By Cecele Kraus
My daddy and I are going out in the car to spend some time together. My mother says we should. It is early evening and starting to get dark. We head out to downtown Tuscaloosa, near Bryce State Mental Hospital. Daddy is a chaplain there. This is our time. Maybe we will talk. Football. Maybe Boy Scouts. Well, maybe about that shotgun he gave me. Grandpapa’s shotgun. I can’t wait to go hunting. Daddy doesn’t hunt but I can go hunting on Papa’s land. Maybe Daddy will come to my next football contest. Sometimes he does. But I don’t know. Sometimes he is off on trips with his choir. But now we are going to get something to eat. Together. Without my sisters. Without my mother.
I glance at him sideways. He is a little quiet. I don’t know what to say. I am wondering when we are going to Papa’s so that I can use that shotgun.
Papa Allen taught me how to shoot. Daddy doesn’t have time to go out in the woods. But Papa does and sometimes my cousins. And sometimes I just go by myself.
Sometimes I shoot a coon and leave it in Micaville with my cousins. Daddy did play football in high school and Papa traveled seventeen miles to town to watch the games and cheer. Daddy has told me about this. Papa would run up and down the sidelines cheering them on. I wish Daddy would run up and down the
sidelines at my games.
It gets quiet in the car. Daddy puts the radio on. Nat King Cole is singing. Daddy tells me what a good voice Nat King Cole has. He loves his voice. Daddy sings too but I don’t sing.
We are here now. We stop at the diner. Daddy says, “Philip, go in and get yourself a hamburger and a Pepsi.” I ask, “Aren’t you coming too?” Daddy is quiet. “No, just get what you want.” Confused, I go in and sit at the counter. I eat my hamburger. Out the diner window, I see a tall, dark-haired woman get into our car. It is getting darker. She only stays a few minutes. She leans over to kiss my daddy and then leaves. I feel sick. My stomach is hurting. I get back in the car. Daddy changes the radio station. A gospel quartet is on. I don’t say anything. Daddy is quiet.
Writer Cecele Kraus works as a psychotherapist in Chatham, New York. She is working on a collection of poems and short fiction.