It Helped and It Didn’t

by | Aug 9, 2022 | Fiction, Issue Twenty-Eight

I try to move my father but the weight of him stays immobile in the twin bed while my mother
fusses over the pee stain on the carpet moaning about what will Father Flynn say should we call
him for the last rites when a man from downstairs who in the old days would be called crazy but
now is said to have a severe personality disorder a man not too young not too old still living at
home and his parents farming him out for the odd job appears at the door as if by magic but no
my mother found his number pencilled in my father’s catholic schoolboy hand the note stuck
under the paperweight of last century’s princess phone the smell of cigarettes on the man as he
gently shifts my father’s weight how their eyes meet like long lost brothers who have found each
other too late and it helped and it didn’t and the next week the ambulance came and my mother
and I argued about what to do while my father floated between this world and the next and the
man suddenly appeared at the door bringing the stale smell of cigarettes into the vestibule but my mother shooed him away like a housefly who’d come too early for the funeral and a few days
later when I call the man’s number a thin whine says their son went off on them and they had to
put him out for his own good and my mother and I try to lift my father but we can’t and the
scenery shifts out of focus and the pee stains fade into twilight and Father Flynn’s been and gone after that everything goes wrong and the years tunnel by and when I look back there’s a nameless man shifting my father’s weight as my father swivels his head at me saying be sure to slip Johnny O a little something because his life isn’t easy and I find a $10 bill and it helped and it

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