about the author

Robert Garner McBrearty's stories have been published in a number of places including the Pushcart Prize, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, and North American Review, along with flash fiction stories in New Flash Fiction Review, FlashFiction.net, Eclectica, the Cafe Irreal, and elsewhere.

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The Armchair  

Robert Garner McBrearty

Moments after his wife has shot him and slammed the front door, leaving him alone in the kitchen, bleeding from his side, Samuels starts a slow painful walk toward his armchair in the living room. His cell phone is on the side table next to the chair and if he can make it there, he’ll call 911 and take his shirt off and wrap it around the wound and rest on the armchair and wait for the paramedics. This is the third time he’s been shot in his life and he knows it’s a serious situation all right, but there’s a good chance he can pull through this if the paramedics arrive in time. He hopes she hasn’t locked the door as that will slow the medics down. He’s never known her not to lock the door, but she’s never shot him before either so it’s a learning experience for both of them.

He cups his hand to his side and the blood slips through his fingers. Dripping blood across the kitchen floor, noticing the cracked yellow linoleum, damn, should have replaced that years ago, he walks heavy-legged toward the brown armchair and he is reminded of the back surgery he had as a young man coming back from the war when a male nurse got in his face and told him he had to walk if he was going to get better but it hurt so bad he couldn’t even make it across the room before begging to lie back down, and then later there was another surgery in another hospital and he was in bed and his wife was trying to press a spoonful of foul gray soup through his clamped lips and making little eat, baby noises to encourage him and he cursed at her and slapped the spoon out of her hand and she jumped back like he’d struck her.

As he gets close to the armchair, the pain is mostly gone, turned to a strange numbness in his side that’s spreading down his legs. He comes to a halt, his eyes traveling beyond the armchair. He gazes through the window into his back yard, mesmerized by the autumn sky, the high limbs of the trees shadowing his house.

A bird flies past the window. He blinks, resettles his gaze on the armchair, and clanks forward with jerking steps. It’s a big brown armchair, with wide welcoming arms. His wife had picked it out for them in happier days, and they’d made love on that armchair, her legs sticking up over his shoulders in that great flexible way she had. They had been happy once and it’s a shame that instead of working things out, all she could think to do was shoot him. But as he sinks into the softness and depth of the armchair, he’s cautiously optimistic because he knows she’s a good shot and she could have killed him if she had wanted.

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