. He’d really done it this time, he thought just before he felt a searing sting through his Harley Davidson tee. His best shirt, too.

As blood began to trace the edges of the cut across his chest, Brenda loomed over him, legs splayed on either side of his knees like a female Colossus straddling the harbor, the knife clenched in her fist. Instinctively, he put up his arms and turned his head as she thrust it toward his face, mere millimeters from his nose.

“Ha!” she cackled as he winced, bellowing down at him. “You chicken shit. No wonder you wear that yeller Harley shirt all the time. Well, I’ve more’n had it up to here,” drawing the back of the blade against her throat, “and you ain’t gonna get away with it again. Ever.”

Brenda bent deep from her waist and waggled the blade an inch from his eyes. She grabbed his belt, jerking it hard against his spine. Holding it tight, she worked the frayed leather end out of the Harley buckle with the same hand. Tony gasped at her viciousness when she pulled on the belt. Damn, Brenda was strong when she was mad, he admitted with grudging admiration as he tried to twist away. Terrified, he whimpered as he shielded his face, none too sure that he hadn’t finally pushed her over the edge.

“You son of a bitch, you gonna regret ever — I mean ever — messing wid me. Takin’ me for granite. Thinkin’ you can come and go as you please with no repocussions. Well I’m gonna ‘repocuss’ on you so bad you’ll wish you died and gone to hell.”

His breath came fast and shallow. Tony looked wildly around, one an eye on the blade that blinked red reflections of the lava lamp. Sweat poured from his forehead as he chuffed and squirmed, pinioned by Brenda’s wrath.

She tugged the belt from the loops on his jeans, ripping one completely off the waistband. She was so close now, breathing hard through her mouth, the acrid odor of her wicked glee so pungent in his face he could taste it. His own sweat trickled into his left ear, a maddening sensation he could do nothing about, fearing a second swipe from the huge knife.

Brenda jerked at his jeans, the right leg, then the left, dragging them from his butt and down his thighs. Tony’s whimpers got louder and whinier. He begged, “Brenda, baby, please, you know I love you. You the only one for me, them others, they don’t mean nothin’. Please baby, don’t do nothin’ you’ll regret. You know I’m the best for you. We go together so right and you don’ wanna mess that up. Baby, please.” His terror mounted as Brenda worked the jeans down. Tony trembled in fear . . . and peed his pants.

Not to be sweet-talked this time, Brenda was on a mission now. He knew she had the upper hand, flashing that blade far too close for comfort. One slip and he was a goner.

She was gasping as she worked the jeans, one leg at a time, toward his feet. “Well, Mr. Spit and Swagger, now you gonna wish you’d died quick by the time I get through with you. You cain’t treat me bad NO more. Nope. Never again!”

She raised the knife. Tony passed out.

Hours later — it coulda been minutes or days, he had no clue — Tony woke, still flat on his back in the living room. He hardly dared move, but he flexed his cramped fingers. Keeping his hands as close to his body as possible, he inched them up, ready to feel the slick blood he knew was oozing from his slashed throat. He felt nothing . . . no blood, no cuts. His nostrils flared as he let out the breath he’d been holding since he’d come to. He rotated his neck gingerly, relieved that his head didn’t fall off. As his eyes grew accustomed to the room, he realized Brenda was no longer standing over him with the knife. He could no longer smell the green onions.

Carefully cutting his eyes toward the sagging sofa, he spied Brenda’s legs, fuzzy with a week’s growth and jammed into nasty bunny slippers, stretching toward the coffee table. He couldn’t be sure, but he thought he heard gentle snoring. Couldn’t take the chance of awakening the monster.

His breath seeped out as his fingers inched toward his crotch, terrified of what he would find — or wouldn’t. Could a man lose his family jewels and not know it? Had Brenda done a “Lorena Bobbitt” on him and he’d not been roused by the pain? These thoughts railed through his brain as he slid his hands down to his groin, hoping against hope there’d be no blood, no gaping wound where his manhood had been.

His muscles were sore and his butt cold and damp, but everything else seemed normal. No blood slicked his hands, no pain shot through him as he quickly explored the area. He hiccoughed as he sucked in his breath and held it. Nothing. He exhaled slowly. Raising his head and shoulders, he propped on his elbows to check more closely. It hit him, like a brick thrown straight at his head: Brenda hadn’t emasculated him. She’d left his precious stones, which she liked to play with, in their own little jewel bag, the lone “sentinel” guarding them as usual. He grinned. At that moment, he couldn’t be happier. Relief swept over him, almost palpable, and he felt the giggles rise.

Tony stopped short as it dawned on him what he was seeing. The jeans Brenda’d jerked out from under him were crumpled around his ankles, but there was no left leg lying parallel to the hairy and freckled right one. She’d pulled off his leg — the one the government had given him after Viet Nam. He couldn’t get up with just the one.

“Bren-n-n-da!” he bellowed.

Brenda awoke with a start from a Gentleman Jack-fueled sleep. Her rampage had run out of steam when Tony had fainted. She stretched her legs and arms hard, her feet arching to keep them from cramping, the blood-tinged knife still in her hand.

“Brenda, you bitch. What’d you do? What’d you do with my leg? You better not . . . ”

“Shut it, Tony. You know you don’ wanna mess with me, the state I’m in.” Now fully awake, Brenda struggled to get to her feet from the deep sofa cushions.

He took a long look at Brenda and, seeing the knife, changed tactics. He wheedled in his softest, sexiest voice, “Baby, honey . . . Brenda, you know I love you, don’cha? You gotta know that, after all we been through together. You gotta know . . . ”

“Know nothing, Tony. I don’t know nothin’ no more. But I know more’n you now. I learned somethin’ you ain’t never learned — and obviously ain’t never gonna learn. I’m a person, not some shiftless drunk’s bitch. Not some piece o’ shit you can treat any ole whichaway. I know you ain’t gonna hurt me no more — and the cops’ll know it now. NO more abusin’ me and thinkin’ you’ll get away with it. I finally got a skill I can use for me. My ‘culinary’ skill!”

“Come on, baby . . . ”

Brenda shuffled over in her bunnies and once again stood over him, grinning at the hapless man in his manly Harley tee. If she’d been of a mind, she coulda felt sorry for him. But she wasn’t and she didn’t.

“But, honey,” he whined, “But . . . ”

“No buts about it, Tony.” Brenda snorted as she slowly drew out her thought: “Because you got a leg to stand on, but ONLY one!” Her guffaw split the air. “IF you can get up off your sorry butt!”

Arms akimbo, she stood there, laughing to beat the band, her bulk rippling as the torrent of long-pent emotion coursed through her. Brenda wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve, reveling in the unexpected thrill of victory.

She turned and walked back to the kitchen, the blood-edged knife at her side, green onions scenting the air. She turned to face him, radiating a new confidence. “It’s in the yard, Tony, in the yard, along with yo’ spare. They’ll prob’ly be there when the cops come for yo’ ass.”

SEJ HARMAN plumbs the depths of her creative spirit through writing and art, currently failing at throwing a decent pot. She worked with and for kids from kindergarten to college age before recently retiring from a public university. As a freelance editor and writer, she supports Harley with the comforts of dog-dom and pays the mortgage. A native South Carolinian, she mines her large, quirky family as well as the local news for story ideas, especially the small absurdities of real life. Previous stories have been accepted by Six Sentences, Raphael’s Village, and Long Story Short.

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