Clandestine Moment on the Couch

by C.W. Bigelow

As an apology, Glen’s old man bought him a used Cherokee SUV. 

He picked me up at my house to test it out. I could see some rust, but overall, the gray paint was intact.


“I like it.” His tone didn’t reveal any excitement. He was preoccupied which wasn’t that unusual. It could have been his parents’ issues. It could have been issues with his girlfriend Cheryl. After a silent ride through town, past the quaint stores, through two traffic signals, we rolled up onto Oak Street Bridge behind a lime green Cadillac waiting for a red light. A freight train beneath us rumbled west when Glen made contact – just gently kissing the back bumper of the Caddy, barely sending us toward the dashboard.

“You know you hit that dude?”

“I am in shock over that ugly color.” Glen seemed seriously offended by the color, shaking his head in quick spurts, sending his brown curls cascading over his blue eyes.

The driver immediately jumped out screaming. “How stupid are you? You shouldn’t have your license, you dumb fuck!” He was middle-aged, dressed in a dark suit. Face puffed and turning red under a balding head, he continued, “You will get a ticket for this, shithead.” Glen said nothing, his face expressionless as he slowly climbed out of the SUV and approached the screamer. Glen was not tall, but his build was taut, biceps hard and eye catching, and I could see his wide fists clenching at his side.

“Sir, you should’ve had your vehicle painted.”

The man was so caught up in the moment I doubt he even heard Glen’s suggestion. While the man’s arms flew crazily like some poor bird that can’t lift off the ground, Glen floored him with three quick lefts to the chin. The victim’s head snapped back and slumped to the ground, out cold. Glen remained quiet as he jumped back in the car, slammed it into reverse and squealed away from the scene. His jaw stuck out as though it was leading the escape.

We were in the clear. “Never knew you hated that color.” 

“Maybe he’ll finally get it repainted. But I feel better now.” 


“Can’t hit my old man.”

His phone buzzed with a text.

He handed me the phone. “Check that for me.”

“Come on home as soon as you can.” I read, then added, “It’s your dad.”

He nodded as he took a quick left. His chin relaxed and he nodded slightly.

Later Glen texted “They are kaput! As expected. Finally.”

Descending his driveway after parking in the street, pausing under the basketball hoop drooping over the garage doors, I recalled celebrating all our dunks. I chuckled to myself because it was only seven feet high, and we took way too much credit.

I slipped through the side door into Glen’s bedroom, his escape route from the blaring battles his parents had as if they were the stars of the Saturday night fights and had been hired by the neighborhood to keep the dogs howling. During their issues he spent many nights at my house until it was late enough to sneak over to Cheryl’s where he shimmied up the downspout to climb through her open bedroom window – before appearing back at my house in the morning smelling like Cheryl. This had become the norm because her parents never bothered to check her bedroom and his parents were relieved he was absent because they didn’t like to be heard as they screamed their way to divorce. Both were admirable people who were always nice to me. They just didn’t belong with each other anymore.

His bed sheets were twisted in angry tangles. Clothes were scattered over the floor. It was a familiar scene. His towel drooped over the footboard onto the floor. It was still wet as I lifted it and threw it into the stuffed hamper.

“Glen?” I called as I wandered into the kitchen. No dishes on the counters, none in the sink. As messy as his room was; it was that spotless. Sara, his sister, was throwing away a paper towel. Her jeans stretched tightly as she bent over to shut the garbage can lid.

Standing up and turning to me, a display of sweat speckled her brow. “Not here. He said he was heading to your house.”

I hadn’t seen her in a while. Our classes didn’t cross paths like they had in junior high when I sat at the homeroom desk right behind her. My crush on her was painfully intense, but it was never even mentioned because of my friendship with Glen, so I suffered in silence until the years crept ahead and we connected with others. Sara’s circle of friends was not ours.

Thicker than those crush years when she was agile and stringy, flat chested with an athletically muscular ass; but still just as absorbing were her round brown eyes and wide cheeks. Since Glen had been held back a year, because of behavioral problems, we all wandered in the same grade, and he got to drive before us. 

“You all right?” I hadn’t seen her for months.

