Gluteus Maximus ~ A Short Story

Gluteus Maximus image 5

Gluteus Maximus
~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp ~

School let out at three-fifteen. It took me fifteen minutes to walk home, about five blocks. I was always told to come straight home. Don’t dawdle. Don’t fool around. I was seven years old.

My mother had started working as a receptionist in a doctor’s office, so I knew she wouldn’t be home until later in the afternoon. I didn’t mind being on my own. I always liked it. I liked to get some cookies or potato chips or something and then not have anybody around while I watched cartoons on TV.

On a day in the middle of October, my father was sleeping when I came home, though, so I couldn’t turn on the TV. Even with the sound turned all the way down, he said, it kept him awake. Anything I did might keep him awake. If I opened a drawer, he would hear it and get mad. I could be quiet if I had to, but it was always so boring, like being in jail.

He was working night shift; he would get up about five-thirty and get ready for work. Can you imagine working all night and sleeping all day? It suited him somehow.

I went in my room and laid on my bed for a while. I tried reading a comic book but I was too restless after being in school all day. Then I went into the kitchen and played with the phone. I called time and temperature and then I called the bowling alley and hung up when they answered.

While I was in the kitchen, I had a snack. I ate a cold hot dog right out of the package. I liked the taste. Then I ate a couple of marshmallows and a couple of chocolate cookies. My mother always told me not to eat anything when I got home from school because it would spoil my appetite and I wouldn’t want any dinner. I wouldn’t want any dinner anyway unless we had noodles or macaroni and cheese.

I was bored and starting to get sleepy. I could have gone to sleep until my mother got home from work, but I didn’t want to be too much like my father. My mother would think I was sick if she came home and I was asleep.

I was looking around for something to help me pass the time, when I heard voices out in front of the house. I went to the front door and opened it a couple of inches and looked out. There were a couple of police cars and an ambulance at the house across the street. People were standing out on the sidewalk to watch.

I had to know what was going on. I ventured out into the front yard. I couldn’t see much from there, so I went out to the street. I had to look around all the tall people.

At the house across the street, a couple of uniformed police officers stood sentinel on either side of the door. The door was open. I was just standing there, trying to see what was happening, when Miss Katz from up the street approached me.

“You’d better get back inside!” she said. “There might be more shooting!”

“I just wanted to see,” I said.

“Where’s your mother?”

“She hasn’t come home from work yet.”

“What about your pa?”

“He’s taking a nap.”

“Better go back in.”

“What happened?”

“Miss Burford shot her old man.”

“Her father?”

“No! She shot her husband, Harry Burford.”

“Did she kill him?”

“I don’t know. That’s what we’re all waiting to find out.”

Two police officers brought Miss Burford out of the house with her hands cuffed behind her back. She was bawling but not saying anything. They put her in the back of a police car and drove away, not too fast but with the red lights spinning. Then a little while later they brought Harry Burford out of the house on a stretcher. He clearly wasn’t dead but didn’t look too happy. His face was pale and his eyes were closed. They loaded him into the back of the ambulance, slammed the doors shut, and drove off with the siren going.

“I think he looks like he might die,” Miss Katz said.

“Why’d she shoot him?” I asked.

“She probably found him fooling around with another woman. She shot him in both cheeks!”

“She shot him in the face?”

“No, she shot him in the ass cheeks. The butt!”


“He probably won’t be sitting comfortably for the rest of the year.”

“What will they do to her?”

“I think they should lock her up for a good long time, don’t you? If old Harry dies, they’ll probably put her in the penitentiary for life. She always was crazy if you ask me. She just has a funny look about her. She’s the kind of woman that when you see her coming you feel like turning around and running.”

“She always seemed okay to me,” I said.

“That’s because you’re a child. She wouldn’t dare do anything crazy to a child.”

“Well, I’d better get back inside.”

“What time does your mama come home?”

“Not for a while yet.”

“Are you hungry? I can fix you a baloney sandwich if you want to come home with me. You can sit with me, if you want, until your mama comes home.”


She didn’t exactly hold me by the hand, but she kept her hand on my shoulder as we walked the short distance to her house. We went into her kitchen and she set me down at the kitchen table.

“Your house is pretty,” I said.

Her kitchen didn’t look anything like ours. Everything was shiny and clean-looking. Everything was in its place. I didn’t know much about Miss Katz. I think she used to have a husband, but I don’t know what happened to him. He must have died. I know she had a son who died in a war.

Do you like baloney?” she asked me.


“Do you like mayonnaise?”

“I love mayonnaise!”

She fixed the sandwich and set it on a plate in front of me. It was two slices of baloney, with one slice of cheese in between, on fresh bread, with lots of mayonnaise. It was delicious.

“I used to know your mother a long time ago when she was a little girl,” Miss Katz said. “I worked in the cafeteria at school when she was just a little thing. She had the prettiest blond curls.”

“She works in a doctor’s office now,” I said.

“Life plays some dirty tricks sometimes, doesn’t it?”

“It sure does.”

“What about that father of yours?”

“He’s working nightshift tonight. When I got home from school, he was sleeping so I wasn’t supposed to make any noise. He didn’t even know when I came outside. He gets up to go to work about the time my mother comes home. Sometimes I wish he would stay gone all the time.”

She made some sympathetic noises in her throat and then put a bowl of fruit in front of me.

“Do you have any Pepsi?” I asked.

When I got home, my father had already left for work. My mother was in the kitchen.

“Where have you been?” she asked.

“I was talking to Miss Katz. Did you hear what happened?”


“Miss Burford shot Mr. Burford.”

“Shot him where?”

“In both ass cheeks! That’s got to hurt!”

“Who told you that?”

“Miss Katz. I was standing there when the police brought Miss Burford out of the house in handcuffs! Then they brought Mr. Burford out on a stretcher and took him away in the ambulance! If he dies, Miss Burford will go to the penitentiary.”

“I want you to stay away from those people! I always suspected something funny was going on with them.”

“I don’t ever go near them,” I said.

She fixed chow mein with rice for dinner. I wasn’t hungry by then, but I picked at it with my fork and tried to eat a little of it. I didn’t want to hurt my mother’s feelings.

Copyright © 2023 by Allen Kopp

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