The four other men at the table grew quiet, realizing a line had been crossed. LB was still chuckling, looking at his cards, menthol dangling from his lips. Eventually, he too, noticed the silence.
Bobby had spent many years learning how to take this joke, but even he sometimes tired of it. “Who’s your wife out with tonight,” LB had said, gathering his cards from the table.
Cheryl had never thrown it in Bobby’s face, who she was with, what she did. “I’ll be home late Friday,” she’d say, casually, or something similar. Later Bobby would smell the cologne, see the ruffled blouse. He had decided that he would accept her, that the other men came with having her love, even if he would never receive her devotion.
He bristled as he gathered himself. How many of his friends, here at this table, had she fucked? How many of them had she lay in bed with, laughing at him? He took a deep breath.
“Well,” he said, smiling, “at least I know she ain’t fucking you tonight.” The tension broke, the men laughed, the cards were played, and Bobby’s chest caved in like a coal mine, deep, deep, pitch black and lost forever. It hurt so goddamn much. But how else would she see his love if he didn’t show her the hurt?
Travis Cravey can be followed on Twitter @TravisCravey.