I knew my father would come for me eventually. But I’m determined not to let the nick-nick of lock picks shake me off the mid-century modern settee I bought on my own rather than accept his bequeathed oversized sofa. I set my jaw tight.
With a final click, the door cracks open before the chain catches and stops it. A gust of wind rattles the stained-glass copies of Pop Art paintings I have suction-cupped to the bay window, and for a moment the image of the front window of my childhood home—with my mother’s decorations of stained-glass flowers and hummingbirds—flashes in my mind.
Suddenly, my father, dead these past five years, kicks in the door and bursts across the threshold wearing the all-too-familiar crooked grin I see on my own face in unwanted pictures of me. In his left hand he holds a tranquilizer gun; in his right, a burlap sack.
“Hello, son,” he says matter-of-factly.
“C’mon, you bastard! Just try to get me!” I hear myself yell in the same voice he used to use to curse power tools that failed in his hands.
“There’s no sense fighting it. You can’t escape,” he says in a monotone. “Look at me. Remember Grandpa? Believe me, I know.”
“You’d like me to just give in, wouldn’t you?” I match his monotone perfectly with my own. “I’ll never surrender myself to you.”
“Look at me,” my father says again. He tilts his head toward the mirror above the mantle. “Look at yourself.” Then he points the gun toward a high school graduation photo of my son on the end table next to the settee. “Now look at your own son. See anything familiar? It’s better for everyone if you just accept it.”
“Never. I’m my own man. And so is my son.”
But when my mother appears from behind my father, my resolve dissolves. I haven’t seen her since I was ten when, as my father clumsily explained, “the angels called her back to Heaven.” As soon as she was buried, he gave me to my grandparents and left for good. My grandma used to tell me that I had my mother’s eyes, perfectly round and almond brown with flecks of gold. But with my glaucoma diagnosis just last week, I know my eyes belong to my father.
“It’s so good to see you again, honey. Oh, how you’ve grown,” she coos. “Look what I made for you. Your favorite.” She holds out a plate of oatmeal raisin cookies. “Take one. For Mommy,” she says in a hushed bedtime-story voice.
Unable to resist, I reach for a cookie. “So grown up,” she says. “And the spitting image of your father.” My eyes widen, but before I can argue, I flinch at the sting of a dart embedding in my neck. And as the lights begin to fade and the bag slips over my head, I hear my parents say in unison, “This hurts us more than it hurts you.
Kip Knott is a writer, teacher, photographer, and part-time art dealer living in Delaware, Ohio. His third book of poetry, The Other Side of Who I Am, is available from Kelsay Books. His debut collection of stories, Some Birds Nest in Broken Branches (Alien Buddha Press), is available on Amazon. You can read more of his work at kipknott.com.