“Papa”–Flash Fiction, Difficult People.




          The wound. The fear of the wound. Quiver. Recover. Forever afraid. Don’t talk about it.

          Who’s there?

          Running water. Pipes complain. Lonely essential job. Bottom rung. Good attitude.

          Urbane indifference. Seen it all. No attitude necessary.

          The trolley ran here once. Over there a man was crushed by a team of horses. Fire engine. No charges.

          The dead man…ribs crushed…massive head trauma—back due on taxes. Life a mess of debts and addictions. I’m very sorry. The city sent a letter of sorrow, the bank took her house and her furniture, she moved to her sister’s and they fought from Day 2.

          The two children, a boy and a girl, were small. They wanted Papa and cried when mother and auntie fought.

          Then they moved again, to an apartment a friend of her brother knew about. The landlord was sympathetic. He sat in her kitchen and drank gin over ice and seltzer. He was a bachelor, a runaround. He let the rent go until they had an argument about him walking around in his undershirt and shorts.

          Hot as the Sahara in here, he shouted. And the kids started to whimper and beg for their Papa. So the landlord got dressed and took them to the cemetery in his new car and he showed them the grave and the kids stopped crying and got big eyes of wonder and on the way home they stood in the backseat and pressed their tiny fingers into the landlord’s shoulders and that’s the day they remember getting a new Papa.




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