Kitchen Vignette


She gets up from the recliner. She’s wearing her old robe and pink sweatpants. I fix her a plate, pull out a chair for her. She sits down and starts to eat like she’s starving. I know better than to ask when she ate last.

The stove is a disaster. Beneath the towel, charred patties congeal in an inch of greasy water. The whole stove smells rancid, caked with ashy spatters. The calendar on the wall–December 1981, when Pop died–is singed at the corners.

I feel my anger rise. “You’re just lucky you didn’t burn down the fucking house.”

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His Mother Obviously

The patrolman was deferential as he opened the door. “Kept it just as we found it, sir. Nothing disturbed. Made sure meself.”

Inspector O’Neill nodded and stepped in and glanced around the small living room.

Soft eyes, he called it, this way of simultaneously seeing everything and nothing.

First impressions: masculine, almost to the point of parody.

Military clean. Leather chairs, glass table, a framed reproduction of Bird’s Death of General Braddock on the wall.

In the hallway to the bedroom, two portraits: the Virgin Mary, eyes skyward. A lady with heavy eyebrows and a stern mouth.

His mother, obviously.

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