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gets quiet. You can hear him out there, counting each one out. She reaches over the counter, steers the bendy mic toward her face and says, “Enough already, Jules. We got drunk to go get.” When he comes back through the door, panting and smiling like a dog, we clap. He rings up Kareen’s Doritos and my pack of gum, puts the money on the pump. “Your name tag’s spelled wrong,” I tell him, maybe rubbing it in. “It says ‘manger.’” “That’s because I’m the manger,” Julio says. He frowns when I don’t laugh. Kareen leans forward. “That mean you have a baby inside you?” Their laughter is stupid loud. I wish she wouldn’t, but Kareen tells Julio to meet us at Skiv’s when he’s off. He gives two thumbs up. We leave with the bell above the door jingling. In the parking lot, I turn back to our apartment’s kitchen window, which you can see above the Kwik Stuff roof. My fiancé washes a dish, his eyes sinkward, lips moving like he’s singing, praying, or maybe cursing my name. “Why’d you get so much gas?” Kareen says, climbing into shotgun. “Skiv’s is a mile.” She’s left the keys on the hood, for me. ______ “I’m just talking about a feeling,” I say, driving slow, taking great care not to let the truck stall. “Yeah, but in between your toes?” You can tell Kareen has a real knack for laughter. The drive to Skiv’s Bar & Off Sale is quick. Behind the wheel, I take it in. Dad taught me to drive stick when I was fifteen so I could be his and Pap’s ride home from the Legion. Pap—my mother’s dad—moved in with us after she passed in ‘04. He and Dad were like shitty big brothers through my adolescence, chock full of advice and bluster, but with zero will to cook or clean the house. I kept order. I drove them home to pristine beds, sheets tucked tight so no one would roll off to the floor. I wonder who does this for Dad now, or does he have a bed at the bar? FICTION | 15


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