The Ugly Sweater Party

After our ugly sweater party, we find Jenni’s ex-boyfriend, Lance, dead on her futon. I’m wasted, but I watch a shitload of Law and Order so I walk Jenni through Lance’s cause of death.
“At the beginning of the party Lance passed out on your bed,” I explain. “Nobody realized he was there and everyone kept throwing their winter coats on top of him until he suffocated.”
Jenni takes a gulp from her whiskey sour as tears fall down her cheeks. Her ugly sweater has a ton of candy canes and silver tinsel. My ugly sweater has two gold poodles appliquéd on by someone who loved the shit out of dogs and gold. When you look at our sweaters you instantly wonder what the fuck someone was thinking when they created them, which was exactly why we had this party in the first place.
“I didn’t love Lance anymore,” Jenni moans, “but I didn’t want him to die like that. I didn’t want him to die with all that Goosedown and Gortex sucking the air out of his lungs and not giving any back.”


The cops show up. Two stern men, one bald, one blond. I offer them a slice of the leftover penis-shaped tiramisu, but they shake their heads no.
“Lance’s death is no one’s fault,” I explain, “unless it is everyone’s fault.”
“Everyone who wore a winter coat to our party is Lance’s killer,” Jenni says.
“It’s everyone’s fault except for our friend Nina,” I tell the cops, “because Nina is menopausal and she’s having hot flashes and doesn’t need a winter coat right now.”
“So everyone except Nina is Lance’s killer,” Jenni tells them.
“Case closed,” I say.
The cops dig through Lance’s pockets and find a blowjob coupon of mine. The blowjob coupon says “The bearer of this coupon is entitled to one ten minute or less blowjob!” My phone number is listed at the bottom. I made 10 of these at Kinko’s a month ago, but they were easy to forge so I’ve honored about 30 of them since.
“I should’ve used a watermark or hologram to discourage the counterfeiters,” I tell the cops. “I’ll definitely do that for next batch.”
I mix myself another drink while the coroner loads Lance onto a gurney and zips up the body bag. The coroner is in his mid-thirties with a good head of dark hair. He smiles at me.
“You like my sweater?” I ask.
“It’s awful,” he says, “and wonderful.”
Before he leaves I push one of my blowjob coupons into his coat pocket.
“You probably understand exactly how tenuous our grip on earth is, don’t you?” I ask. “How quickly the light in our eyes can get snuffed out?”
“Better than most,” he says.


The coroner drives off. I help Jenni back inside, tuck her into my bed, stroke her hair until she falls asleep. About a half hour later, I get a text from the coroner.
“Done for the night,” his message says, “wanna grab a drink?”
I know I should stay with Jenni, but I’m way too wired, no way I’m sleeping for at least another couple of hours.
“Sure!” I text back.
I run a brush through my hair, reapply my lipstick, head out the door. The coroner is sitting up at the bar when I walk in. I give him a little wave as I walk toward him. He waves back. My ugly sweater rides up as I move across the room toward him. I yank the sweater down so the two poodles’ little pink tongues are positioned where they should be, one right over my nipple and the other one right over my heart.

Front page image by Jason Garbers.

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John Jodzio

About the Author

John Jodzio is a winner of the Loft-McKnight Fellowship and the author of the short story collections, If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home (Replacement Press) and Get In If You Want To Live (Paper Darts Press). He lives in Minneapolis. Find out more at
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