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A Dead Red Heart, Excerpt

[subscribe2]“Dad?” I called, pounding the dust off my boots on a rug. Since a fire last year nearly wiped out me, my dad, my goddaughter, Maya, and the house, I now wipe my feet on a rug before walking over his newly refinished floor. A dark burn still stains the oak‐planked floor where beams crashed  down, but dad, whose odd sense of timing never fails to amaze me, says he likes it that way.

Following the sound of the blender into the kitchen, I jiggled the pharmacy bag under my dad’s nose.

He turned off the blender. “That our meds?ʺ

I was having a hard time keeping a straight face. He was dressed in a dazzling green polyester slacks and a white shirt with a big collar. The seventies were all over the pagesof  Vanity Fair and Vogue but somehow  the  retro  look didnʹt   quite  translate  to  sixty‐eight‐year  old  men  with thinning  gray
hair  and  jug‐handle  ears.
I cringed  at the matching lime green suit jacket hanging on the back of the chair and put the bag on the table, drawing
out one small bag for him and another for his buddy, Spike.

“Okay.  Heart meds,  Lasix,  arthritis  pills,
and Spike’s crazy pills.”

“He can hear you, you know.”

I looked down at the small brown Chihuahua, his tail beating an uneven rhythm in time to some inner demon.

When he lifted a lip and snarled, I said, “And not a minute too soon, I see. When do you think the vet will take him off
the Prozac?ʺ

My dad uncapped the bottle and tipped out a pill. The dogʹs ears went up in trembling anticipation. “He’s
much better, don’t you think?”

I studied the floor trying to find something kind to say about our resident Kudjo, then got an eyeful of my dad’s shoes. He followed my stare down to his feet. ʺWhite for summer, right? Theyʹre already patent leather so I donʹt have to polish ‘em. Lucky for me, huh?ʺ

I worked my lips around the laughter bubbling up, imagining my father in retro style leisure suit, escorting his latest  squeeze to  a
potluck  at  church,  or  better  yet –a funeral and its wake. I slid a glance at the blender looking for a reasonable topic of conversation, but since the frothy blue concoction might or might not have Viagra as its key ingredient, I blurted, “You need a haircut!”

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