Eggs by Chancho Cox

A half dozen were dumped in her lap, and it was snowing too. Nate backed up the U-haul, and Nate got stuck. So he gassed it forward, then gassed it in reverse, spinning up ice and mud all over her yard. The boys and the dogs shambled past, yelping

“Gramma Love!”


“woof woof”


“I got to pee!”

with Numa already cussing.

“Goddamnit Nate! You’re tearin up momma’s driveway!”

Nate eased his head through the open window, the mud pooting up and the snow falling down.

“Help me then woman! I can’t see!”

The old bird needed a cigarette; smoke heat in her mouth and throat. She burned one, sucked it slow; squeezed a smile into her lips.

“Hey Numa. I didn’t think you was comin'.”


“I said I didn’t think you was comin'.”

“He didn’t stop the whole way momma. I told you it was gone take more than five hours.”

The tires whirred, a pinwheel of orange and white. Nate cut the engine, profaning the weather and kicking the door.

“Well, you got here ok.”

He hopped on the ground and stood with his fists pushed into his sides. His cheeks were candied apples. His eyes glowed swampish green.

“Well Lovenia, here we are.”

Numa started after him, wagging her fist. Nate squatted down and cupped a snow ball. He waited till she was close enough to mash it in her face, like it was a cream pie. Numa shook out snow and foul language as her man roared.

“A heuh heuh heuh!”

and then

“Here we are!”

Grandma Lovenia’s lip muscles spasmed and twitched.

“Well come on and warm up then.”

“We better get it all in first. Boys!”

The boys scrambled out, having relieved themselves half in and half on her peach-rimmed toilet. Dogs barked circles around her arthritic feet.


We spent that first night drinking Coors Lights, Jack Daniels and Diet Cola, Nate telling tales on Numa. Back to when they were first married, living in the yellow-brown tin can in the trailer park. Outside of Wilkesboro.

“and the boys were pushin and tuggin on me, hollerin

‘Daddy! Nate! Get up, get up! Look out the window! Look at what momma’s done! She’s burnin!’

and I can’t hardly walk. We’d put one on the night before. So I stumble over to the back door and peek out. I can see her, but only from behind. It looks like she’s takin a pee. But like a man! A grown woman peein' like a man! In our back yard! But it ain’t pee Lovenia! It’s lighter fluid!

A heuh heuh heuh!

I yell

‘Numa, what chu doin there honey?’

But she just tosses the empty can on the ground. It was dent in both sides from where she’d pressed out the last drip of gasoline. She don’t even look at me. Just sticks her hand in her bathrobe and pulls out a matchbook. Then she’s flickin matches.

So I’m runnin, and hollerin

‘No Numa, not my shoes!’

but its too late now, they’re gone. Burnin yellow, black and nectarine. Two hundred dollar alligator-leather penny loafers. Just bought. Brand new!”

I looked at my daughter sitting beside her man, holding his hand and grinning. The cat and the canary. All I could think to say was


And all she could think to say back was

“What momma?”

So Nate, he roared.

“A, heuh hueh hueh!”

And started up again.

“The neighbors, they’re standin' out on their porches with their eyes poppin' and their mouths flapped open waitin' for flies. One dried out shit bucket works up nerve to say how

‘I gone call the law!’

so I shout right back

‘Well call the damn law!’

Then I’m chasin Numa round the yard ready to beat the real piss out of her if I can grab hold of her. What was I supposed to do? But she’s too fast, and I was too wore out to catch her. Cussin and spittin over her shoulder. So I turnt on the hose. But it was too late by then. They was burnt double dead.

A heuh heuh heuh!”

Nate laughing and Numa laughing. I laughed too, but mainly to give me space to think. They’d promised it was only going to be a month. Maybe two. Until Nate got a job to replace the one he’d “lost.” Then they’d fly away.

But as the liquor mixed in with my thin granny blood, I wondered. What was it I’d let in the house?


They knew Grandma Love didn’t like them drinking every day. She’d stand by the door, ears turned up and mouth turned down, as ice clinked against glass and bottles rolled over the oak wood floor. Each pop of a Coors can deepened her frown.

They mostly stuck to each other the first four days, alone in their room. But Grandma Love was listening. And me and Teagie were watching to see what she was going to do.

On the 5th day they moved it outside. The stench got so bad they had to. Grandma Love drove up after work and saw the mattress sitting on her front porch with the brown pee stain bigger then the man who’d leaked it. Shaped like a busted egg.


