By Michael Diebert

November 1, 2021


My father-in-law, Vietnam vet, ex-medic, sat in his low-slung love seat. The thermostat was set at 80. Outside was 100. Through the sliding glass, the Strip shimmered like an alternate planet. If we could sell this house, he said again, we could be nearer you guys. I’d get a little job. Twenty hours a week, nothing taxing. He moved his shoulder and squinted, sucked air through his teeth. Every five minutes he changed channels. Everything was of equal interest, and of none: John Wayne, shouting Congressmen, time-saving skillet, Hitler’s bunker, Hail Mary wobbling like a shot quail into the corner of the end zone. Dinner was some warmed-over thing. He shoveled it down, small fists on short arms. A faint smile flickered over his face. He said this town was more fun when the gangsters ran it. Three bucks for a steak and a big baked potato. We were brats on furlough. They watched out for us. He laid down his fork, latticed his hands over his cane. In another body, he could have been a boss.


Michael Diebert teaches writing and literature at Perimeter College, Georgia State University. He is the author of Life Outside the Set (Sweatshoppe, 2013) and is at work on a second manuscript. Recent poems appear in jmww and Another Chicago Magazine.


Picture by Daniele Levis Pelusi courtesy of Unsplash

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