This has turned into a series of fiction. If you tend to skip days, and you’ve skipped the past couple, you might want to backtrack before reading this post. This story begins with the fictional post, Expecting the Unexpected. Click here to begin at the beginning. And, thank you. Of all the hundreds of thousands of existing options for entertaining blog reading, I am honored you stopped here and chose me.

My feet sink into the humid dewey grass. Clods of dirt make walking tough, and this blasted rifle isn’t helping. Dad always makes me carry this one, and it’s too big for me. Plus, there’s no way everybody in the neighborhood doesn’t know we’re here, with him practically crashing through the front of the building in glaring announcement. He’s stooped and creeping along ahead of me, weaving this way and that in what he thinks are evasive tactics but are really just him being drunk.

I stop and hold my breath. We’re in that crazy part of the morn. The night critters boom like the bass section of an orchestra, reverberating in the chest, until they just stop. In the minutes before the birds start singing, there’s nothing. No sound. It’s like the world up and died.

I don’t want to go in there during the deadest part of night. I might never be able to leave.

With a shudder, I pick up my pace and get right behind my Dad. He’s trying to see through the little square window in the front door, the one that’s too high for me. He takes a step backward and falls on top of me, dragging three loaded guns and our bodies onto the hard concrete. I feel the barrel of a gun in my side, pinned there under his passed-out heft. His breath oozes from his face like cooped-up air in a distillery. I’m afraid to move. Every time I try to inch my way out from under him, the cool steel digs into my ribs. Panic isn’t going to help me rescue my sister, but I feel my heart thrashing in my throat with the realization that the slightest mistake could pull a happy trigger. I close my eyes and breathe deep, try to control my scattering thoughts and make them pleas.

A sucking sound punctures my reverie. Light streams from the open front door and silhouettes a man. HIM.

You need to take that drunk and go on home now he snarls. Your sister is fine. I take pristine care of her.

He’s wearing a get-up that, from this angle on the ground, looks like a woman’s house dress. Backlighting illumines ruffles around the collar. His stubby feet are smooth and at my eye level, just beyond my reach. He stands there, twirling the sash of his girly-looking garb and leering down at me. Bitter bile fills the back of my throat.

She begged me not to fail her.

He backs into the house and starts to slam the door when an explosion rocks through me. I’m hit! I’m hit!  I hear myself screaming down the tunnel of reverberation, only to realize HE’S running down the street with his stupid dress fluttering behind him. Is HE shot?

Summoning all my strength, I heave my father’s bulk off of me. It’s his pistol that fired and took a piece out of the corner of the front door. He’s still snoring in his own liquored-up world.

I run through the apartment, shouting her name. Bathroom! I hear her scream over the cascading sound of running water. She meets me at the top of the stairs and grabs my hand. You have to help me pack up the truck with as much stuff as we can take before he gets back. She starts loading up her arms with trinkets, her eyes spinning and feral.

It’s moments like these that transform little boys into men. My voice sounds different when I say one word: Now. I turn on my heel and walk out, dragging my father by his collar to the truck. I am slamming him into the bed when she comes up beside me and takes my blistered hand.

I’ll drive she says.

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