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Half Steps

I drove two hundred miles to Junior's funeral. His suicide had made the big-city papers. His father Charles Senior my former stepfather had turned him in to the feds for treating their pharmacy chain like a candy store.

Senior monitored the knot of reporters through a parted curtain. My mom's empty eyes stared at the casket. I spit on my fingers and smudged the rouge on Junior's cold cheek.

Steps don't count.

Johnny Carson's audience laughed as Junior crept across the hall at 12:30 A.M. every Friday night. He drowned himself in Senior's Black Suede cologne and wore only his daddy's saggy briefs. Creature of habit that he was, Junior always reminded me we weren't blood relatives.

Steps don't count.

Whispers ricocheted within circles of dry-eyed mourners. The one-page guest book lay open and empty. The cloying scent of dead lilies from the parlor next door sickened me. Suzanne, Senior's daughter from a momentary marriage, entered, shoved a Post-it note against Junior's pillow, and strode out.

I fished the paper out of his casket unseen. After reading it, I slipped it back where she'd stuck it.

Now only this step counts.

I rushed outside. Her headlights pierced the dark. Her engine growled awake. She sent loose asphalt rock flying as she peeled out of the parking lot.

No stopping her.

Story by:

Michelle Fidalgo

22 December 2016