Dad Always Said
by Ryan Kelly
Mom made him go to his room and closed the door behind him. She said she and Dad had to have a talk and that he couldn’t leave. He guessed that all those papers in her hand had something to do with it. The only other time he’d seen someone with that many pieces of paper was Ms. Collette when she passed back everyone’s spelling quizzes.
He thought about assembling his new Lego set. But he had already told Sammy that he’d wait for him to build the spaceship pictured on the front of the box. Dad always said that a promise is a promise and that you need to keep a promise to a friend. And besides, now was a perfect time to finish the drawing.
On his knees he scampered to his bed and reached underneath the box spring. He pulled out a long, white piece of construction paper and one of Dad’s old shoe boxes that rumbled with loose pencils of various colors. He dumped out the contents of the shoe box and laid down on his belly with his drawing before him. Mom was doing most of the talking in the other room.
Don’t try and apologize now, Carter…
He hadn’t finished the robber yet. He reached for a black pencil and started to create arms, and then a body, and then a neck. The robber had to be next to Dad so that Dad could put the handcuffs on him and take him to the jail. But he didn’t have a silver pencil for the handcuffs so he decided the handcuffs would have to be blue. He thought that Dad wouldn’t mind blue handcuffs if he explained the situation. Mom was talking louder.
You’re not the man I married anymore…
He always was so eager to tell his friends that Dad was a policeman. Dad even let him bring his badge in to show-and-tell once. Some of the other kids tried to say it was a fake but he told them that it was the real thing, and he let them hold it as proof. When he told Dad about it that night, Dad said that those kids were just jealous and wished their fathers had cooler jobs.
I’m begging you Rebecca, please don’t…
The last time he made a picture for Dad, Dad brought it into the police station and kept it on his desk. It was of a police car, and Dad said his boss thought it was the best one he’d ever seen. He gripped the pencil tighter at the thought. This new drawing would have to be even better.
Stop lying to me…
Dad was going to be so excited when he saw it. The drawing was of the first bad guy Dad ever arrested. He had heard the tale a hundred times before. But he loved to watch Dad tell the story, because Dad would always smile from beginning to end.
I don’t give a damn what other cops were doing. How could you take that money?
Finished. He sat up and held his drawing close to his face for a final inspection. This was probably the best drawing he had ever done. It was all there: the flashing lights, the robber, and most importantly, the bag of stolen money. He hoped Mom and Dad were done talking soon so he could show it to Dad. But Mom was screaming now, and it caught his attention.
How could you do this to us? To your son? You’re looking at ten years, Carter…
He placed the drawing in his lap. What was Mom yelling about? Could it be those papers? He imagined Ms. Collette bringing Mom a stack of his spelling quizzes with red marks all over them, and the trouble that awaited. He crawled over and put an ear to his bedroom door.
Please, Rebecca. Just let me talk to Matthew. Let me tell him what’s going to happen.
Oh no. When Mom is angry and sends Dad to talk him, that’s when he’s in real trouble. But Dad wouldn’t be mad, not after he showed him the drawing. He was sure Dad would love it. He made it just for him.
Five minutes in there, then I want you out…
Footsteps in the hall shuffled in his direction, but stopped when they reached the door. With his ear still pressed against the wood, and the drawing in his hand, he could hear Dad mutter something about God and a word Mom said to never say at school.
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Ryan Kelly is a graduate student living in Boston, MA. Previous short works of his have been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, Sirens Call eZine, and Beyond Imagination.