Friday, February 7, 2020

Kitty Favor by Otto Burnwell

Eddie Berger suddenly gives up porn, and his colleagues want to know why; by Otto Burnwell.

For as long as Eddie Berger worked in the tool crib at Spring Ranch Manufactured Homes, he'd been the go-to guy for porno magazines and videos. He always had hard-core stuff stashed in his locker and under the workbench to pass around on breaks.

Then, out of nowhere, he cut the guys off without a word. One day he's passing it around, making jokes, and next day, nothing. Stopped bringing it in, didn't keep it in his locker anymore, even took down the pin-ups taped inside on his locker door. He didn't say why. It wasn't just about himself, either. If someone else brought stuff to pass around, Eddie waved his hand in their face, saying he didn't have time for that shit, and how he had work to do. He'd be out of the room quicker than a hot-buttered cat.

A couple of the guys joked Eddie must have got religion. Being a part-time churchgoer with his wife hadn't kept Eddie from sneaking out late at night to the one good strip club on County Line road. But he quit doing that, too.

Some of the other guys figured the personnel manager got hold of Eddie. A few others said Eddie's wife, Kitty, finally caught him with the stuff. Nobody asked Eddie straight out and Eddie didn't say. Instead, the guys pestered Dillon Shanks, Eddie Berger's best friend since grade school, to find out what was going on with Eddie. Dillon didn't know any more than they did, and, he told them, he wasn't going to ask. He'd come off sounding like a needy perv.

Dillon didn't see how it would make any difference if Kitty had caught him.

Before Eddie went full prude on everyone, he bragged about how he'd finesse the question if Kitty did find out.

Back when Eddie first mentioned how he'd handle Kitty, it wasn't because anyone asked him. He came out with it on his own. Like he'd been thinking long and hard on it for a while.

When Eddie first brought it up, he and Dillon were taking their lunch break at the picnic tables under the shade trees near the Spring Ranch parking lot.

"What's it women hate most about porn?" asked Eddie, digging out the last few crumbs in his bag of chips.

Dillon's own wife, Faye Lorraine, said she'd cut Dillon's nuts off if she caught him with it. Then he could see how he liked whacking off with nothing in the tank. So, no, Dillon didn't spend much time thinking about what it was women hated about pornography. Some did and some didn't and that's all he cared to know.

"Seeing women who look like that, doing stuff like that?" Dillon could feel Faye Lorraine's breath on his neck.

"No."

"Seeing you look at women like that doing stuff like that?"

"No."

"Okay, what?"

"You looking at your wife, thinking," said Eddie, tapping his temple, "about women like that while you two're doing stuff like that."

Dillon might have done that a couple of times, sure, but not like Faye Lorraine would know, and not like he'd ever say so to Eddie.

"What I tell Kitty  -  or what I'd tell her if she ever found out  - is how I always see her and me. Always. Every single picture, it's me and her."

"Every single picture?"

"Yep."

"Videos?"

"Yep."

"Internet?"

"Yep. From day one, the minute we got married, I went, click," Eddie flipped an imaginary toggle behind his ear, "and flipped on the old true-love switch. I don't see any other woman but Kitty." Eddie finished off his soda. "Whatever I'm looking at," he said, tapping the tabletop, then used his fingers to trace his line of sight from his eyes to the picture he imagined under his hand, "it's not any other girl. Only Kitty. That, my friend, is how true love works. She can't bitch about that, can she." It wasn't a question. Eddie smiled and stuck the empty soda can in the lunch sack and pitched everything into the trash.

"Not possible," said Dillon.

"It is if you practice. Even if Kitty's working late and all I can do is spank the monkey? I'm thinking of it being Kitty. In fact, there's no spine in the pine anymore if I do try picturing someone else."

Dillon laughed and ducked his head into his arm resting on the picnic table.

"What?"

"You. Jacking off."

