They stood in the kitchen. The pipes were clogged, a pool of fetid water backing into the sink.
She frowned at him. "You gonna fix it?" But her expression said: Are you man enough to fix it?
"Of course I'm gonna fix it," he said.
"Don't worry about my methods."
"Whatever you say." She shrugged and walked away.
He eyed the sink in befuddlement. How was he supposed to fix it? When she returned ten minutes later, he hadn't moved an inch.
"What's the verdict?" she demanded.
"Calm down. I'm still in the assessment phase."
He grabbed a wrench, ducked under the sink, and fiddled around, trying to look competent. When she left, he stopped fiddling and studied the pipes. He attempted to trace the hydrology of the system but it was a tangled mess, decades old.
He unscrewed a fitting from the main pipe. Water sprayed him in the face. He cursed and screwed it back on. He tried another pipe and again got sprayed. He tugged on a few hoses to no effect. He returned to staring.
After an hour, he'd made no progress. He was irritated and suffering intense back pain from contorting in the tiny space. Are you man enough? He was man enough, all right, but his strain of man-ness was a frosty mug of beer, a warm remote control, and a tight Rose Bowl game. He despised fixing things.
In a fit of frustrated rage, he slammed the wrench against a pipe. "You." Bang. "God." Bang. "Damned." Bang. "Piece." Bang. "Of." Bang. "Shit." Bang, bang, bang.
Then he heard a loud gurgle, a rush of water. He jumped up in surprise. The water had drained from the sink. His banging must have loosened the blockage.
She entered the kitchen, wide-eyed. "You fixed it?"
He mustered a scoff. "Of course I fixed it. I told you I would."
"Wow. I admit, I doubted you. But you're a master handyman."
"Yes," he beamed, knowing he'd just earned himself a solid month of unrepentant slacking. "Yes I am."
She smiled. "This changes everything. You're actually useful now. We can remodel the kitchen, then the bathroom. We'll start a new project each weekend. The possibilities are endless..."
BIO: Tom Mahony is a biological consultant in California with an M.S. degree from Humboldt State University. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared or is forthcoming in Flashquake, The Rose & Thorn, Pindeldyboz, In Posse Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Verbsap, 34th Parallel, The Scruffy Dog Review, Void Magazine, SFWP, Kurungabaa, Cantaraville, The Flask Review, Foliate Oak, Decomp, The Oddville Press, Bewildering Stories, Long Story Short, Flash Forward, Six Sentences, Laughter Loaf, and Surfer Magazine. He is looking for a publisher for several novels. Visit him at tommahony.net.