“'Ur a rotten scoundrel!” she screams. “Ur' dirty an' stinkin' man! Git up!”
He’s lifting his eyelids now. They're heavy with the crust.
"Mildred! Jesus!" he says weakly. "Did ya hav'ta wake me now? I was dreaming a good one. I was on a cruise ship an' the waves were lappin' nice an' blue an' the fish—"
"Get up, old man! There're no waves here! Not at noon. Not in this bunker, 'sept maybe in the sludge basin. Feed 'ur face man. Git sum' belly on. You're skin an' bone, Dear!"
He rolls up. Squints at the sun. "What's that thing'a doing there? Don't recall givin' it a permit to glare me inna window slits this God-fowlin' morn!"
"You mean that thing there? You dim sod! Get off. Step up for breakfas' man. Is a cookin'. The sun will do ya' good. Put a vitamin in ya'. Look at it, Man. Look at that ball of light! Orange and sick, jus' like yuu' the sun is, but it don' give in. No, it keeps on. It keeps on like we shou' too. Like all goo' man shou.'
He rolls over now. Rubs his jaw. Shakes his head. Regrets the shaking part.
She’s cooking. It smells of bacon. He sees her thin cheeks now but his soreness comes on.
"Did you hit me last night, Dear? My face is a wee bit sore."
"A wee bit, ya' blab? A wee bit? God Dear, I only tapped 'ur chin when ya' dun try me. You blast'd in the wine again. Tis' almos' gone now," she lies. "Ya' blasted in an' try me an' ur, too weak fer tha,' Dear.
He wobbles up. "Sorry, Hon. It's the world's end. It mucks with me. Sometimes I think about the past, ya' know? When we lived in Florida. When we took those cruises every year, 'ntil the outbreaks. 'Ntil the riots and the civil wars. An the nukes."
"I know, Dear. I know. Bes' not to think on it too dern har.' Let ur min' rest soft-like now. Ease in the day, slow-likes.
He pauses. Tries to think but gives up. "You think my skin will fall off today, Mildred?" He rubs his flesh. It stinks now. "I don' knows now. I don' knows much about the next things."
"What say you, Dear? Ur' powdered eggs is almos' cook'd." She's busy flipping protein on the frying pan. He hears the smacks of it.
"My skin. Today. Will it peel like all them others?" He motions outside. To the burnt up places. To the dusted blackness and the sadness of the nothing-left.
"Dear, weez too far from them crazies to worry 'bout the skin peels. If'n it did peel I'd jus’ cook it an' feed it back to ya'. Keep the cycle goin' ya know?"
"Your a wonderful thing, you know that?" he asks. “Funny.” He almost laughs.
She smiles wide. Broad. White teeth. A picture of health. "Don' ya' jus' love the islands, Dear?"
"Sure, but hey?"
"Where's me backside?"
Silence for a long moment. A lustful leer, from her.
“Have ya’ seen the jerk seasoning, Dear?”
© 2020 Jack Shorebird