by Robert Scotellaro
My cousin, Peter, wins the lottery. Millions. We fought as kids over who would get the little grey (or was it silver?) race car we’d glide across the board when we played Monopoly. I don’t know if either of us truly wanted it, or if we merely wanted what the other wanted. Now he’s got a vintage Cadillac Eldorado (restored). Its shark fins gleaming out of his garage. He keeps the garage door open. The car doesn’t fit all the way inside. He’s getting a new house he says and that Cynthia is leaving him (his wife of twenty-two years). The parties he’s been having: the strange new “friends” he invites, she says, are freaking out the cats. And that she’s had it. Up to here! The money be damned. But also reminds him she’s got a good chunk of it coming. And the cats are going with her and he can have the “birdbrains”—the lot of them. ‘What?’ she tells him, ‘you think those bimbos are in it for your good looks?’ Peter finds her suitcase, he tells me, open on the bed, her vibrator in the corner beside a pile of her lacey bras—a declaration of independence and implication. The suitcase is like a giant maw. He translates: ‘Adios, asshole!’
Peter ran the concession stand at the skating rink in town where hot chocolate was the big seller. Now he gets calls from all sorts. Even inventors, he tells me, looking for backing. One wanted him to invest in a Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head spin-off, giving them genitalia. Said they could be used by parents and teachers for Sex Ed in a nonthreatening way. ‘How much they trying to soak you for?’ I say over the phone. He says, ‘Hey, wait a minute. I gotta take this.’ When he gets back on he says, ‘You won’t believe the pair…’ ‘Stop!’ I tell him. He still thinks I want that little race car zooming around the board with me in it. And maybe I do (a little) but mostly I don’t. We’ve got a fireplace, two cars that fit in the garage, a cat that is not freaked out by strange new hands, and the “Scottie dog,” the “top hat” and the “thimble” pieces scoot around that Monopoly board as fast as any race car, and with none of the crashes.
Hot Chocolate Again
At his new place Peter tells me he’s depressed. ‘I don’t know who to trust anymore,’ he says. ‘You know a fake orgasm when you hear one, and that’s all I hear these days. I miss Cynthia and the cats, and goddamnit, a good cup of hot chocolate.’ He looks at me with a deep, earnest gaze: ‘You need any money?’ he asks. When I tell him I’m all set, he hugs me, and we do our special handshake: elaborate and dorky, just like we did as kids. Back then he’d tell these meandering, longwinded jokes, he’d hear from his parents, and when you were totally exhausted and waiting for a redeeming punchline, he’d never get it right. But I always hoped he’d get it right. ‘Got any new jokes?’ I ask. ‘Yeah, my life,’ he says, clicking on a TV nearly as large as the wall across from us.
Robert Scotellaro’s work has been included in W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International, NANO Fiction, Gargoyle, Matter Press, Best Small Fictions 2016, 2017, Best Microfiction 2020, and others. He’s the author of seven chapbooks and five flash story collections. He has, with James Thomas, co-edited New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, published by W.W. Norton. Robert is one of the founding donors to The Ransom Flash Fiction Collection at the University of Texas. Visit him at www.robertscotellaro.com