“Where’s my gun at, dammit!” Daddy shouted early the next morning. “Where’s my gun at, Teenie?”
“Calm down, Daddy. The sun ain’t even up yet.” Sitting up slowly, I pushed the thin, frayed quilt I’d slept under toward the end of the couch. “I don’t know where it’s at. You had it last night.”
“You done somethin’ with it, girl.” He turned his crazy eyes to me. “I know it!”
“I didn’t do nothin’ with your gun, Daddy, but I’ll find it. Stop yellin’.”
I knew Kara Lynn had stuck around because Daddy needed someone to take care of him, and he was difficult to take care of sometimes. If she came back, it would be because she really loved him.
Kneeling down on the floor next to his recliner, I felt around with my fingertips for the gun. “What are you doin’ up?” I asked him. “You need to be sleepin’ that whiskey off.” My finger slipped into the barrel. I pinched it with my thumb and pulled it out. “See? There it is.” Pointing the pistol at the floor, I laid it on the TV tray next to his untouched omelet from last night. “Glad I was here or you would have never found it.”
The look on his face broke my heart.
“You want somethin’, Daddy? Want me to make you more food?”
He lifted himself into his wheelchair and rolled into the kitchen after me. I dumped the food from the night before into the trash. Pouring us both a glass of V8, I added some Tabasco sauce to his before I set it on the table in front of him. “So what happened to get Kara Lynn so fired up that she left?
The glass of juice in his hand trembled. I could see his mind working as he tried to remember. I sliced some spam into thick strips and laid them in the skillet I’d heated.
“She’s been after me a long time now wantin’ to get hitched. Told her I ain’t the marryin’ kind.”
“What’d she say?”
“Said if I loved her, I’d be the marryin’ kind.”
“Do you love her?”
“Smells good over there.” He sniffed, ignoring my question.
“Spam and eggs, like you like.” I popped some bread into the toaster. “The spring still broke on this thing?”
“Yep. Been meanin’ to fix it.”
“You know what?” I asked, cracking the eggs on the side of the skillet. “I saw on TV last week Spam is all they eat in Hawaii. Like every day. They don’t eat nothin’ else.”
“That so?” Daddy squinted as he peered out the small kitchen window.
“That’s what they said.” The spam slices squealed and popped as I pressed down on them with my spatula, their juice circling around the white part of my sunny-side-up eggs. “Well, almost nothin’ else. They eat pineapple, too.”
Fishing the toast out with a fork, I loaded up two plates, took them over to the table and slid into a chair across from Daddy.
“Hawaii, huh?” He loaded up his fork and took a big bite. “You’re a real good cook, Tee. You was always good at everythin’ you did.” His mouth was full of food but he kept on talking. “Always tell Kara Lynn how smart you are. Tell her how you’re better than most.” He sopped up his egg yolk with a piece of toast. “Hell, I ain’t done a lot right in my life but you make me think I ain’t all bad.”
His compliment surprised me, but it made me sad. When it’s been a while since anyone has said anything nice to you, when someone finally does, it hurts a little.
“Looky at me!” Daddy clasped his hands above his head. Winking, he gave me his best smile. “I got me this big, ol’ bright sun, some spam and eggs, and a pretty blonde girl to talk to. Shit, Tee. Hawaii ain’t got nothin’ on me.”
“Thanks, Daddy.” I couldn’t help but laugh.
“I’m stuffed.” He burped the last word. “Gotta go lie down for a while.”
“Nope. Do it all the time.”
As I watched him maneuver his wheelchair through the small doorway, his shoulders seemed smaller than I remembered.
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