"Come on, you don't?" Eddie reached over and popped Dillon on the head.

Now, since his big freeze-out, Eddie made it clear to leave off talking women or sex any time he sat with the guys at lunch.

The guys kept after Dillon to find out what was up. He ought to know, they said. He and Eddie lived next door to each other since they were kids. They grew up together on the same block of tract homes, then later as grown-ups lived in single-wide trailers parked next to each other at the Ardent Gardens Mobile Home Court.

Dillon thought it more likely Faye Lorraine would have heard something. She and Kitty talked all the time. But Faye Lorraine never mentioned anything that would explain a big change like that. Although it was peculiar, Dillon was glad to leave it go and not get Eddie started up again. Still, Eddie seemed to be getting worse. Like he wasn't sleeping, bottling up something bad.

Turned out Dillon didn't have to ask. About a week after Eddie started all his weirdness, he told Dillon straight out. He'd found pictures of Kitty doing porn. Back when she was in college.

What's a guy supposed to think when his best friend says something like that? Dillon didn't have a clue.

Dillon and Eddie, as close as two kids could be, only had two fistfights in their entire lives. Both with each other and both over Kitty back when she was still Kitty Favor.

In junior high, Eddie had sworn Dillon to secrecy, then confessed how crazy it made him watching Kitty in PE class sweating in her too-tight gym outfit. Back then, Kitty was a gnomish, early blooming, light brunette. Eddie told Dillon how he couldn't stop thinking about her all snugged up and busting out. He said it was better than filching his oldest brother's skin mags.

Dillon didn't think much of Kitty's looks. The girls in the stolen magazines were better looking. Dillon said as much to Eddie. For that, Eddie punched him in the chest. Mrs. Morgan, their home room teacher, caught them before Dillon could punch him back. To get even, Dillon told Kitty's best friend Zoë about Eddie having the hots for Kitty. Dillon figured it made up for the bruise on his breastbone that hurt for a week.

When Eddie found out about Dillon shooting his mouth off to Zoë, he laid into him big time. Their fight turned into the kind of school yard battle that brought the rest of the kids running. Dillon and Eddie did a good job busting each other up, their knuckles and knees scraped raw, their lips and noses bloodied.

For whatever reason, their bloody battle endeared Eddie to Kitty. From then on she was Eddie's girl all the way through high school.

The second time Eddie laid into Dillon happened around the time Kitty decided to go out of state to college. Dillon saw Kitty being gone as Eddie's chance to check out other girls. Real girls. Not the ones in the tittie books they passed around. Dillon figured with Kitty gone, it was open season for Eddie. But Eddie told Dillon to shut his face or he'd shut it for him. There was no way he'd cheat on Kitty. That's the whole point of buying porn, said Eddie.

Dillon kept on digging at Eddie, calling him pussy-whipped. Dillon told Eddie that lots of college guys are so hard up, they didn't care if a girl was good-looking or not. He said Kitty would make the most of it while she could, so he should, too.

Eddie was on top of Dillon instantly, leaving them both bruised and bloodied. But it was Dillon who promised never to talk about Kitty doing it with anyone else ever again, if Eddie would give in and quit swinging.

From that time on, Dillon was careful never to let the separate ideas of Kitty and sex join up inside his head. When Eddie told him about finding the pictures of her, Dillon couldn't imagine what Kitty looked like in a swimsuit, much less naked.

"Close your mouth," said Eddie.

They were eating lunch at the picnic tables and Dillon had stopped mid-chew, a wad of tuna fish showing.

"No chance," said Dillon, talking around the bite of sandwich.

But by the look on Eddie's face as he pushed at his own sandwich, it might as well be yesterday, like after church or something.

"Un-unh," said Dillon, shaking his head and swallowing. He looked for a smirk or a grin or something from Eddie showing it was a joke.

"No shit."

"What's Kitty say?" Dillon didn't know how he should react and not get a knuckle slugged into his chest again.