Before I could even step out of my car I heard Numa.

“A baby! Can’t hold his water! A 36-year-old bed-wettin man!”

I’d worked in fat people all day at the Stoute Shoppe. I was tired and hungry, and my heater didn’t work. So I was cold too.

It hadn’t been barely a week and they were already making fools of themselves and their children and me for the benefit of my whole neighborhood. Because if the neighbors didn’t see old Brer B’ar’s piss, they couldn’t help but smell it.

I squeezed my purse and ran towards the house, calling out

“Numa! I won’t have this now! This is my home!”

But Numa jerked past me to her own car, slamming doors behind her and expectorating hell fire. Her hair was a bleached gold explosion, electric shocked. A purpled bruise glowed on her right cheek.

She jerked the Pontiac in reverse, kicking the gas petal with her thick foot. The car bolted, and she wasn’t looking, so she ran into my water-well. Its cement lid cracked clean in two. She stopped just long enough to roll down the window, stick her head out, and cuss it too before wheeling dust and grit and half-melted snow up and around my yard and onto the road. And me trembling on my doorstep. I clutched my purse and waved my fist, muttering

“I won’t stand for it. This ain’t their house. I pay the damn rent.”

My old buzzard’s breath wheezed through my nostrils as it caught up to me that the bitch really had just busted the well.

“Well goddamn.”

I pulled out a cigarette and pushed through the screen door. The kitchen was shade and shadow, still putting off heat from Numa’s red wake. I was warm now anyways.

“Nate, where you at. Nate?”

But Nate didn’t answer. He was on the couch, flat on his belly wearing nothing but his tightie not-so-whities.

I shuffle-snuck over and bent low. The whiskey fumes drifted out of his back-pores. I had to squint my eyes as I breathed him in, my mind jumping from the broken water-well, to the pee-pee bed out front, to this fermenting bear of a man dead on the couch. Snoring. A thunderous sound.

Now I know this about me. I will feed a stray beast when nobody is looking, but kick it when somebody is. If a wandering hobo asks for a nickel, I’ll give him my last dime. That inside and tender part, it didn’t want me waking him up. I seen it was just a wore-out man-boy sprawled and slobbering on my quilts.

But Nate wasn’t mine. I hadn’t asked for him or his cubs, camping in the middle of my wind down years. So I poked him on the shoulder and whisper-hissed

“Nate, wake up. Nate.”

Which anybody could see did no good. Air rumbled in through his nose and gullet, filling his paunch. Air rumbled out. He sweated booze and leaked drool.

“Nate! I said wake up now!”

Nothing but hot air.

I lit my cigarette and clucked louder yet.

“This is my house, and I’m not gone have it! I only went along for them boys. But I told you both there weren’t gone be none of your carryin on! I have to work. Damn it. Nate!”

Then I popped him on the side of his face. Again, nothing. So I pulled at his whiskers, enough to make his eyes flutter.

“go on”

He swatted wildly. Still bent, I sucked on my cigarette, chuckling soft and low despite myself. I gave his mustache another tug. When he fluttered again, I yanked it sharp.

Nate squealed, then plopped off the couch and onto the floor, taking me down with him. The broad end of my granny rump broke the fall.

“Lovenia what’s the matter with you?”

“I told you to get up.”

He eased up against the couch, glaring at me sideways and frowning. But it wasn’t long before he was grinning; then he let loose a tinkling giggle. Soon we were both having a roar.

“A heuh heuh heuh.”

I waited until we’d both caught our breath to start in.

“Nate, we’re gone have a talk.”

His olive eyes rolled and focused, focused and rolled. Kicking with his feet, he pushed his body back until it slid up and onto the couch.

“About what Lovenia?”

A sweat-matted paw covered his face. He opened and closed his gummy lips.

“I told you both. When you said you was movin in. Do not bring none of your bullshit with you. That I would not put up with just exactly what you are pullin right now. Fightin and drinkin and layin out all day. I meant it Nate. I mean it.”

“You need to talk to that daughter of yours.”

“I’m talkin to you Nate.”

He turned his head to where he thought I would be. His eyes rolled. Focused. Nate whispered

“Lovenia, you go right on yappin then.”

and turned over onto his stomach, pulling the home-quilt over his bare back.

“Mr. Cutler, don’t you go to sleep on me!”

But he was already snoring, or pretending to be. I hadn’t even got to ask about the pee.

I scrunched my face and shook my fist, waving it at his back meat. As I eased off the floor, I crowed

“Not in my house. No sir. And no mam.”

