Sunday, March 16, 2014

Semper Fi (sketch)


Four of us, all under the age of 11, looked up from the monopoly game at Uncle Walt.

Henry said, "Ooo swear!"

Walt picked up the tiny metal wheelbarrow he had just stepped on, and dropped it onto the middle of the game board. Uncle Walt, who wasn't wearing a shirt or shoes, whose jeans were unbuttoned, whose hair was long and uncombed, had been back from Vietnam for a month. He was staying with us for the summer or until he, as my mom put it, got his head together.

"Goddam fucktool," he murmured on his way past us into the kitchen. It didn't seem like he would be getting his head together any time soon.

"Lemme see," said Miles, picking up the piece, "That's the one I wanted".

"You're the shoe now, you can't switch, " Henry said and he held out his hand. He placed it next to his neatly stacked pile of money and pushed his glasses up with one finger. I picked up my cup and stood. "You can't leave," Henry said.

"I'm just gonna get some juice".

In the kitchen Walt had his back to me. He was pouring coffee into a cup and some spilled. He put the pot down and held his hands out straight and flat; they trembled.

"Uncle Walt?"

He put his hands on the counter and hung his head. He didn't say anything.

"Uncle Walt, can you get me some juice?"

"Hold on"

"The pitcher's too heavy"

He stood there, his head still hanging. I put the cup next to him on the counter. He eyed it and stood up straight, took a sip of his coffee and turned to face me.

He stared at me. I stared back. He studied. I studied.

"What are you doing today?" I asked him, finally. He shook his head at me. He didn't want to talk. I picked up the cup and wiggled it, "Can I get some juice?"

He sniffed; considered me.


He started to smile. It was like watching a curtain being pulled up and the sun shining through. He put his hand on the side of my face and rubbed his thumb across my cheek.

"Why are you doing that?" I said, giggling a little.

He laughed and turned to the refrigerator, grabbed the pitcher and poured some juice into my cup, "Because you're soft".

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