—What does she look like?
—I don’t know who you mean.
—The slut your father’s sleeping with.
—Oh. There’s no such person.

I began to follow her then, in anticipation. I cut school and took my bike. She worked in town and lived in an apartment. She smoked and kept a messy glove box.

—Have you taken her picture?
—You don’t want a picture.
—Your teacher called.

Her boss was a creep, and handsy. He worked her late. I went to the apartment and found a picture of Dad. It didn’t look like him, with his arm around her, smiling. I heard the door.

—Who’s here?
—Burglars.
—You’re Frank’s son. You’ve been following me.
—You don’t know that.
—I do now.

We shared a sandwich. She kept a couple cigarettes going. She got up and came back in a loose robe. The smoke detector started to wail. I picked up Dad’s picture and went to the door.

—That’ll stop.
—No, it won’t. It’ll go on forever.

I’d never had a reason to go to his office. (Does everybody hide keys in the same place?) I left the lights off and followed the scent of smoke. The desk was him. The chair was pure Dad. I found a picture that didn’t look like him, with his arm around Mom, smiling. I heard the door.

—What are you doing here?
—Looking at pictures.
—Your teacher called.
—Don’t even start.
—What do you want, son?
—Mom needs you home.

I took her what I had. Two shots from the same roll is what they looked like.

—I don’t understand.
—It’s you, Mom. They’re both you.
—I’d like to kill them both.
—Good idea. We can start fresh in Canada.
—What could fifth grade ever do for you, son?
—Maybe provide an alibi?

Copyright © November 21, 2007 David Hodges

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