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written by: JustWaiting

My father, my dad, my daddy, he wears a ratty sweatshirt, rocking a mullet (business in the front, party in the back, right?), looking not unlike the men who stand in the alleys on the board walk, the ones he said I shouldn't go near, the ones he said were the reason I had to stay with him. If it weren't for that white mask, hiding his face, keeping his air clean, and those rubber gloves stained with oil (or mud, I don't really know), it could be easy to think he's one of the men hiding in those alleys. It could be easy to think he's a dad who protects his family by getting in the business of the deep, dark, boardwalk and the men named June Bug who always beckon to the teens with a full wallet and hatred for their parents. If it weren't for that little gold shield pinned to his chest, the one that can't quite shine like it's supposed to, people would think his job was a lot different.

Father, dad, daddy, he stands in front of a white bookshelf, beside a black trash bag. He holds a bale, a box shaped thing (he said weight fifty pounds or more!) A green rectangle he happened to find that day after kicking down a door (the grown ups behind it weren't very grown up, he had said after coming home and scooping me up in his arms.) He would have barked orders, his voice harsh, unforgiving. A voice he never used on me, never on Brother, not even when I broke my snow globes or when Brother got a bad grade. He would be holding a silver and black 9 mm Smith and Wesson. It would catch the light and reflect in the eyes on the man wearing blue beside him. My father, my dad, my daddy, he'd have his shoulder pressed against the wall and he would say "OPEN. THE. DOOR." He would use words I wasn't allowed to use.

The men inside, they would be hurrying. Hurrying to grab their guns, their cheap plastic Glocks, the ones that don't work as well as my daddy's Smith and Wesson (the gun I wasn't allowed to shoot, allowed to touch.) They'd be running about, hiding the plants they grew, hiding the bales they'd made of the plants, hiding the smoking rolls of paper. When the door wouldn't open, my father, my dad, my daddy, he would kick the door in, kick the door down, walk right through the door and the men would fall to their knees at the sight of the shiny, silver gun in my father's hands, no bang necessary. They would hold their hands to their heads and they would say more words I wasn't allowed to say. Sharp words, cutting words, words that spit and bite and scratch, but they wouldn't pierce my father's skin, or the men around him, the ones wearing blue.

My father, my dad, my daddy, he would slap pretty silver bracelets around the bad men's wrists, and he would search like my dog searches for scraps I dropped on the floor during dinner. He would know what he's looking for, he would find it fast. Father, dad, daddy, he knows the game, he knows these men can't play chess like he and I do on the weekends. The closet first, on that bookshelf, checkmate. My dad, underneath that white mask, he would grin so proud, and he would slip his gun into the waistband of his jeans while all the other men put them in their leather holsters. He would grab the fifty-pound bale with one hand, like it weighed less than I did. A man in blue would laugh, a flash would go off for evidence, sure, for evidence.

A flash would go off and a Polaroid picture would spill out, one that would hang in my father's, dad's, daddy's office, one that would be left blank, dates unfilled. Questions left unanswered unless you ask the right person. Trust me, I'm the right person. A Polaroid would flutter to the floor, don't touch it, wait for it to dry, it'll smudge the past, ruin the history, blur the future. My father, my dad, my daddy, he'll be holding up a green bale in front of a white book shelf beside a black trash bag. He'll look like the dealers in the alleys on the boardwalk. He'll look like a thug except for his mask, except for his gloves, except for his shield. A flash would go off, and unless you ask the right person, it would leave behind unanswered questions speaking in sepia.


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