Soaked Napkins

January 8, 2008
By Katie Kowall, Arlington Heights, IL

They’re alone beside the bar. Moonlight leaking through the blinds. The sidewalks are damp from the late afternoon rain. The father stares at the poster of the Hawaiian girl. The son stares at the fifth drink in his father’s hand. Neither speaks as they unloosen their ties. Brandy swirls and spills onto the wooden tabletop. The son grabs napkins and dabs, but the father shoves him away and demands another drink. Soggy napkins litter the floor. The son bends down to pick them up. Hot tears stream down his face. All he can do is pick up the napkins. Hoping. The father tilts his head back and drinks. He stumbles out of his stool without even glancing down. He pulls crumpled money out of his suit pocket and throws it on the bar and leaves. The son takes his seat and grabs the pile of money. A torn photo falls onto his lap. It’s of a young boy on a swing with a tall man pushing him. Scribbled handwriting reads ‘sorry’. The telephone booth rings. The son holds the photograph in his hand and a soaked napkin in the other.

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