Fiction from NER 36.4
Danny didn’t hear the whimper inside the house when he opened the screen door. The door swung shut behind him, and the whimper stopped almost immediately, which, had he heard it, might have made Danny wonder if whatever was moaning preferred not to be discovered. But Danny was with Sasha who had just picked him up from LAX and driven him back to his dad’s house in Redondo Beach. Sasha, like Danny, was seventeen, and she was talking about the way the moon made her feel less anxious if she looked at it long enough, and he wanted to kiss her. He was not listening to the house because it was supposed to be empty.
His dad, according to his characteristically [No Subject] e-mail, had left for a retreat three days before Danny returned from Ecuador. Per his parents’ custody agreement, Danny spent his summers with his mom. He’d spent the first seven weeks volunteering for an NGO that was helping Andean villages implement sanitation systems, and he’d spent the last ten days in Quito getting stoned with his mom, going to museums, and watching movies starring Pauly Shore.
His dad would be gone for two months maybe three, which sounded like a really long time, even for his dad who, since he’d sold his contracting firm and stopped drinking alcohol, had traveled twice to India for month-long meditation seminars. His dad said that this retreat was particularly important, and that he’d left plenty of $$$ for Danny in the kitchen drawer where he kept the German knives that were designed for cutting meat. He also said that he hadn’t had a drink in 451 days and that God was Danny’s friend even if Danny didn’t, presently, want to be friends with God. Danny had thought that was odd—not his dad claiming God was his friend; he often said things like that—but that he’d put the money, folded between two blue rubber bands, beside the knives. Three of these knives, Danny noticed, were missing.
Vincent Poturica’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Birkensnake, Columbia Poetry Review, DIAGRAM, New Ohio Review, and other journals. He lives with his wife in Long Beach, California, where he teaches English at Cerritos College and Chadwick School.