Coming Home

By Bub 

He came right in the front door. He scanned the place over and took a seat next to Charlotte on the couch. The room swelled with silent confusion. Carroll O'Connor said something satirically racist on television. The studio audience laughed.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Darrell, in the recliner, asked of the man - emphasizing 'the fuck' as if it were the subject of the question.

The man sat watching 'All In The Family' while Darrell and Charlotte stared at him in disbelief. He finally realized they expected an answer from him.

"Just enjoying some television. Is this a bad time?"

"Who the fuck are you? Of course it's a... Get the fuck OUT A HERE!"

"I'd rather not, actually. But it's OK if you would like to leave."

"If I'D like to leave?!?!" It was too much for Darrell.

"Honey, it's alright. Be a good host..." Charlotte said tentatively. "Maybe our guest would like something to drink." She then turned to the man and raised her eyebrows.

"That'd be terrific."

"I just brewed Darrell some iced tea this afternoon, would that be alright?"

"I would love some iced tea. That would be fantastic! Unsweetened, plea..."

"Be a good host?!" Darrell clipped off the man's request. "Iced tea?!?! FANTASTIC!?!? GET THE FUCK. OUT. NOW.!!"

"Dar-rull!" Charlotte scolded. "He's sorry, he doesn't mean anything by it. I apologize too, but I forgot to mention that it's sweet tea, is that alright?"

"No worries. I'm trying to cut out sugar - water from the tap would be fine."

"Oh we have bottled, let me go get you one." Charlotte got up to go to the kitchen.

"CharLOTTE!" Darrell threatened.

"Now Darrell, that's enough!" Charlotte brushed him off with a gesture of her hand and went to retrieve the water.

The man contentedly watched the television as Darrell watched the man, vexed, and bewildered. Finally Darrell gathered himself, leaned over, extended his index finger in the man's direction and whispered, "Listen buddy, I don't know who you are or why you're here but you'd better be gone by the time she gets back in here with that water."

The man, exasperated, raised his voice, "Sir, I have suffered enough of your rudeness!"

"What's that Charles?" A woman's voice, not Charlotte's, called from down the hall.

"Nothing dear!" The man answered.

Footsteps, then a woman in an evening dress appeared in the living room. She observed a room occupied by only Charles. She clasped an earring in her ear as she asked, "Who are you talking to, dear?"

The man looked sideways at Darrell. Darrell clenched and bared his teeth at the man.

"No one, dear."

"Alright then, come get dressed our reservation is in forty minutes."

"Alright dear."

Darrell traced his extended thumb horizontally across his throat threateningly toward the man.

"Alright, dear..." the man muttered uneasily to himself. He could not decide what to do next.

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