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51 Flat world

Kindred heard the newspaper slap onto his front porch and rolled out of bed, fumbling into his plush orange bunny slippers and terry robe.

His wife Corinna slept, facemashed on high threadcount sheets purchased last year on their lovetrip to New York City for Valentine's Day.

The sex had been so-so, as it had been since Corinna discovered the note from Karin in the inside pocket of his black Brooks Brothers suit.

But they had attended a taping of The Tonight Show, which had been in town for a week. Johnny Carson had made slyeye contact with Corinna.

She was sexually aroused for six weeks after, imagining that she would become--what, Johnny's sixth wife?-- and live with him in Nebraska.

Kindred stepped over Julius, his Golden Retriever, who was splayed at the foot of the stairs, and opened the front door, hotsunblasting in.

Life in New Mexico was dry. The air was dry. His skin was dry. His wife was dry. His martinis were dry. His sense of humor was dry. As dust.

He bent over, still feeling the effects of last night's, um, adventure, when he was rolling home from the office and stopped dead at a red.

Three punks had jumped up on his hood and pissed on his windshield, some sort of fraternity hazing ritual, not serious, surely. Let it go.

But Kindred had reacted as if someone else inhabited his body, someone more versed in the art of violent confrontation than he. Vicious.

The beating he put on those students, a self-orchestrated whirlwind of precise strikes and counterblows, and darn if he didn't kill 'em all.

Must have tweaked something in his lower back with that last throatkick, twinging now as he stood up after reaching for the newspaper. Huh?

He was vaguely aware of Corinna clumping down the stairs behind him, flash of pink panties stirring his imagination, half open bathrobe.

But most of his attention was on the paper. His photo from the award banquet, smiling as he accepted the adulation. Man of the year. Huh.

He never thought he would follow in his father's footsteps and become a world-renowned scientist specializing in nuclear, um, events. Boom.

But there you have it. Daddy would be proud, if only he had not rushed out of the shelter in 1945 at Trinity and been vapo-rubbed, poof.

He turned to show the picture to Corinna and Karin struck him in the Adam's apple with the edge of her bony fist, and he gasped walrussy.

Blinking, Karin gone and Corinna handed him a coffee as he kicked the door shut behind him and shuffled toward the backsplit yellow kitchen.

Suburbia could wait, dry-baked 112 degree roastoven, swimming pools silently steaming, the cheerleader next door nearly naked sunbronzing.

Dr. Kindred made toast with strawberry jam and looked out at his flat world, idly considering the possibility of an alternative universe.


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