"What're you using for brains? Monkey turds? I'm not going to ask her that. She'll want to know how I found out."

"How did you find out?"

"How do you think?"

"What, uh, what kind of stuff did you find?" Outside, Dillon made a face, acting icked out for Eddie's sake. Inside, hard core images of what Eddie might have found began to seep under Dillon's defenses, trickling into his imagination.

"What'd'ya think, y'virgin." Eddie twisted away as he squeezed his soda can into a crumpled ball of aluminum. He shook off the drops of soda that had dribbled out onto his hand.

Once Eddie had opened his big mouth to Dillon there at lunch, he talked about it constantly, until Dillon couldn't keep his eyes off Kitty's big behind.

Eddie wouldn't shut up about it. It's all he talked about with Dillon.

"She did some stuff years ago she doesn't want you knowing about." Dillon shrugged. "You do tons a shit you don't want her knowing about."

"The big deal is she's a hypocrite."

"How?"

"It's okay for guys she doesn't know to get off looking at pictures of her, but it's not okay for me?"

"You got the real thing."

"Not pictures of her, dimwit. Other girls."

This is Kitty from junior high we're talking about, Dillon kept thinking. This is Kitty and Eddie being together longer than anyone else he knew. Dillon couldn't imagine Kitty doing anything like that. He'd have to see it with his own eyes.

Listening to Eddie going on and on chipped away at Dillon's resistance until he told Eddie to show him proof or shut up about it. Dillon figured there was no way Eddie would show him a single picture of Kitty nude, much less going all out with someone else. Eddie would have to leave Dillon alone, let his brain cool off.

But Eddie agreed.

Which is why Dillon was sitting at Eddie and Kitty Berger's kitchen table on a Saturday morning, instead of cutting the grass on his tiny patch of lawn. Why he was watching Kitty take forever to collect dirty clothes for a trip to the laundromat. Why he was squirming for her to go so Eddie could show him the proof without her being around.

It was hard not to stare at Kitty. His mind stayed fixed on all Eddie had told him about the pictures he found. Like the kinds of pictures from the magazines and videos Eddie used to pass around. Dillon kept his hand up, fussing with his eyebrows and massaging his forehead, hoping it would keep Kitty from seeing his thoughts written in red marker all over his face.

Dillon hadn't bothered thinking about Kitty naked and never about her having sex with Eddie or with anyone else. Until now. Dillon found it got easier with practice the last few weeks. Lots of practice. The more Dillon said it wasn't true, that Eddie was dicking with him, the more Eddie insisted it was true. He had the pictures to prove it. Now Kitty was pretty much all Dillon could think about. Thank you all the way to hell and back again, Eddie.

Dillon studied Kitty through half-closed eyes, his head canted away as if studying the nail heads in the paneling under the window.

Kitty's hair was reddish-gold, a rinse to cover up new gray. She was short, fullish, kind of shapey, Dillon would say, mostly butt and leg and a big bosom on a short torso.

This morning, she was wearing flip-flops, a low-hung top, and jeans cut down for shorts with the legs hacked off all the way up to the crotch-seam. She was going like an oil pumpjack. The way she bent and stretched to fling items into the basket made her butt cheeks bulge out the leg holes of her shorts.

Dillon winced and rubbed an imaginary pain in his elbow in case Kitty had noticed him watching her.

Damn, damn, damn Eddie for greasing his brain this way. Kitty slid in where Faye Lorraine belonged, taking over with a bare-skinned fantasy getting warmer by the minute.

Dillon panicked. For a good long moment he couldn't remember what Faye Lorraine looked like naked. Dillon was staring hard at the texture of the white ceiling overhead, running through every female backside he could recall ever seeing, trying to pick out Faye Lorraine's bare behind.

Finally, Kitty grabbed the car keys from the dish on the credenza by the door, did a little finger wiggle of goodbye at Dillon. She took up both mesh hampers by their handles, and lugged them to the car, the door clacking shut behind her.

