Birthday Puppy

Connotation Press 2019

 I didn’t recognize the man who was standing in front of me when I opened the door, battered fedora in hand a mutt puppy in the crook of his arm.

      He spoke in an unfamiliar voice. “I was once a good father and you can repay me by giving me a place to stay. Here’s the puppy I promised you for your tenth birthday.”

      I took the puppy, let him lick my face as this stranger unwrapped a cigar and stuck it in the corner of his mouth without bothering to light it. I noticed a large well-worn leather suitcase and as he reached down for it I shut the door on him.

      He opened the unlocked door and muscled his suitcase inside. “At least thank me for the puppy or give it back,” he said. “How about a drink or do you want to show me my room first?” he asked and sat on the couch,

      I held the puppy and didn’t look at him.

      “The same old silent treatment your mother used on me. She taught you well.” He handed me a wrinkled envelope from his inner pocket. “Your mother sent me this letter years ago; I want you to read it.”

      I’m sorry I kicked you out of the house. You were right. I shouldn’t have spanked and yelled at Larry so many times. I treated him like my mother treated me. That’s all I knew about being a parent. 

      “How about that drink?” he asked.

      I poured us each two fingers of bourbon, neat. I handed him his drink and he held it out to clink. I ignored the clink and drank mine down. I punched in Uber on my cell and carried his suitcase out to the front steps, then took his glass, still with his unfinished drink, and handed him the puppy and hustled him out of the house.

      He started to say something and I put up my hand and said, “You are not my father, I am not your son.” 

      After I heard a car pull up in front of my house I pushed the drape aside and watched him get into the car and drive off. I went out to have a smoke and as I sat on the steps the mutt puppy came over and sat next to me.

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