Beckman day #2 part #2 The Cabin

by | Dean Cleaning One

Beckman Part #2    The Cabin


“There’s no place to stay for over thirty miles. I have a cabin down the next driveway. You can stay with me and we can catch up and you can leave in the morning.”

Every hair on my arms told me no, but curiosity and fatigue from walking set in.”

“You can hang on to the pistol if you’d feel more comfortable,” he said.

I took the pistol from the glove box and was surprised how light it was. Then I moved it in my hand and realized I’d seen it before.

“Last time you held that cap pistol you hid behind your mother and took shots at me. I called you a brat and took it away. You were four.”

They pulled up to a log cabin McMansion and got out.

“What do I call you?”

“Ben will do,” And then he lifted a flowerpot from the stairs, took the key and unlocked the door and turned on the lights. “Take any bedroom on the right,” he said. “All of them have baths and can be locked from the inside. I’ll meet you back here after I shower and you look like you could use one too.”

Ben was at the bar drinking a glass of red and said pour what you’d like. I took the bottle of Jameson 14 and poured myself three, maybe four fingers and tossed in one giant ice cube.

“You didn’t say what you thought of the bar-mitzvah letter I sent.”

“I never read it.”

“What about the gold ring with your initials?’

“Wore it till I was in basic training in San Antonio then I hocked it to buy a bottle of tequila.”

The doorbell rang and Ben walked in with the bartender who placed a tray of sandwiches along with bags of chips on the bar. He put out plates and napkins and wordlessly left the house and drove off.

We sat in club chairs and set our drinks and plates on end tables.

“You go first,” Ben said. “What can I tell you about me and your mother/”

“Nothing,” I said. “She’s long gone.”

“I know,” he said. “Well what do you want to know?”

“Where’d you grow up?”

“New Haven.”

“What kind of games did you play as a kid?”

“Hoop & Stick, baseball, Johnny on the pony, Ringalevio, Hide n Seek, marbles, the regular stuff.”

“What position did you play in baseball?”

“Like you, I was a catcher.”

“What kind of jobs did you work at?”

“I worked on the ice wagon for $.10 a day lugging blocks of ice up flights of stairs to peoples ice boxes, Also, like you, I hawked newspapers, stole money, swiped bread from grocery stores, bought a $.05 punchboard and the person who punched out the star won a buck and there were two two-bit punches in the board. I did what you did. I snuck into movie theaters, did odd jobs for the gangsters in the neighborhood, and pocketed penny candy whenever I got the chance. See, we’re not so different.”

“I remember your mother, but never met your father; what did he do?”

“Hard time.”

“For what?”

“For getting caught.”

I had two sandwiches, a couple bags of Tom’s chips and another glass of the Irish.

Ben ate half a sandwich and lit up a stogie. That stogie memory came back to me.

I went to bed, slept like the proverbial rock, dressed, and unlocked my door. I was hoping for hot coffee and wasn’t disappointed. I looked around and there on the table was my 6-shooter and all the pictures. Ben was nowhere to be found and his truck was gone.

I hitched back to BAR and said hi to the bartender who just stared at me and pointed to the FREE BEER TOMORROW sign. He pulled his suspenders over his shoulders with just a wife-beater underneath,

“Where’s Ben?” I asked.

“Who’s Ben?”

“Ben’s the guy who was nursing his beer when I came in yesterday.”

“You were my only customer yesterday.”

“What about the house you delivered the sandwiches to last night?”

“Wasn’t me. Does this look like a catering joint?”

“I asked for a drink.”

“What do ya want?” he asked.

“Does it make a difference?”

“Everything makes a difference.”
“Okay. Give me a Jameson’s 14 on the rocks with a ginger back.”

“He brought me the same order as yesterday and said, “That’ll be $250.”

“Yesterday it was $1.75.”

“Jameson’s is more expensive than gin. Even you should know that.”

I tossed, sipped and walked out holding my thumb up hoping someone was heading north.”




  1. Meg Tuite

    Hi Paul,
    Your dialogue is always to the point and doesn’t disappoint here. And that end is your slam dunk. You have a gift for that dialogue and creating a wild ride around it. Loved this! So great!

  2. Gay Degani

    With your other piece this feels like a whole story, though either one would stand on it’s home. I like the feel of this story, the old cabin where one can actually have 14 year old Jamison and bedrooms that are en suites? Beckman magical realism at work. I love this story of meeting a man who claims to be his long lost father and yet, is he, really??? Really strong work.

    • Paul Beckman

      Gay-Thank you for your take. The beginning of this story was like an earworm that I couldn’t shake to do the assignment.

  3. Tommy Dean

    Yes! Love that you returned to this story! I really want to find out what happens! Love that the gun is given over so easily here in the opening! Love the shift here, how it’s a toy, how this man has kept it for so many years! Says a lot about his character!

    and the unread letter and the ring that was sold to buy alcohol! This is working so well!

    What a wild shift in the end! Was it real or was it not? Does it matter? Not sure it does, because it was satisfying either way!

  4. Roberta Beary

    So good, Paul.

    I admire the way the abandonment fantasy plays out and the jigsaw’s missing pieces are supplied via dialogue and objects like the cap pistol.

    Ben doesn’t seem aware of the damage his walking away caused and seems hurt that his one letter to his son never was read, or if it was, isn’t acknowledged as such. This is the power of dialogue.

    You narrator’s voice speaks for all the little boys whose fathers walked a path away from family.

    The earlier piece combined with this one makes for poignant storytelling.

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