Excerpt: 'Especially the Bad Things' by Greg Gerke
They were wrong for each other, but they were in the same car. She was Norwegian and didn’t make a big deal about it. He liked that, but less and less. A bee flew into the car and she laughed.
Why is she laughing in such a danger situation? he thought. I’m driving. The insurance company calls me if we crash. She gets carted around night and day, and what if I told her she’s only in my presence because going to a swimming pool alone is odd? I don’t want guys hitting on me.
Did she laugh thinking of their favorite shared Shakespeare quote? The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. How many more times could that be funny? She didn’t even like Shakespeare—Ibsen forever! And she loathed how he carried that academic hauteur even though he said he didn’t. But it’s summer and I’m trying to make it work because unemployment is a bitch and the musk smell behind his ear still invites me.
The bee was in the back. It was mad because she was laughing at it. You motherfucking woman, I’m a bee and I’m stuck in a car. It’s hot and I’m hungry and you laugh at me? Still the bee kept trying to get out the rear window. Glass was glass, but eventually he would creep over a lip and buzz away.
Excerpted from Especially the Bad Things: Short stories, by Greg Gerke, published by Splice Books in 2019. Excerpted with permission of the author.