Gravity itself seemed to lighten and the air rushed back into the room so Dillon could breathe again.

Dillon heard Kitty start the car. Eddie came out of the back and went to the window. He pulled the curtain aside, making sure Kitty was on her way to the laundromat. Eddie clutched an over-stuffed, honey golden envelope to his chest.

Jeez, was all Dillon could think.

Eddie sat across from Dillon, studying him, holding onto the envelope.

Dillon worked hard to keep his mouth twisted up, his face the perfect picture of a reluctant voyeur.

Eddie laid the envelope on the table between them. He ran his hand over the paper, turned the envelope, and opened the flap.

Eddie slid out the first picture on plain paper, printed off the internet. A naked woman, alone on a bed, her back to the camera, her backside the focal point of the picture.

Dillon lowered his gaze down onto the picture, then looked up at Eddie.

"You say that's Kitty?" Dillon wanted it to be Kitty.

"Of course it's her."

"The only thing you can see is from the back." It didn't look enough like Kitty.

"You can't see that's her back?"

"No, because  -" Dillon almost said, 'because she was never that skinny,' but he cut himself off.

"Because why?"

"It doesn't look like her, okay?"

"This was back in college. She doesn't look the same now."

"Not that different," said Dillon, poking a finger at the woman's buttocks. He picked up his soda can.

Eddie pulled out another picture. This one of a woman dressed in a snug, red lace nightie, stockings, and clear plastic heels. Face down in the lap of a guy, her hair made a tent over whatever she might be doing to him.

Dillon rolled his eyes, giving a shake of his head. "You think I know what Kitty looks like naked I could tell her ass from yours?"

"Then I'm telling you, that's her ass."

"Maybe to you. But it doesn't prove anything to me."

Eddie pulled out another picture, nearly ripping it, and laid it on top of the first. This picture had the woman straddling a guy laid out on a lounge chair next to a pool. She faced front, but her head was down, her hair covering her face as she watched the guy underneath her.

Dillon looked from the picture to Eddie and back again. He squinted.

"Satisfied?" asked Eddie.

No chance. But Dillon said, "Maybe. I can't tell, is all."

Eddie's eyes narrowed. "You can go screw yourself, is all." Eddie slapped his hand on the pictures and pulled them back. "No way I'm going to sit here and keep showing you pictures of Kitty." But he didn't make Dillon leave.

"You're the one said you had the pictures to prove it." Dillon's mouth watered up, a saliva bubble catching in his throat. "Looking at these? I say you're getting worked up over nothing."

"Nothing? What do you think's going to happen when one of the guys brings in something, and it's Kitty? 'Look at this, Eddie. How about this, Eddie? You been holding out on us, Eddie.' What am I supposed to do?"

"Nothing. Because they won't. How're they going to see it's Kitty, if I can't?" Dillon jabbed his finger at the pictures.

Eddie shook his head, eyes fixed on Dillon, sizing him up, sizing up their friendship it looked like to Dillon. "You're being square with me, right? You don't see it's her? None of those pictures I already showed you, you don't see it's her?"

"No."

"You need to see something with her face in it?"

"You want me to believe Kitty could do something like that, yes." Dillon shrugged, a new, harder edge of impatience, wanting it to be Kitty, not something that was a little bit Kitty-like. Then he said, "But you don't have to." Not quite sounding like he meant it.

Eddie sighed, deep and wounded. He spread open the envelope again then stopped. "You're my best friend, right?"

"Unless you grew up with someone else I don't know about."

Eddie sorted through the contents. He pulled out another page torn from another magazine. He studied it like he was deciding how much of a betrayal to Kitty this would be.

"Okay."

"Kitty doing it. For real?"

"Doing it. For real."

"You can see her face?"

"Yes, you can see her face. Asshole."

