Not All Love Smells Like Roses

Tom Barlow

The thing with the handle is sticking out of his back. Blood is all over the thing. I get some on my sneakers. Little circles of it follow me into the thing, the television thing with the telephone. I remember a joke. What’s the number for 9-1-1? Barb is going to be excellent with me when she gets home from the thing. Is that today? Expect me when you see me. That might be from long ago. When am I? Next door, Mr. Richardson is pruning his pink things, looks up when I tap on the thing. He puts his straw hat on the porch, takes off his fingers, brushes off his things. Legs over to our excellent. I open the thing. He looks at the thing, the floor, at me. Oh, his mouth says. Oh Oh. Maury. What have you done? He reaches out with his neck to look into the thing, then picks up the thing and calls. Send an ambulance. We go out onto the porch to wait for the red with the loud screen. Stay in the swing, he says. I’m waiting for Barb a long time while they run into the house. While they carry Nicky out in the rain, soaking his thing soaking wet, slide him into the excellent, take time for a smoke. People all along the street are standing on their things, watching. I ask Mr. Richardson for my thing that I listen to baseball. Chief Wahoo. Oh my son. Once when we were picking things, thorns, watch out for thorns, son. For preserves. Railroad tracks. Little lines of blood like red threads on my legs. Oh, shit, Mother had said. The excellent drives off, Reds game playing on its thing. Joe Nuxhall. Let me see your hands. Mr. Richardson holds them like slaphands. Hands. Old fingers, OK fingers, asshole fingers. That once held Nicky like the most excellent thing in the world. Oh, Janet, I’d said. The smell. Not all love smells like roses, she said. About time Mr. Richardson says when a black and tan pulls up to the thing. Two cops get out. One is a william. Father would have snorkled at that. They come up the things, looking beautiful right at me. Have I lived so many things just to be so fuck fuck fuck? Mr. Stanhope? She has a gap between her things like a whistle. What happened to your son? I say This is just what I remember, you understand? Not like I used to. Time to go home. He’s senile, Mr. Richardson says. She’s not carrying her excellent like on TV. His son and daughter-in-law moved in with him last spring. Nicky and Barb. I’m not sure what you mean by difficult. She’s writing on the thing while he goes into the house. It’s like a furnace in here. Where’s Barb? Somebody needs to change him. Not my job. Mine neither. He’s not getting in my cruiser. It’s not yours, asshole. There’s a hose in the back yard. Black pants, Polish shoes, doesn’t know shit from shineola. I remember that joke. Come on, gramps. I found this upstairs. Janet’s excellent. Let’s go, look out the dog things the Baxter’s. Let me unbuckle your belt. Jesus. Lift your feet. Hold up your shirt, Maury, is that right? This might be a little cold. Shoot me if I ever look like that. Stand still so I don’t waste a shot. What’s this? What’s that? Frogid. Hose water. I haven’t pissed outdoors in excellent. Better here than in the cruiser. I could have been a kindergarten teacher, you know? Put this on. Oh Janet Avon Honeysuckle the two ounce size? You shouldn’t have this is too excellent. Put your hands behind your back. I’ll wait on the porch for Barb and tell her what happened. More people should have neighbors like you. That’s up to the captain. Probably the psych ward. Watch your head. Don’t shit yourself, OK? There’s your intelligent design for you. The neighbor told me his son and his daughter-in-law were keeping him at home so he didn’t blow their inheritance on a nursing home. The guy used to be a mailman. You got to have the feet of a horse to carry mail every day. Hoofs, dumbass. Horses don’t have feet. The things are flying by the car window like excellent, the grade school there goes the farmery. Keep your mouth shut about the hose, right? Do I look that stupid.

Hold him up while I get the door. Looking good, dude. Not every guy can wear a pink robe. How’d his shoes get wet? Who knows? Clorox. Sudsy Janet running the things through the wringing thing, could you please not smoke while the excellent is drying? Everything smells like an ashtray. I found one in Nicky’s pocket. Look here. Now over there. Don’t smile. Give me your hand. My fingers on the thing, then blue things on the excellent. Those better not be bruises on his neck, Maury. You need to use the can? You get ahold of the social worker? Another vegetable for her garden. Wait here and DON’T MOVE. And keep your pecker covered until I can get you some paper pants. Janet’s pretty thing all her pricky things Nicky where’s that one carat G-color in platinum there was no such thing Dad it’s all in your excellent. Mom’s thing was glass. Mom’s rock. Mom’s rock. This isn’t the excellent room. Cold as a bitch’s wig. I’m even old in my dreams. Maury? I’m Mrs. Fuller. I’m a social worker. Let’s get you into some better clothes. Here help me. Take his other arm. Can you raise your arms? Step now. Step. Don’t tie them too tight. That’s better, isn’t it? Your daughter-in-law wants to see you, but this man has to ask you a couple of questions first, is that OK? Can you nod? OK. Do you want an attorney? I think he shook his head. Yeah. Did you stab your son? Just nod. That was nod. I agree. He’ll be incompetent anyway. But the paperwork. Don’t I know it. Send in the woman. You won’t be going home, you know that, right?

There are too many peepholes, I want my excellent, my thing in my own excellent. Settle down. Maybe we should get him a shot. They’ll give him one when they come for him. If you’re too smart to stay in school, you’re too smart to live here anymore. Tough shit. No, tough love, Maury.

Barb in her unicorn. How could you? After all he did for you? You pathetic old shit.

Don’t hit me.

He took you to the doctor, to visit your sister, fed you, even wiped your ass. You owed him. You owed him everything. It must be your side of the family. We never had a kid like him in my family. He’s just mean, Maury. There’s no way around it.

I’m your son, not your nigger. Here, why don’t you make yourself a fresh shit sandwich. How’d you get the knife, Maury? We had a lock on that drawer. Not all love smells like roses, Janet had said. If I had a knife, I’d excellent all of your things plenty.

Tom Barlow is an Ohio writer whose personal finance stories may be found on sites such as His fiction has appeared in several anthologies including Best New Writing 2011 and numerous magazines and journals including Redivider, Temenos, The Apalachee Review, Hobart, The Duck & Herring Pocket Field Guide, Hiss Quarterly, Thieves Jargon, the Steel City Review, and the Intergalactic Medicine Show.