She sat with her father at the kitchen table and looked at old photographs. A man and a woman and three children. They were strangers to him, but he liked looking at their smiles. It gave him a false sense of being. She knew the photographs would comfort him. She knew it wouldn’t trigger memories, but that didn’t stop her from loving him. He was her father, and they had so many good times together. She would remember them just for him. The pictures were outdated, and everyone in them had long been gone and started new families. They didn’t include him because of his challenged condition. He suffered from Alzheimer, and he didn’t recognize anyone.
" Your children, papa," she said.
Her father grunted.
" You see us?"
He did not reply.
" It must be difficult, I understand," she continued. " But I’ll always be here for you. I love you papa."
He almost smiled.
She took a big manila envelope from the center table and started to collect the photographs. She neatly placed them into the envelope and sealed it away. It startled him at first, but he had completely forgotten that he was even looking at pictures. He stared out the window with an empty expression. He looked more like a ghost searching for his soul.
" I’m proud to call you papa," she said softly. " You gave me strength, and now I am using it to help you gain strength."
He almost smiled again.
She thought she heard a noise coming from the yard, but she quickly brushed it away.
" When the nurse gets here," she started. " I’ll ask her if you can come with me and stay at my house. Would you like that papa?"
He did not reply.
" Of course you would," she smiled.
She heard the noise again.
" Maybe the nurse is here now," she said.
Her father did not reply.
" She has the key to the front," she looked confused. " Why is she trying to come in from the back?"
He was quiet.
Suddenly a young black man pushed his way into the kitchen snapping the door in two.
" Hey!" she shouted.
He looked at her for a moment and then took out a concealed weapon and opened fire. Hitting her father three times in the chest.
" Papa!" she screamed.
He fell motionless to the kitchen floor as the manila envelope scattered opened spilling the pictures of his past.
" Where’s your purse?" Shouted the young black man.
She looked confused.
" Your purse!" He demanded.
She pointed to the small microwave on top of the counter.
" Papa," she whispered as she crawled to her father.
The young black man emptied the contents of the purse onto the counter taking only the valuable items. " Is that all you got?"
She ignored him.
" How about the old man?"
She still ignored him.
" Take out his wallet!"
She rested her chin on her father’s bloody chest and she closed her eyes.
" Dammit, I’m not playing!"
" Papa," she whispered.
" Papa, I love you."
" Don’t get me started!"
" He has no wallet," she whispered.
" Every man has a wallet!"
" My papa," she hesitated. " He’s not well."
" Yeah, he’s dead," the young black man almost chuckled.
" You rot in hell!" She screamed.
" Man I warned you!"
She closed here eyes and thought about her father and his warm laughter. She was reliving her childhood briefly in her mind.
There were three more shots and the young woman was sprawled on the kitchen floor, face down. There was a dark spill of blood around her neck. A picture of her and her father laid in the blood.
© 2011 Frank Atanacio