TITLE: The Big Ugly
Since he was left alone by his wife's death to raise their two young boys, Jerry Fulks has been sleeping through life. When he finds a corpse in his estranged mother’s dining room he’s forced to wake up -- the dead man is a brother Jerry didn’t know he had and Jerry’s about to be arrested for his murder.
It was only June but both my boys, warmed to a simmer by the stuffy morning heat in our small house, were already whining about spending another day running feral under the hot sun at day camp. They wanted to go to their grandmother’s house instead.
I wasn’t having it but then John brought up their dead mom.
It’s been three years, but even when I know it’s a cynical ploy to get what they want, I can’t trump dead mom. The boys used to pull it out only in emergencies, but recently they’ve been slapping it down over deuces and threes and I don’t have the energy to fight it. Someday I’ll have to stand strong, but not today. Today was just too damn hot.
Today I dropped them at their grandmother’s. “They’ll go to the rec center for the rest of the week,” I explained to her when I pulled up to her driveway.
“Boys need a boss,” she explained back to me, “not a negotiator, Jerry.” Then she kissed my head and herded my boys through her gate.
Someday she's gonna to say no. It was a familiar thought about rubbing her love thin from overuse and I clipped it before it was even completely thought. I was running late and my reliable failure to stand my ground already had me feeling like a terrible parent.
My phone buzzed as I pulled away from her house. I looked at the number.