Sara nodded with her mouth in a tight line. “It’s overdue.” I followed her to the living room where she sat on the brown tweed sofa. “He’s moving out so the noise level will definitely fall.” She chuckled. “They were the last to realize they no longer belong together.”

The room danced with ghostly echoes of every party in the fall when we drank Bud Light and nothing but Bud Light because they were the beer cans with which we chose to construct a throne for our senior men’s homecoming float. Sara seemed to stay out of the house during those months hanging elsewhere to avoid us.

“How’s your mom?” I sat down next to her. It was a stupid question to fill the empty space. My skin had memory and began tingling like it had in seventh grade.

Her shrug was a comment that didn’t need to be given and I wondered how I would react to the same event happening to my parents.

“We will all finally be able to heal now that the wound isn’t opened each night.”

I leaned back and turned to her, struggling to say something significant to ease her pain. Our eyes met and I was transported back to class when I exited class hugging my backpack to my waist to camouflage my erection after drinking in her energy. I wondered if she knew, or if Glen did. 

As I turned my glance to the front door, she suddenly flipped onto her back, slipping her head into my lap, face peering up at me. Circular brown eyes held pools of the past, filled with a combination of need and sadness as if she thought I might be the answer to her own confusion about her family’s situation, or maybe an attempt to ignore it for a while.

Her lips attacked awkwardly until our arms intertwined. They were soft; sucking hungrily as I consciously battled my guilt on multiple levels. She was Glen’s sister. Her vulnerability was screaming. But her tongue was in my mouth, and I was squeezing her left breast. This war between guilt and fulfillment of my seventh-grade fantasy raged with no interruption from her and I began losing the battle as I surrendered. 

How far could this progress? Had she shared my feelings all along? Had I wasted all these years? But I kept going back to the sister thing – what would Glen feel and since he was one of my best friends… And I began regretting not coming forward to admit my feelings, kicking myself for not doing so.

As I adjusted my position to free a growing state of discomfort in my lap, I opened my eyes and gazed down at a green blob of snot in her right nostril. The vision smacked me like one of Glen’s left jabs, quickly knocking sense into me, and without a second thought, I scooted out from under her, my quick reaction landing on my feet, staring down at her. It was a harbinger. Her expression was wrenched with confusion, reflecting the pain of rejection to which I sentenced her through no fault of her own. I was suddenly staring back in relief from the front door.

I escaped without becoming the friend who takes advantage of a susceptible sister though I was wrapped in regret. There was no explanation that would make her feel better or explain my guilt, so I exited silently, certain it was the right decision though it was a decision I questioned all the way home. 

“Where were you?” Glen asked as I entered my house.

He was on the couch in the living room, legs stretched across the coffee table, drinking a Bud Light. The setting sun blared through the picture window and engulfed him in a golden aura. 

“Anymore?” I asked, pointing to the beer.

“In the fridge.”

I plopped in the chair across from him after opening the beer. “I was at your house looking for you. Saw Sara.”

“I talked to her.” He gazed past me into the sunlight.


“Said you left in a hurry.”  

My expression caused him to laugh out loud. Did she tell him of our kiss? Had he always been aware of my feelings for his sister?

“It will work out, believe me.” 

Continuing to look quizzically at him as he crushed the beer can with one squeeze of his powerful left hand, I found myself shaking my head. What will work out?

He gazed around my living room. “Sometimes you have to suck it up. Understand that you can’t force love, at least that’s what my sister says.”

I went for another beer. “When you heading to Cheryl’s?”

He checked his watch. “Shit, I’m late. Her parents are out of town.”

I shook his hand before he walked out and he simply said, “Thanks.”

I wondered what he was thanking me for. Was it because I was empathetic and supportive throughout their ordeal or was it because I had not taken advantage of Sara?

He stopped as he climbed into his Cherokee. “Oh yeah. Sara said you should go back to our house and continue your conversation.”


C.W. Bigelow lives around Charlotte, North Carolina. His recent fiction and poetry have appeared in Blood & Bourbon, Good Works Review, Backchannels, The Saturday Evening Post, Flash Fiction Magazine, Remington Review, Drunk Monkeys, Hare’s Paw, The Write Launch, Hole in the Head Review, Blue Mountain Review and Midway Journal.