Itch/Scratch Added£1.49
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(A short story of 4616 words)

Itch/Scratch

Literary

by Paul Lahert


As the city swelters in a heatwave, an unfaithful husband makes his way home to a wife whose eyes are no longer closed.


***Please Note: This story is also available in the collection "Indelible and Other Stories".***




Ramón drains his drink, lays his hands palms up on the bar and surveys the damage to his inner arms. Bites pock the skin, about a dozen in total, their pattern reminiscent of bombing run photos he once saw in a war documentary. The main cluster is grouped around his wrists where the skin is thinnest. And the itching… Hijo de puta, the itching! He fishes out a piece of ice from his drink and runs it along the inflamed and broken skin, back and forth until the patch is numb and the ice a memory.
The old guy tending bar takes his glass and catches his eye. Otra? Why the hell not? He knows what he’s going home to. Rushing isn’t going to make it any better. Besides, this place has an air conditioner that actually works. The one in his own apartment broke down a couple of days earlier, just in time for the biggest heatwave Guadalajara had seen in the last fifteen years. Timing is everything.
A fresh scotch and ice appears in front of him and he picks it up, gratefully, letting its cool heat fill his mouth along with a fresh piece of ice that he crunches between his teeth. Bliss. The simple joy of not being on the verge of heat stroke. What a difference it makes. Case in point, he was pretty sure that if his air conditioner had been working, none of this would be happening. Luisa told him to just get the guy over to fix it as soon as it had happened. He should have listened, but he didn’t want to pay the call out fee for what was probably something simple. Besides, he’d have been an easy mark in this heat. He’d heard stories of people being charged five times the usual. No, no, fuck that. He tried himself, but the effort was token. He doesn’t have the mechanical gene and he explained this to his dad when he tried to get him round to fix it. Puro pedo, the old man had said, bullshit, there’s nothing genetic about it, you just learn.
Or you don’t...
 

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