To nobody but myself.


My room was across from the boys’. I could hear them in there playing their video games.

“Teagie? Leake? Let me in.”

Leake opened the door.

“What is that mattress doin on my porch?”

I walked over to the bed and wheezed down. Teagie shot at the ducks in the boob tube.

“He did it in Wilkesboro all the time. We’d get off the bus and it would be leanin against the trailer walls. Airin out.”

Leake kept his voice low, even though Numa was out the house and Nate was snoring, uproariously so, in the living room.

“Does he need to see a doctor?”

“Momma says its because he drinks too much. That he’s too sorry to walk to the toilet once he’s put one on.”

“Well why do they have to stick it out on my front porch? If I’d known they was like this I’d a called Social Service to get you boys out.”

“Tell her about the eggs.”

Teagie’s eyes glued on the scattering TV birds.


“Oh that’s a good one.”

I lit another Salem Light.


We’d spent the weekend at a sleepover. When our friend’s momma pulls up to drop us off, she says

“Why’s your door open like that?”

We didn’t know so we run up the steps and look inside. It was quiet. Hot from where the air condition was off. The first thing we saw was the furniture, tore up and spread throughout the house. Broken glass, mashed lamp shades. A cushion with cotton bustin out its guts. I knew what it meant, so I turned in the doorway and yelled to our friend’s momma

“Its alright. They just spring cleanin!”

She drove off. When I turned back around it hit me. Rotten eggs. From out the kitchen.

They was all caked by then. The white, not scrambled, and not fried, because they hadn’t been cooked. But heat baked. Part dry and part wet. Flaking. Their eyes was the color of grapefruit juice, pushed out and down wherever the shell had popped, spread like buckshot, or dripped blood.

I don’t know how they got it started, but I could see how it ended. On the walls, in the carpet, slid down our cabinets. The dining room table was turned over. A chair leg was broke. There was flour on everything. More broken glass. But the eggs! The curtains was tore off, so all that sunlight had rushed in. Slow heat. They weren’t cooked. It was just the edges was dry.

And guess who was gone have to clean it?

So I waded through bent cigars, dirty dishes, panties, toilet paper, socks, coffee grains and Coors Light bottles filled with an inch of sour beer and floating cigarette nubs.

Their bedroom door was wide open, and there they were, laid out on the bed. Naked. But wrapped up in a nest of covers and sheets and flour and booze. A love burrito. Momma’s leg poked out, frosted, but smooth.

We vacuumed and scrubbed. None of it woke them up. Not even with me bangin on the broken chair with a hammer. It was Nate that finally came out, after we’d put it back together again. His weenie flapped left and right as he stumbled through the hallway.

Me and Teagie usually would’ve just kept our mouths shut. We didn’t like to get beat. But this one time I had to know. So I asked

“Why eggs?”

He looked at me out of one lime eyeball, scratching beneath his pink nuts. “We was hungry son.”

Then he went to laughin. Like he always does.

“A heuh heuh heuh.”


“I will be damned.”

Grandma Lovenia eased off the mattress and glared down at her grandson.

“And now they think they gone tear up my nest? I wish you boys had called before now.”

“If momma found out”

“She would’ve kicked all asses.”

Teagie killed another duck as Lovenia eased her vein-sore haunch back onto the downy bed. She scooted towards the center, pulling the pillows and the blanket and the bedspread close. Her legs were drawn up and she wrapped her arms around her knees, holding herself tight and still. Leake and Teagie stared at her as she muttered to no one but herself.

“They said a month. Then they’d be out. Once he gets a job.”

Leake placed a small hand on her arm.

“They know I’m tired. Too tired to raise boys. And I still have to work.”

He rubbed against her molting granny skin, gently, for fear of breaking through to the tender meat beneath.
“It’s my house. My home.”

Lovenia turned her head blindly up towards his face; bent it back down; rested her chin on her chest.
“There’s nothin left but wait and see.”

Lovenia fumbled with shaking fingers in her breast pocket. She found the pack, one left. Her other hand, also shaking, held the lighter up to her grandson. He eased the cigarette between cracked lips and wet-rot teeth then flicked the switch. Heat. She sucked smoke in her lungs and let it sit.

Lovenia squeezed into herself. Compacting. An oval.

“I crack them, or they crack me.”

A duck quacked.

And Nate awoke.

“A heuh heuh heuh.”

Love’s water broke- a dribble of yellow. But the mattress was soaked.

A silver bullet spilt feathered yolk.