On Tuesday nights, the Abduls had French fry soup with the Jeffersons. They’ve done this for over a year. Their first Tuesday night there in the subdivision’s newly-built monster mansions, the Abduls only had leftover fried chicken and the Jeffersons only had leftover French fries and frozen vegetables. Together, they decided to make soup.
Amir Abdul didn’t know how to feel about the Jeffersons. Each Tuesday, they wore matching t-shirts with some witty saying. Tony Jefferson would point at his own chest when they arrived and say what was written on his shirt. “‘It’s five o’clock somewhere,’ huh?” He’d repeat huh after saying something he considered funny. Amir didn’t think Tony knew what wit was.
Amir didn’t think so much of himself and his wife, either. He hated that his own first name began with the same letter as his last name. He felt like a children’s book character when introducing himself. He always wanted to add, “and I love apples” whenever he told someone his name. “My name is Amir Abdul. And I love apples.” Amir’s wife, Susan, hated apples and all fruit. She kind of liked bananas and would tolerate pears, but only pears baked with bacon bits. She was disappointed to learn that Amir didn’t eat bacon when they started dating, even though she knew he was Muslim. He used to think her ignorance endearing, but now he hated it. He wondered if his wife feigned stupidity to remain, what? cute? He wasn’t sure.
Tony Jefferson’s wife was a big, black woman with doe eyes. “I had the name,” he said, “so I had to find my Weezy.” Amir couldn’t help it: when Tony would point out the saying on his shirt, Amir would let his eyes wander to Weezy’s shirt and look at the words stretched across her chest. “My other shirt is a Gucci” the shirt of that Tuesday read. The top of the G was lost on the underside of her right breast. He was determined to one day—hopefully soon—touch Weezy’s breasts. He imagined her waiting there, in the kitchen, turned slightly away from the French fry soup bubbling away on the burner, turned towards him, and his two hands reaching like dependency toward her breasts.
French fry soup was a ridiculous thing and French fry soup night was a sad occasion. If any one of them, anyone besides Amir, considered the pitifulness of collecting hard and uneaten fries throughout the week only to be thrown in a pot with various vegetables and a broth reminiscent of chicken pot pie, they wouldn’t do it anymore. Maybe instead, they’d go to that nice Ethiopian restaurant nearby or to some place Greek. He could enjoy a nice moussaka.
Amir could smell the potato flavor melding with all of the other veggies. He anticipated the soup being done. He watched Weezy as she got up to check it, watched her meaty hand ball itself into a fist and push against the arm of the chair as she rose, watched her flesh shift beneath the too-tight novelty tee. He stood up and followed her. His own wife, Susan, hated vegetables. She seemed a carnivore wholly, and she also liked her carbs: cake and cookies, rich breads, pie crusts. She remained thin, though, as if the beef, chicken, and fatty sweets she consumed could not satiate nor sustain her figure.
Weezy, on the other hand, seemed to love all food. Amir sometimes would study Weezy eating and admire her careful little bites, her plump lips blowing the soup cool in her spoon. He simply wanted Weezy. And now, he couldn’t contain the wait for her. He followed her into the kitchen, thinking of her ripping pieces of bread apart so that she could seamlessly gulp it up with hardly any notice. He would watch her plop a square of toasty rye into the potato soup. So now he followed her. “I will help you,” he said, meaning to grab her breasts when they were alone.
But he did not touch her. Instead, as he watched her check the soup, he felt sadness for her, too. He felt awful that she had to make this soup base every Tuesday. He knew that years ago, she had a miscarriage. He knew that the daughter she did give birth to, the one who survived the pregnancy, didn’t call home often enough and that her son could only call collect from jail. Touching her breasts would make her less important than what she was, and she wasn’t important at all.
“I never like the tee shirts,” he said.
Something in her was nervous. She moved as if among strangers. But she said, “They make Tony happy.” She looked at Amir. “I don’t like them, either.”
Amir felt conspiratorial yet comfortable. He grinned at Weezy, whose name was actually Allison. Were they now best friends? Allison, Amir, Abdul, apples. How do you like those apples, Allison? Amir thought.
About the Author: DeMisty D. Bellinger's writing has appeared in Necessary Fiction; The Rumpus; Forklift, Ohio; and many other places. She teaches creative writing in Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and twin daughters. Her poetry chapbook, Rubbing Elbows, is available at Finishing Line Press. You can find out more about DeMisty at demistybellinger.com.
Story Song: "Tundra/Desert" by Modest Mouse