Jamie’s Dad by Kathryn Fitzpatrick

says the chiropractor’s more useless than a boob on a nun so he fishes the above-ground pool for leeches to attach to his back and suck at the tension. They are drop-stone earrings, the jagged spine of a tired horse. Jamie’s dad drinks Coors Lite after work after he shrugs off his jacket with the faded patch that says Jimmy like a little boy. He flings his boots to the TV room and puts on Teva sandals and cradles himself in the old corduroy couch with the sagging bottom. He hides mounted fish in the attic, Alaskan salmon and rainbow trout, scales worn brown from the time before he was a college DJ, when he spun women with Michael Jackson and George Michael and they all boogied down on sticky floors with the Styx. When his wife throws Halloween parties, she drapes the walls in red fabric and he sees himself in funhouse mirrors. Haunting. His round reflection in the cold blue mountains on his beer. After one party Jamie’s dad took me to his gun collection in the space above the bathroom. How they stood erect on the walls! Corporeal. Black. Proud on hard white. He took down the shotgun with the rusted mouth and let me hold it like the baby no one’s trusted me to hold. Said I was the son he never got and didn’t deserve. Said I was a slim replica of the mannish daughters he already had churned from a conveyer belt, each a little rougher than the last.

Kathryn Fitzpatrick serves as the Editor-in-Chief of  Helix Magazine and as a prose reader with the Adroit Journal. Her essays have been featured in Out Magazine, Gravel, and Crack the Spine, among others, and have been called, “biting, brutally honest, and not school appropriate” by her high school principal.

Photo by Jp Valery