John sits alone in his car in a parking lot with his 11-year-old son Kenneth waiting for the rain to end. They both have ordinary names because they both have unimaginative parents. It’s 2004 and if it doesn’t stop raining in the next half hour, the Police Athletic League soccer practice will officially be cancelled and they won’t be waiting anymore. Kenneth plays center forward. Kenneth originally wanted to play baseball, but John convinced him that soccer was cooler because in soccer there’s less shit to buy. Kenneth has his head against the window watching the raindrops. John is playing the snake game on his phone. He loses, the phone beeps and John looks up and says,

‘sorry kid, looks like it’s not going to happen today.’

John pulls into the driveway, Kenneth jumps out of the passenger’s seat and runs through the rain. Home. Their front lawn has weeds in it. Kenneth trips over the top step of the front porch, gets up, swings open the flimsy white metal screen door then reaches and feeds the lock the single key he keeps inside his shoe. The key says kwikset, his shoes say all star, he throws his backpack in the foyer and runs to the bathroom to take a piss. John’s still in the driver’s seat with his hand on the keys in the turned off ignition, facing down the driveway, staring at the rain. He turns over his right shoulder to get the trash from the floor of the back seat. It’s a Sunday in September. He drives a black two door Honda. And he saunters towards the porch steps.

In the kitchen Kenneth’s eating cereal.

John dumps the shit from the back seat out of his tote bag; two crumpled wrappers of oreo cookies, some napkins, an empty yogurt cup, a metal spoon, a domino sugar packet, a pink leather moleskine notebook in an envelope and a page torn from a magazine. What Katherine thought their boy was going to do with a pink notebook was really beyond him.

Katherine sometimes calls.

John never calls Katherine Kitty, but all her friends do.

Kenneth’s at the counter mixing hershey’s syrup and milk in a glass. Johnny leans over and picks the bowl off of the table and drains the finished milk and its soggy bits. Kenneth says, “white milk is just a river to eat corn flakes on.” In the window across the table the rain’s still falling. John hears the tinking metal touching glass leaving the room.

 

 

 “John”

As Seen In The Draft Collective's Shorts Collection 2 (web/print)