Eddie laid out the picture in front of Dillon like he'd proved Bigfoot, crop circles, and little green men from Mars all in this one picture. He smoothed away the wrinkles, resting his hand over the page for a long moment. He raised his hand as if ready to slap it back down. But he didn't.

Dillon had kept his eyes fixed on Eddie, counting off long seconds to prove his indifference.

"Now you tell me that's not her getting slammed."

Dillon looked down at the picture in front of him.

That was some serious slamming. Nothing fake about it.

Dillon looked up. Eddie wore the sour face of a man brought low, letting another man look on his wife's nakedness, even if it was his best friend.

"This  -" Dillon stopped, then started again, "this chick is Asian." Dillon, angry, twisted the picture upright in front of Eddie.

Eddie slapped down the picture. "I know exactly what you're doing. Because I'm not stupid and you're not blind!" Eddie, red-faced and shouting, stood up from his chair."

"Are you?" Dillon shouted back. "You'd have to be, if you can't see she's Chinese or Japanese or something!"

Dillon ripped the envelope from under Eddie's hand. "Gimme those." Dillon yanked out picture after picture, looking and flinging them. Dillon wanted one picture, one single grubby, grainy picture to be the Kitty that matched the lewdly lusted up images lured from the darkest creases of his imagination.

"Not this one, not this one, not this one." Dillon slapped at the pages, sending them flying.

Eddie sifted through the pictures still on the table. He grabbed up another, holding it in front of Dillon's face.

"Can you see her face clear enough in this one? Okay. See what she's doing?" He held up another picture. "Can you see her face clear enough in this one? Look at what she's doing here. Can you see that?" Eddie looked like he was going to cry.

Dillon flopped back in the chair, staring at his best friend since grade school.

"When did this all start?" asked Dillon.

"College. Didn't I tell you that already?" Eddie slid the pictures into a rough pile on the table.

"No, dickhead, when did you start thinking these were Kitty?"

"When it finally dawned on me. The reason my brain was seeing Kitty in all those pictures was because it was Kitty." Eddie slapped himself upside the head. "Stupid! I wasn't pretending to see her. I was pretending to see her the way she is, so I didn't have to see her the way she was." Eddie shook his head. "They weren't kidding when they say true love's blind."

Or crazy, thought Dillon.

Eddie must have read it on Dillon's face because he glared at him. "You think I'm making it up?"

"I don't know. You're the one with the switch."

"What switch?"

"The true-love switch." Dillon flicked the imaginary switch behind his ear. "Turns all of the women in these pictures into Kitty?" Dillon picked up one of the pictures. "Which they are not!"

"Then what the hell is this?" Eddie held up another picture in front of Dillon and pushed it into his face.

"Yeah. What the hell is this?" Kitty stood on the scattered pictures, her arms crossed, car keys dangling from her fist. "I forgot my quarters."

Eddie and Dillon twisted in their chairs.

Dillon froze. For maybe nine seconds, Dillon's guts were water. He tried to think of something that would explain away Eddie's pictures spread out on the table between them, and all over the floor around their feet. Then it hit him. He didn't have to. It was all Eddie's problem.

Dillon got up and weaved around Kitty who didn't look at him, keeping her eyes fixed on Eddie.

Kitty waited until Dillon was out the door, then unloaded on Eddie, which Dillon could hear all the way over to his place.

The fight between Kitty and Eddie went on and on, behind the darkened windows of their trailer. It bubbled up then died away like an indecisive lava geyser blowing off every now and then, the liquid fury of an objectified woman.

Faye Lorraine made dinner while she watched out the window at Eddie and Kitty's place. She couldn't fathom what they possibly had to fight about. She was keen to know, but not so keen on getting between them to find out. Dillon hadn't yet figured what kind of explanation would get him off the hook with Faye Lorraine. So he said nothing, just shook his head at all her questions. He backed up his ignorance with a shrug and his usual wide-eyed, vacant look of the total jut-jawed jackass. Odd how he couldn't stop watching Faye Lorraine slice carrots. Each stroke of her knife sent a cold tingle flashing crossways through his groin.

