Maybe he won’t come back tonight. Maybe he’ll drink a lot and fall on something sharp and won’t come back
Some people talk about the dark like it’s something that hides you away, and I just don’t understand that. Even when I do feel safe under the blanket. The dark feels like it wants to swallow me.
Mom asked me once if he ever fell asleep on the bed. He never has, but now I worry about that all the time.
But he’s not here yet and I’m just about to go to sleep, thinking maybe he really did fall on something, one of those big beer bottles I find behind the couch and inside the busted magazine rack that sits beside the tv that don’t work.
Mom says I can’t remember things from when my real daddy was around, but she’s wrong. I remember crawling around in the living room floor with belts sticking out of our back pockets like tails. Daddy said we were lions, big and proud and mean. When I tell Mom I remember this, she says it was my uncle Carter, Mom’s brother, not my daddy who done that with me. Maybe she don’t remember.
Pardner. That’s what he calls me.
Pardner, this. Pardner, that.
We’re going to buy you a new bike, Pardner, he might say, or, I love your Mom, you know that Pardner?
I hear that name whispering inside my head until I'm asleep and then, like magic, I'm up before everybody and straight outside. For just a minute I let my eyes drop to the foot of the stairs thinking maybe he’ll be down there all white and dead, but nothing’s there but some old mutt stretched out in a patch of sun.
The dog is yellow and I can see its sides moving in and out real slow like. It’s fur looks shiny in the sun, looks warm and shoots that yellow color all the way back across the yard. I make my way down the steps and to the dog. When I get right up to it, I see real fast it’s a girl dog. Her belly’s all flabby and hanging off her side and almost onto the ground and she’s got titties that are hanging down there, too. I hear yelping behind me, close to the little creek that runs beside our building, and look around to see five newborn puppies.
They’re all smaller than small and twisting around at each other, trying to get up a muddy creek bank to the mommy dog. Except the yellow shiny mommy dog is just laying there with her head all plopped back on the ground and stretched out in the sun breathing slow and relaxed like. I can see milk coming out of her titties, drops here and there, wasted on the ground with the puppies at the creek yelping and hollering for some.
I keep figuring the mommy dog will jump up soon, all at once, and go down to her pups, maybe pull them one at a time. They must have pushed right on down the hill and by the creek after she had them and wasn’t able to get back up there. I watch for awhile and then get tired of standing around like that and sit on the ground. But she don’t move, that bitch. She never moves. And the puppies, they just squirm across the ground by the creek pissing on each other.