The Blue Mountain Review June 2021

Page 286

inheritance BY: Ryan F. love Charlie watched the storm. I imagine he ate roast chicken, potatoes. When the flashes made him nervous, he studied the Lord’s Prayer and a monochrome family picture on the wall. He’d seen his Uncle Leroy just in that photograph and the distance. He only knew his uncle’s farm was across their field, with much more land and many more cows, and that his daddy never uttered Leroy’s name.

It happened as mama washed dishes. Lightning cut the darkness, simultaneous thunder

shook glassware, and fire blazed from the roof of Uncle Leroy’s blasted barn.

“Get my coat,” his daddy ordered. Charlie dashed for it, and still throwing on the coat, his daddy ran into the storm.

“But we don’t like Uncle Leroy!” Charlie exclaimed.

“Sometimes that doesn’t matter,” his mama said.

I was never inside my dad’s childhood home, which we passed once on a country road I can

no longer find. I also never asked if storms bothered him as a boy, or why he went by “Charlie” over “Charles.” Over the years I filled in details of that memory as I ransacked it for answers.

Dad told me that story three times. Once, at a family reunion, when I asked why everyone

cried as Grandpap shook his brother Leroy’s hand. Once at Grandpap’s funeral. Once more when cancer had nearly finished with him. I resented that telling. Dad knew how short his time was, and of all the stories that were about to die with him, he repeated one I already knew.

He did tell me the feud was over land, some clause in my great grandfather’s will.

Driving backroads in Middlesex Township one afternoon, I saw a rotting barn with a tobac-

co ad on its side and pulled over. I imagined lightning and what I might have done.



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