Close on to midnight there was a knock on the side of the trailer. Dillon hopped up, telling Faye Lorraine that he'd get it. He still hadn't come up with what to tell Faye Lorraine, or what to tell Kitty to keep her from telling Faye Lorraine herself.

But it was Eddie at the door, seeming small, shifting foot to foot, his hands behind his back. He cleared his throat but didn't say anything.

"So. Eddie. What, ah, what's up?" asked Dillon, keeping it light, with Faye Lorraine watching from the sofa.

"Kitty's calmed down." Eddie rolled his eyes, sighing. "A lot."

"Good. That's good."

"She sees it as kind of funny now."

"That's a relief. Hard to believe, but  -  okay."

"It helped," said Eddie, lowering his voice, "when I told her all that stuff was yours. How it was you tried convincing me those pictures were Kitty."

"Me!"

"Don't worry, I made it like you were looking out for her, you being my best friend," Eddie rushed on. "I said how it made you go kinda nuts. For my sake. It made her feel sorry for you. I think."

Dillon stuck his head out further, pulling the door close to his shoulders, trying to pinch off a little more privacy from his wife. "What in hell you think she's gonna say to Faye Lorraine?" he said, his voice a cutting torch whisper.

"I had to tell her something or she'd've left me!" said Eddie, still clamping down on his voice.

"What do you think Faye'll do if she thinks that shit's mine?" Dillon leaned in at Eddie, clamping down just as hard.

"Okay, okay, let me give Kitty some time to cool down and I'll tell her. She might appreciate how jealous I got."

"Tell her now! Say it was your true-love switch made you do it."

"I can't. She's watching to see me give these back to you." Eddie held out the manila envelope.

"No," said Dillon, keeping his face stone-still.

"Kitty won't believe me saying they're yours."

"You could've burned them."

"No. She needs to see you take them or she'll think I'm lying."

"You are lying!"

Dillon saw Kitty standing out on the narrow sidewalk that ran along the fronts of the trailers, belting the whole park. She had the look of a woman avoiding contamination.

"I'll tell her, if you don't."

"Who do you think she's going to believe? Her husband? Or his best friend she says stares at her ass all the time now? She was going to tell Faye Lorraine about that, too, if it hadn't been for me. She will if you don't take this stuff." Eddie watched for Dillon's reaction. Dillon twisted up his face to let loose at him, but Eddie jumped in, "You owe me big time, Dillon, for keeping her from telling Faye Lorraine."

"You made Kitty think that I'm a first-class creep, and it's me owing you?"

"It saved my marriage." Eddie held out the envelope. "I'd do the same for you." He waggled the envelope again.

Dillon had that airy chill of impending doom pooling at the base of his spine.

Screwed. Royally screwed. Super royally screwed. By his best friend. He could act dumb and never admit anything to Faye Lorraine, but it was only a matter of time before Kitty said something to her. The shick and clack of Faye Lorraine's favorite chef's knife on her bamboo cutting board filled Dillon's head, hearing her slice those large zucchinis she loved carving up.

Dillon held out his hand, his arm frigid, his muscles iced up. "Okay." Dillon took the envelope from Eddie, barely giving Kitty a glance.

"Thanks, buddy," said Eddie. He turned and smiled at Kitty who stood with her hip cocked and arms crossed.

"You know I'll have to tell Faye Lorraine everything." But Dillon didn't think Faye Lorraine would believe any of it. He could already see himself living out of his truck.

"No!" said Eddie, turning to keep his back to Kitty.

"The way she's watching us? She'll be dying to know what happened. I have to tell her something."

"No, you don't. Don't tell her anything, don't show her anything. She'll tell Kitty, and Kitty will know I found out."

