ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue Two, May 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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Page 42 of 55

(cont.) He crumpled his can and flung it at the recycling bin, but it hit the lip and bounced off into the dark of the bushes. "I blew it all up," he said. "I had it all just like anybody would want, and then I blew it all up and I can't get it back." I picked at the pull tab on my empty while I thought about how to put it. "Maybe," I said, "getting it back is not the point." The screen door slammed behind us and Benji skittered across the drive all out of breath. "There was only one left." Ben pointed at me and I took the can, popped it open. A car pulled up on the gravel shoulder and honked. I gave Ben a look, but he was already headed down the driveway. Benji just stared at the sky. "It's still cloudy," he said. Not whiny, like you'd expect from a kid. He was just stating a sad fact of life. I couldn't make out what Ben was saying to his ex. He was leaning in the driver's window, red-faced and intense, probably breathing that six-pack on her which wasn't the best idea. She stared straight ahead, both hands gripping the wheel, until he ran out of steam. Then she said something about his drinking, and custody, and Ben slammed his hand on the roof of her car and stomped back up our way, his face flushed and sweating. "OK, Bubba, grab your backpack," he said. "But I thought we were having a star party!" the boy said. "I want to see the super nova!" "Come on, give me a hug and we'll go see mama." Ben swept the little guy up on his shoulders like he didn't weigh nothing at all and marched with him back down the driveway. You could see the fight go out of him the closer he got to the car, like a wind-up propeller plane that had popped its rubber band. He got Benji squared away in the backseat, then he started to lean in the driver's window again, and I guess you could have predicted, or I could have anyway, that she just tore off, leaving angry tire trenches in the gravel. He flipped her off, a weak and belated last word, and trudged back up the driveway. The clouds picked that moment to blow off and open up. Ben got all twitchy and started futzing with the telescope. "Ben." He didn't look up. Kept fooling with that thing. "Ben. Hey. What say we go down to TBone's, throw some darts or something. Look, man, that explosion will still be there tomorrow night. What do you say?" He didn't answer. He twisted the eyepiece, adjusted some knobs, turned this lens and that dial. Trying to give it a sharper focus. Trying to find the one thing that would do the trick. ▪ [END]

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