shut up and eat by Steve Calamars

The bathroom smells of toothpaste and green deodorant. Henry Rorschach is shirtless at the sink before work. He is wearing gray slacks and black shoes. His teeth are brushed and his face is clean.

Henry opens the medicine cabinet above the sink. He removes shaving-cream and a straight-razor that belonged to his grandfather. He closes the cabinet and applies the shaving-cream.

The bathroom door is open. He can hear his wife and four sons downstairs. His wife is packing their lunchboxes. His sons are eating cereal from ceramic bowls with metal spoons. The four boys are arguing and his wife repeatedly says, “Shut up and eat.”

Henry opens the straight razor and wets the blade beneath the faucet. He looks in the mirror and pulls the blade up his neck, over his chin and up beneath his bottom lip. He examines the shave and wets the blade beneath the faucet. Henry pulls the blade across his cheeks and down above his top lip. He examines the completed shave and wets the blade again. He dries the blade on a bath towel and closes the razor. Henry sets it on the back of the toilet and rinses his face in the sink.

He dries his skin and runs his hand across his face. He looks in the mirror and confirms a smooth shave. His job requires that he be neat and clean in appearance at all times. Henry is an assistant manager for a successful supermarket. He studies himself and believes that his employers will approve.

A bowl breaks downstairs.

“God dammit!” his wife says.

Henry stops and looks down at the bathroom floor.

“I told you to shut up and eat!” his wife says. “Now there’s shit all over the floor!”

His sons are quiet. Henry can hear his wife cleaning the mess and lecturing the boys. He stands and stares at the soft pink tile of the bathroom floor.

“Now shut up and finish your cereal!” his wife says. “You all have half-an-hour till the bus comes.”

Henry walks over quietly and shuts the bathroom door. He locks the door and picks the straight razor back up.

He opens the razor and wets the blade. He looks in the mirror and slightly tilts his head back. Henry pulls the blade and cuts his throat from ear-to-ear. He sets the razor in the sink and looks briefly at his face in the mirror.

The floor shifts and the room spins. Henry staggers over to the bathtub and lies down inside. He looks up at the ceiling and hopes that one of his sons keeps the razor.

Copyright 2009

Author's Bio: Steve Calamars lives in San Antonio, TX. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from U.T-San Antonio and now works for UPS, loading trucks from 3am to 9am. When he is not working or sleeping, he writes (mainly prose). The stuff he writes can be found in bottle rockets and Zygote in My Coffee. He can be found in