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Joan Wilking

Show and Tell
 

Scene:A Kindergarten

The narrator is a little girl. She is sitting cross legged on the floor in half light at center stage facing straight out into the audience. One elbow rests on her knee. Her face is cupped in that hand. She is listening attentively. As the light comes up and spotlights her she straightens up, acknowledges that itís her turn, and begins to speak.
 

This morning Daddy found a dead body on the front lawn.

"Not the pleasantest way to start the day," he said.

He told Mommy he wasnít sure what it was.

"Iíve got a pretrial hearing at one," he told her.

Thatís why he closed the curtains, showered, dressed, kissed me, kissed her Ėshe was still in bedĖand drove halfway to the train station before he turned around and went to Uncle Sylvanís.

Uncle Sylvan isnít my uncle. Heís Daddyís law partner. He lives next door. Iíd never seen him in his nightclothes before. I was standing with Mommy when she opened the curtains. He ran by in his bathrobe and slippers.

"What the...." Iím not allowed to say the word Mommy said.

Mommy banged on the window. He waved and kept on going. Then the phone rang and there was yelling and Mommy hollering, "You get up here right now."
 

The Policeman was really nice.

Daddy said, "Donít tell him anything."

Mommy said, "Stay out of the way. Behave."
 

I know how to behave.
 

When the lady sat out front in her car for three days I behaved. When another lady called and said she was locked in the bedroom I behaved.

She said, "I need to speak to a lawyer right away."

"Donít call me again," Daddy told her, "You think heís going to kill you? Call 911."
 

I told the Policeman, "Someone should take a blanket. Cover him up. Itís so cold."

"Donít worry sweetheart," he said, "The coroner will be here soon. Weíre all going to stay right here until then."

Daddy told Mommy, "Sit down."

Mommy shouted, "I know what you were going to do. You were going to leave it for me."

"I wasnít thinking," Daddy said. "Iíve got a pretrial hearing at one."

"Calm down," the Policeman said.

"My husband found a stiff on the front lawn and tried to pretend it wasnít there and you want me to calm down," Mommy said.

Uncle Sylvan came in.

"Yup," he said, "Thereís a dead body up there on the lawn."

"No sh...!" I canít say the word Mommy said

Then the yelling started again and the Policeman tried to calm them down. Thatís when I went into my room and took the extra blanket out of closet. I put my jacket on over my nightgown, pulled on my boots, and walked really slow. The snow made a squeaky crunchy sound.

He was lying up there all right, one hand up, the other down, fast asleep. Iíd almost finished tucking him in, nice and tight, when I heard Mommy scream, and Daddy, and that nice Policeman running. Thatís when things really started getting crazy, when I heard the sound of their shoes and boots, chick, chak, chick, chak, chick, chak, running toward me in all that squeaky crunchy snow.


Joan Wilking's short fiction has appeared in The Mississippi Review, The Harvard Summer Review, Atlantic Unbound and The Barcelona Review. She lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

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