October 2008 / Volume 8 / Issue Three
Justin Hyde
merit badges

little before five on a tuesday

i work third shift

should be asleep
on that mattress over there
corner of the basement

but i'm on the couch
in the dark
working through a
tepid case of
bud light
trying to decide
if i should laugh or cry
over the last decade.

door opens

lights flicked on

my son
month shy of
two years old
comes plodding in.

wife goes upstairs

we don't talk much these days

this is how she says
time to get up.

tuesday nights
she watches tv
at a friend's house

i hear the front door close

car start.

what doin' daddy?
he asks
sing-song voice
picking up a can
off the floor.

what this?
he hands it to me.

he's never seen me
drinking

drunk a few times

but i had this
pollyanna notion
i'd be able to
hide it from him.

these are daddy's merit badges,
i say.

merit badges,
he parrots
disturbingly
clear.

ivan do?
he asks
as i finish off the one
in my hand.

not until you're twelve,
i smile

pick him up

playfully bite his neck

spear two hot dogs with a fork

and hold them over the stove

for our dinner.
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