"Found out what?"

"Her doing porn in college."

"I told you  -"

"You don't think I know my own wife?"

"It's making me wonder."

"You're a real perv, you know that?"

"How's it me?"

"You saying, 'It's not her, Eddie. Let me see another one, Eddie.' You suck, you know that?"

"Then why give them to me?"

"Because Kitty's making me," said Eddie, his teeth clenched hard.

"Eddie?" Kitty called out to him.

Dillon saw the barest glimmer of light, a rescue beam shining through the gloom.

"You don't have to take my word for it," said Dillon.

"You can bet I don't."

"We could, you know, settle this once and for all. I'll take them all to work, show them around. Not say who they are and just like  -  you know  - ask  - like  - if any of these girls look familiar."

Eddie stood frozen.

"You'd believe me then, right?"

"Those are still mine."

With a glance and a happy wave to Kitty, Dillon said to Eddie, "No they're not. You told Kitty they were mine." Dillon smiled at Kitty, whose scowl had deepened.

Eddie stood rooted.

"Eddie?" Kitty called out again.

Dillon could see that Eddie needed one little shove more. He squeezed the envelope, springing it open to look down into the pictures. "Hey, wouldn't it be a kick if the guys all thought they looked like Kitty?" Dillon looked up and smiled, flipping the imaginary switch on and off behind his ear, click-clicking at Eddie.

Eddie launched himself at Dillon, slamming the door wide open against the aluminum siding, shattering the glass panes in the louvers, taking Dillon down to the floor, grabbing for the envelope.

Which, Dillon realized as Eddie's fist caught him in the eye, made it their third fist fight ever, and all of them over Kitty Favor.

14 comments:

  1. I really wasn't sure what I was getting into when I started reading this story. Truly funny and well presented. I don't know who I feel more sorry for, Dillon or Eddie. Thank you very much for sharing this well written story.

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  2. An intense story. It kept me guessing and I kept wondering how it would end.

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  3. Reminds me of the punk rock song by the group 'The Subhumans' out of Vancouver called 'Slave to my Dick."

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  4. Very intense. Twist after twist. Enjoyed it enormously.

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary! Self-deceit tends to twist people up. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  5. Nice tension throughout, never guessed where it was ultimately headed. Loved the subtleties of the final confrontation between Dillon and Eddie. Clever ending. Fun and unpredictable.

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  6. Mr. Burnwell has written a hilarious story. It feels as though you are watching a comedy team—the Eddie/Dillon show. I love the voice in this tale; Burnwell captures the mores and cultural idioms of his characters. "Quicker than a hot-buttered cat," "he could see how he liked whacking off with nothing in the tank," "pussy-whipped," "there's no spine in the pine anymore," and "before Eddie went full prude on everyone" wonderfully evoke setting, character, and mood. Burnwell has a fine ear for dialogue that he skillfully weaves into a narrative with a pitch-perfect balance of setting details, description, and exposition. The wives, though minor personalities, are a large presence in the story; you can sense their individuality (demonstrating Burnwell's meticulous talent for crafting character). Ultimately, it's the tension between Eddie and Dillon, the conflict-filled repartee, that makes this story so funny. I love that the characters have been friends for life, and author Burnwell establishes their intimacy throughout—here are a couple of best friends, who will be forever close—tussling, arguing, and sharing secrets until the end. The story is a great portrayal of the ups-and-downs in any close relationship. An authentic representation of the absurdities of real life and the ridiculous situations in which we sometimes find ourselves. Burnwell is an expert storyteller, and he sure as hell knows how to make us laugh. Thank you.

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    1. James, thank you for sharing this. I appreciate you taking the time. Best regards!

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  7. This is a dandy piece, I love the diction;it's exactly the way we talk. If Eddie wants to share those pictures with me, I'll give him an honest opinion.

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  8. Much appreciated. Those pictures are just research, honest!

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