"Why didn't you ever tell me before now, Sis? How old were you?"
Cliff flicked a long, hot ash onto the pea gravel below the porch of the old house where he and Leeza had grown up. It was the first cigarette he'd smoked in eight years.
"Nine. I was nine. It happened after my ninth birthday party at the bowling alley," Leeza answered with her husky voice dialed way low.
"I want to go inside and kill that mother fucker, you know that I do. No, I want to kick him out into the street and beat him to near-death, then turn the headlights of all his yard junkers onto that pile of shit and blast a horn to wake up the neighbors...then let you scream out what he did to you that night."
A moth flew onto the porch and clunked around the bare light bulb burning above them.
"Where's a bat when you need one," Leeza wondered under her breath.
"I have one on the shelf in my old closet," Cliff said with growing excitement. "Are you thinking...."
"Cuh-rist, Cliff! I meant a bat to take out that asshole moth!" Her twitch of a smile flattened quickly when Leeza added, "He didn't do it just once — and what makes you think I'd tell a bunch of strangers what happened when it took me all these years to tell you?"
God, how he hated this house, this town. Cliff never understood why Leeza stuck around this low-life place, why in the world she chose to live in Scio only five miles away. He was no psychologist or anything but he wondered if her working at the Wal-Mart where the bowling alley used to be had any connection. He would never have come back if Leeza hadn't called saying she needed him now to help her to make decisions about the old man.
"I asked the doctor if this Alzheimer's could have hit him in his early 40's, when — you-know — started. But they said nah, this is a now thing just beginning. He's just starting to do stupider things than he ever did when he was 'normal.' Did I tell you he gave the '55 Ford away to that broad who used to be his dance partner at the club? It was no biggie, but it was my favorite of all these heaps and I think he knew it deep down in the part of him that will always want to hurt me."
Cliff lit another cigarette. "Leeza, you don't owe the bastard anything. I don't see any dilemma here. I think we should forget about him and let him rot alone inside the house eating canned beans and watching Fox News."
"And with his Bible on the side table," Leeza snarled. "This morning he read that commandment out loud to me while I was making notes about his meds. You know, the one about honoring your father and mother...that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth? The jerk. He knows he's losing it so he's playing the guilt card to keep me coming around to take care of him."
"Guilt card?" Cliff stomped the cigarette into the old wood. "You have nothing to feel guilty about!" he urged.
Cliff watched Leeza bite the corner off of a ragged fingernail and spit it into the darkness.
"Hmmm," she pondered. "Well it has never been so WELL with me. And, you think I want to live. long. on. the. earth? .....Right."
Leeza closed her eyes and let her head drop back. She took a deep breath, just in time to fully inhale the smoke from scorched, dusty wings sizzling on the porch light.
MLydiaM ~ August 2011
This Magpie is a work of fiction inspired by the photo prompt at Magpie Tales, where you can, of course, find many magnificent Magpies to read and enjoy.