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Five Fat Men in a Hot Tub
by Jeff Landon

art by Marty D. Ison
art by Marty D. Ison
Check us out! Five fat men in a hot tub. Snow falls fast, fat flakes already turning into sleet. We lift our flushed faces to the sky and sink lower into the bubbles and water. Why are we here? We are here to ski and drink and help our friend, Billy. Turns out that he was right all along: his wife really was fucking her foot doctor.

We are kindred with shame. Lifetime friends. Chip stands up with his shorts pulled down. It’s not a good look. Blake and Robbie do a lurching tango in the tub. They move in the snow silence. Big, graceful, drunk guys: my friends.

Last weekend my wife told me that she was going back to Alabama, after Christmas. Our daughter is in college now, and my wife wants to go back home, by herself. She'll be gone when I get home.

These are the friends I have left. Mark's sitting on the edge of the tub, eating a meatball sandwich on a paper plate. He used to have cancer, but now he doesn't. We all used to be someone else.

It's getting late. We don't know how late it is. In the cabin behind us, through a gap in the birch trees, we can see a TV blinking blue in the guest suite. Sometimes my mother calls me to talk about Victor Newman on the Young and the Restless. He's handsome but torn, Mom says. We're all torn, Mom, I tell her. You don't have to be Victor Newman to be torn.

Chip leans back and finishes his quart of beer. This morning, Chip and I drove into town for eggs and sausage. Rounding a corner, blind, I almost hit a deer. A buck. He skimmed the passenger side and bounced once on the road before gathering himself and darting into the woods. Afterwards, Chip and I stood outside, surveying the damage. Snowflakes haloed Chip's huge bald head. Our breath puffed up the air between us. I thought about my wife and our baby, years ago. It was the first time our baby had ever seen the ocean. I held our baby upright, under her arms, and dunked her fat little legs into the water. She looked stunned and delighted at the same time. Her hair stood straight up like she was trying to give the wind something to dry its hands on.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.

Jeff Landon lives in Virginia, teaches creative writing to Elementary school students, and he's published fiction in Crazyhorse, New Virginia Review, Other Voices, Another Chicago Magazine, Smokelong Quarterly, Night Train, and Quick Fiction.

Read the interview.
Issue Ten (September 15, 2005): Capsicum by Anne Marie Jackson «» Donat Bobet's Halloween by Bruce Holland Rogers «» The Arrival by Nathan Leslie «» The Law by Edgar Omar Avilés, translated by Toshiya A. Kamei «» Five Fat Men in a Hot Tub by Jeff Landon «» Hoover by Cally Taylor «» Are You Okay? by Joshua Hampel «» The Kindness of Strangers by Otis Brown «» Mrs. Krishnan by Kuzhali Manickavel «» Crossing the Orinoco by William Reese Hamilton «» The Elements of Summer by Laura Stallard Petza «» Closer to Paul by Patti Jazanoski «» Hawesville, Kentucky by Nance Knauer «» He Stayed for Breakfast by Astrid Schott «» Gardening by Antonios Maltezos «» Outer Space by Tom Saunders «» Blind Love by Robert Bradley «» Arks by Alan Girling «» Chitlins by Bob Arter «» Strange Fruit by Suzanne Lafetra «» Interviews: Anne Marie Jackson «» Bruce Holland Rogers «» Nathan Leslie «» Toshiya A. Kamei «» Jeff Landon «» Cally Taylor «» Joshua Hampel «» Otis Brown «» Kuzhali Manickavel «» William Reese Hamilton «» Laura Stallard Petza «» Patti Jazanoski «» Nance Knauer «» Astrid Schott «» Antonios Maltezos «» Tom Saunders «» Robert Bradley «» Alan Girling «» Bob Arter «» Suzanne Lafetra «» Joseph Young «» Cover Art "The Creation of Time and the Plagiarism of Bosch" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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