Crystal Senter-Brown

Good Man

She is not nearly
as pretty as my mother.
My brother and I

make faces at her
when she is not looking. Her
dress is too tight, her

hair is teased and dyed;
but she makes my father feel
young again. (Mama

does not know about
her.) One day, she and Daddy
dropped me and my brother

off at the Main Street
movie complex, giving us
twenty dollars each.

They promised us they
would return before sundown,
and we ate our

way through all things good,
buttery and sweet. Seven
hours later we skipped

back out onto the
sidewalk to await our father,
but he never comes.

So we board the last
bus of the day, our
stomachs aching, not

from the pounds of salt,
butter, and sugar, but from
what from we knew would

happen once we all
arrived back home. Just as we
are stepping off the

bus, our father’s
shiny white Cadillac speeds
up beside us. “Daddy!”

we both yelled, as if
we had not seen him in all
of our years. Just then,

our mama peeks
out the front door, her head a
halo of fat, pink

rollers. "Come inside,"
she yells, "before you catch your
death." And we fall in

line, her army of
misfits, sitting down for a
dinner of Daddy’s

favorites: chicken,
corn and sweet potatoes. As
we take our first

bite, Mama asks: “Where
on earth have you been for the
entire day and

night?” And without a
second thought my brother and
I yell: "We saw THREE movies!”

just as our father
mumbles: “We went fishing at
Panther Creek park.” The

room swelled, our words
hung in the air, with no one
to rescue them. The

only sound that dared
to remain was fork- scraping-
plate, fork- scraping -plate.