my old man

16 years old

during the depression

I'd come home drunk

and all my clothing-

shorts, shirts, stockings-

suitcase, and pages of

short stories

would be thrown out on the

front lawn and about the


my mother would be

waiting behind a tree:

"Henry, Henry, don't

go in. . .he'll

kill you, he's read

your stories. . ."

"I can whip his

ass. . ."

"Henry, please take

this. . .and

find yourself a room."

but it worried him

that I might not

finish high school

so I'd be back


one evening he walked in

with pages of

one of my short stories

(which I had never submitted

to him)

and he said, "this is

a great short story."

I said, "o.k.,"

and he handed it to me

and I read it.

it was a story about

a rich man

who had a fight with

his wife and had

gone out into the night

for a cup of coffee

and had observed

the waitress and the spoons

and forks and the

salt and pepper shakers

and the neon sign

in the window

and then had gone back

to his stable

to see and touch his

favorite horse

who then

kicked him in the head

and killed him.


the story held

meaning for him


when I had written it

I had no idea

of what I was

writing about.

so I told him,

"o.k., old man, you can have it."

and he took it

and walked out

and closed the door.

I guess that's

as close

as we ever got.