The Argument Box

JD Fox

The Argument Box

My parents were having another one
of their arguments, the kind of argument,
that only adults understand.
So I excused myself from the table,

went to my room and got the box,
my last one, and took it
into the kitchen
and stood on a chair.

I grabbed hold of the “bastard”
word as it came out of my mother’s mouth
and dropped it into the box
where it landed with a thud.

I reached down her throat and pulled out
a phlegm-covered rant about my dad
never being home. I pulled out unpaid bills,
a yard covered in weeds, and broken things

around the house. I went as deep as I could, latching
on to some incoherent, half-formed thoughts
coated in bile—involving knives, castration, threats—
better left decaying outside than fermenting inside.

From my dad, I snatched “bitch” right away,
and went deeper to grab hold of “frigid cunt”
and deeper still to thoughts that involved sex
soaked in rage and rape, and what my mother’s

place should be, which always started out
someplace like the kitchen or bedroom
but always ended up between his legs
and her choking on his man-of-the-house thrusts.

I folded the box shut and took it out to the curb
just in time for the garbage men to pick it up.
They struggled carrying the box
and dropped it, causing it to bust open.

“What the f*ck’s wrong with you,” the lanky one said.
“You clumsy son of a bitch.
What’s wrong with me is you,” the other one said,
“you lazy asshole.”
Together they managed to pick up the leaking box
and throw it into the back of the truck,
but they argued the whole time they did so
and continued to argue as they drove off.

I went back into the kitchen, heard my mom
ask dad if he would like some more coffee.
He said yes, please, thank you,
then offered her whatever section of the paper she’d like.

They drank coffee, shared the paper,
and I pretended the day had just begun.


JD Fox is associate editor for Mud Season Review. He writes fiction and poetry, his most recent story forthcoming in Hotel VT Quarterly. His slice of web is Meaning of life is often on his mind, and is especially present as his old cat approaches death. Such thoughts lead to tweeted (@tracerconstant) haikus and couplets like this homage to Robert Frost:

Another Span of Life
Our cat no longer

Plays with the toys we bought him

I can remember when we got him

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