Matters of Principle

Suzette stopped by just as I was in the bathroom, cutting her husband up into six easy pieces. I washed quickly in the sink and edged toward the door. Through the peephole, she looked like a reflection in a funhouse mirror.

“Allo?” I called in a foreign accent.

“Johnny. I know it’s you,” she tells me evenly. “I’m looking for Francois.”

“Ve haff no Francois. I go now.”

“Open the door. I know he’s seeing someone. I’m gonna kill him when I find him.”

I reverted to my normal voice.

“I’m sure that won’t be necessary. Listen, I’ve got company here…”

“Well, I’m jealous. Kiss her for me. Maybe I’ll stop by later.”

I returned to the bathroom, told Francois he was a dead man, and bagged him up.

My former wife, divorced now for over two years, had shot me out of the blue a vengeful text describing in detail the affair she had with my now-segmented best friend. Yes. Francois. I am sick of saying his name. Certain principles are important in life. Don’t litter. It is a sin against the community. If you see someone fall, help them up. These are basic things. Just as basic is to not go bangitty-bang on your buddy’s wife, especially while he’s doing ninety days in jail over a disagreement at a DUI checkpoint.

Two days later, Suzette is back at my door. We sit on the sofa, drink wine, and badmouth her husband. Then she scoots over next to me and gives a long, slow-moving kiss.

“So. Who was that girl you were with?”

“Nobody, darling. Nobody at all.”


Robert L. Penick’s work has appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and Plainsongs. He lives in Louisville, KY, USA, with his free-range box turtle, Sheldon.

Cesar Valtierra is a graphic designer from El Paso, TX and the creator of the webcomic, Balazo.