A Marriage in the Life of Faith Davenport

     “J. B!” She was pounding on his back. “J. B.!” She was screaming. What was he doing, a man that took everything like he thought he was a saint or something and she was supposed to live with it? No. She wasn’t anymore. The thing that had kept grinding against itself for the whole of her marriage had pulled loose.
       “You fight him!” Faye was hitting J. B., the back of her fists banging his shoulders like she was playing a drum. “You’re a coward, J. B. You’re for sure not a man. You’re a man that’s got no children.”
         And even that. He slowed down maybe, but he was still picking up coins, and Faye thought she would drown in her own throat. She was crying and she was kicking at the coins with her feet and Art Klein had his hand clamped over her arms. “A coward, J. B!” Faye was leaning over him, over the back of his head. “J. B., you’re a man that left his best friend to die.”
       Where it came from she didn’t know. She knew and she didn’t know, but it stopped everything in the world and J. B., as if she had taken cold aim and fired. There was a motion like a snake quiver in his spine when he stood up.
       “I didn’t mean that,” Faye said, her voice slipping away, but J. B. had pushed past her, his eyes like they’d left his face, and he was going outside. He was fighting Hemp and she had done it. She had caused it. She had reached to the deep place where he wasn’t J. B.
       There were headlights on in the parking lot. For a second going out the door, Faye was blinded, but there was Hemp then, stripped to the waist, the lights turning the hair on his chest gold instead of red.
       It was like smoke, the light from the cars. J. B. looked skinny, or maybe he just looked pale. His pants were hitched too low, and there was a rash on his neck above his collar, and when he put his fists up Faye was suddenly terrified. He had an idea how to fight. He had an idea the way she did, but there was Hemp with his big shoulders and his stomach that looked like somebody had stitched it flat.
       “Hemp, don’t hurt him,” she said.


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