My husband, Jerry, calls me Eats. Also Cow and Piggy. Cunt Flaps, when he’s angry. He says Jen in front of Daddy — I’ll give him that — and for show he tosses in some Sugar Pies and Babies. Affection makes Daddy blush, something Jerry knows. The man has a gift for names and naming. Knows their power. Makes you weak. Daddy made him foreman for it, even. Jerry’s a painter, and on his job sites nicknames abound. Says it keeps the crew in line. I don’t know. I keep Daddy’s books, and the boys never sass me when I call them by their propers. For Jerry, though, it’s different. He’ll find a man’s hateful and fire away: Pipe-Head, Garnished, Stank. If Jerry had to name himself, he’d go with Jerry’s Kid or Cripple. Dredge up that way-back dipshit accident, the one where the table saw took his thumb and pointer. Thing also ate the middle and part of the ring, but those the doctors reattached. Sewn on, they’re thick like dynamite. Can’t bend them. Unusable. Wedding band’s on a necklace now. Jerry turns thirty this fall and has hair as white as primer. He’s gentle when scared or wounded. He’ll tell me, Baby, Baby, Baby when those phantom fingers pain him, but when he asks so nice for kisses, I do naming of my own. Christen him Pecker Hand. Ghost Man. Cannot Be Loved.
Lindsay Hunter reads this piece by Justyn Harkin:Audio Player