Issue 3 TOC
 
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by Scotty Grau



    The kid next door is getting beat.  He’s crying, his dad is yelling, and every so often a loud slap or crash replaces the yelling and the crying.  Then there’s silence.  Then the crying returns.  Then the yelling.  That’s the drill.  All before eight in the morning.  Naturally that also includes everything from one-thirty in the morning on.  But it’s currently seven-forty-five.  These walls are paper-thin and it’s happening three feet from my head.  I'm lying in bed.  It's Sunday morning.

    Kills me to listen.  I know the kid’s in hell and it’s in my power to at least do something, but I can't.  The kid's dad is my landlord.  I figure if I say something, he'll boot me out of the building for smoking so much pot.  One vice canceling out the other.  Legalize now!

    But damn the consequences; I know I should say something.  If I can save this kid from a monstrous childhood, I’m obliged.  I may even be protecting my own, since intervention could keep this battered kid next door from shooting up my own son's school one day.  Should I ever have a son.  Or a daughter.  Offspring.  Family.

    My mind sinks to murky, fantastical realms of me in a healthy relationship, producing a happy child.  I curl into my blankets and turn my smiling face into my pillow.  As father and son in the next room disturb domesticity, I play catch with my phantom boy in a field of dreams.  Lead with your elbow, m’boy!

    Eventually the popping of imaginary cowhide into ethereal mitt rings louder in my ears than the slapping of a monstrous father’s greasy hand onto his developmentally disabled son’s tear-streaked cheek.  My lids grow heavy and I drift back to sleep.  It’s Sunday morning.
 
 
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