Michelle finished cleaning her father’s apartment. She lit a cigarette and sat down on an old green milk crate. She exhaled with a sigh and sat smoking quietly in the now empty apartment. She thought about how pointless having things really is. You work hard, you acquire things, most of it you don’t need; then one day your gone. Poof. Like you never were here. The killing thing is your relatives fight and or squabble over your material things, trash the rest, mop the floor, lights out. “The whole damn world needs a do over dad.” Michelle stood up slowly and looked around one last time. “Well dad that’s as clean as is it’s going to get. Love you.”
Her voice sounded hollow to her. Her older brother Stewart had donated her dad’s smoke laden couch, and chair. He threw away most of dad’s junky stuff. Michelle, Stewart and Whisper had divided dad’s salvageable items. With all of dad’s stockpile of food, and household items they could have opened a small corner grocery store. Sonny Ray curiously took little. He had told his siblings he didn’t want to haul anything back to Vegas but Michelle knew better. Sonny Ray had always prided himself on not being indebted to many, particularly to his mom and dad. Michelle could not believe how much crap her dad had stuffed in this two bedroom tuna can. Michelle hesitated to leave.
She remembered she had a cold drink in the refrigerator. After opening her drink she sat and smoked another cigarette. She knew really why her dad hoarded food; all of Wendell’s children knew. Wendell was born in 1928. Growing up during the Great Depression, Wendells’ family was dirt poor. When their father was drinking he would often talk about his older brother Jimmy. The story went that Jimmy had burned his finger with a blank cartridge, and it later developed into tetanus. Michelle had no idea what a blank cartridge was but she figured it had to do with a weapon of some sort. Her father’s family had been so poor that they could not even afford a tetanus shot. As a result her dad’s big brother got lockjaw, and bit off half of his own tongue. Jimmy had lay upon the couch for fifteen days, as his family watched in anguish; the little twelve year old boy, as he slowly and painfully died. Michelle recalled her father pulling out an old yellow
discolored envelope, and an even older newspaper clipping, reported on in the Erie newspaper. When they were kids they had to sit at the table and read that newspaper clipping, primarily so they knew their old man wasn’t telling some bullshit story; but also to inculcate the importance of working hard, and providing for your family. Michelle dropped her cigarette into her canned drink. She gathered her things and looked around one last time.
“Well there you go dad.”
Her countenance fell as she turned off the light switch. Closing the door she headed down the lightless sidewalk to turn in the keys to her dead dad’s apartment.