A drunk Falstaff lay upon the kitchen floor. Beside it, Angel’s father. Another dozen or so cans of beer scattered across the kitchen table, as if a battle had taken place, and the cans were the crumpled carcasses of soldiers emptied of their sprits. The body of the living man twisted in fractured ways. His face held both grimace and smile. A dribble of spit crept from the corner of his mouth and fastened onto the collar of his shirt. His snore droned like the throated chants of monks. His Angel watched him from the door.
She put her schoolbooks on the counter and righted a fallen chair. Each can clunked like a deadened bell as she dropped them into the trash. The dishrag gummed with the dried beer. Angel rinsed the cloth multiple times before the tabletop was clean. All through this, the man did not move. She wiped the spittle from his chin.
The kitchen in a new order, Angel took a beer from the refrigerator and sat at the table. She opened the beer and drank. Angel sagged in the chair, like old when sat in the sun, and left. Life moved around her. She was the immobile center.
Her father began to roll to one side. He moaned, almost as if he were the dead losing the last glimpse of light before the descent into the underworld, then he splayed, arms and legs askant, crucified upon the kitchen tile.
“Jesus,” Angel said.
She knelt beside her father.
“OK, old man,” she said, “let’s get up.”
The man’s head rested on his daughter’s lap for a moment as she worked her arms beneath him. With a heave, he sat up. Angel put his hands on the seat of the chair and coaxed him onto his knees, as if he were in prayer.
“On three,” Angel said. “One. Two.”
Her father stood on his own.
“I’m fine,” he said.
The young woman steadied him.
“I just need to some sleep.”
“I’m going to tell you about my day.”
The man and the woman tacked from the table to the counter to the doorframe to the hallway.
“I scored a perfect on my history test.”
Her father raised his hand to pause. He breathed heavily. Sweat matted his hair.
“I should make the honor roll again this semester.”
They continued to the bedroom door.
“I’m probably going to get elected to the May Day court. Maybe even the Queen.”
One step into the room, the drunk man’s knees buckled. Angel pushed him headlong onto the bed.
“The volleyball team should make it to the tournament.”
She laid him out, as if for a viewing.
“Your mom would have been proud.”
His breath labored. Angel smoothed his hair.
“I love you,” he said.
“I know. I love you, too.”
Angel kissed her father on the cheek.
Richard Stimac has published a full-length book of poetry Bricolage (Spartan Press), over forty poems in Michigan Quarterly Review, Faultline, and december, and others, nearly two-dozen flash fiction in Blue Mountain, Good Life, Typescript, and three scripts. He is a poetry reader for Ariel Publishing and a prose reader for The Maine Review.
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