I asked Dad
what he’d been doing lately.
He said he’d been having
nice phone conversations.
I asked who he’d been talking to.
He said Jason.

“Who’s Jason?” I said.

Dad’s eyes brightened.
He released one hand
from the pocket
of his corduroy pants,
his crooked fingers shaking
as he talked.

“Jason. Yeah.
Real nice guy,” he said.
“At Johnson’s Paste Wax.
I called him.
He told me what to do.”

Dad shuffled to the
strip of worn hardwood
beneath the front window.
He leaned against the wall
and skimmed his felt slipper
over the scratches
left by a long-dead Labrador.

“Yeah, Jason,” he said.
“Real knowledgeable.
Said I could buff this out,
make it shine again,
with just a little paste wax
on a soft cloth.”

The afternoon sun stretched
across the planks
in a sheen of burnt gold.
Dad lowered himself
into the elephant ear chair,
resting his curled hands
on the dishtowels
that covered the frayed arms.

I sunk into a plaid sofa
and wedged my Coke
next to a mixing bowl
of prescription bottles
on a wicker end table.

“Well, that’s good Dad,” I said.
“What else is going on?”

Dad clacked his teeth.
He looked out the window,
his eyes wandering
as red leaves fell
on dry grass.

“Yeah.” he said.
Very knowledgeable.
From Johnson Paste Wax.”

I nodded and put my hand on his,
his mottled skin cool like silk.

“He said to call him,” Dad said.
Yeah. Jason.
Real nice guy.”

Selected byNolcha Fox
Image credit:KWON JUNHO

Ann Kammerer lives near Chicago, and is a recent transplant from her home state of Michigan. Her short fiction and narrative poetry have appeared in several publications and anthologies, and have received top honors in a writing contest or two.