When I opened the door Papa was sitting there, one leg crossed over the other, holding a shotgun. There was an empty bottle at his feet and a glass of melting ice on the end table beside him. He stood up, holding the gun in his right hand he allowed the barrel to point towards the floor.
“Did, did ya see her die?”
“What do you mean?”
“My la, la-love.. did you see her die?”
“No Papa.. you should go to sleep”
“Na-no nobody tells me what to do”
He stumbled, kicked the bottle on the ground and used the shotgun to regain his balance. The barrel clanked on the floor. A tear swelled in Papa’s eye. He spoke trying to hold it from running down his face.
“You- you could have done something.”
“You know I couldn’t have”
“She was always disss-Ah-pointed in you, eva since you let Ellen get abused by those ba –ba boys”
“Why do you have to bring that up now? Let me take you to bed Papa”
“What I jus tells you? Na-no nobody tells me what to do.”
He stumbled again, and as he regained his balance the shotgun went off. Papa had blown a hole in the floorboard. The blast had upset Gus the family dog. The gun fell to the ground and so did Papa as he began to cry. I knelt beside him and moved his grey hair out of his eyes revealing his wrinkled face. I looked a picture on the wall of Mama, Papa, and brother Jack. All of them so young, it reminded me of simpler times. Times I dreamt about flashing back to. Times when Papa would take us fishing and Mama would be cooking. Times when Papa would walk in the house grab Mama and say “Miss Rita you drive me crazy” and Mama would say “sit down and eat, I been cookin all day”. But those days are gone and are replaced with days like this. Days where Papa drinks, and I search for the man he used to be in the wrinkles of his face.
“Come on Papa, let me take you to bed. I’ll wake you up for mass in the morning”
“I can’t sleep, them sa-sa cicadas keep me up all niahght”
“Yeah, they keep me up too”
“I’m sorry, Andy”
“It’s alright Papa, I understand”
I grabbed Papa under his arms and walked him up the stairs. His old body felt bony and thin. I put him in his bed and turned off the light. Before I could close the door he yelled out
“Don’t forget to wake me up for mass, I got some quah-questions for that sons of a bitch named Jesus Criahist”.
I chuckled and shook my head.
“Sure thing Papa”.