Calibers

Flash Fiction

The door closed behind Corbin.

Malcolm let his shirt drop back to his belt line.

Malcolm could feel just a touch of moisture where his grandson had kissed him on the forehead before leaving.

Jaqueline watched her grandson get into the Range Rover, then turned to Malcolm.

“ The gunshot story is old, Mal. Core is getting to the age that you glamorizing it is gonna make him want to pick up a gun.”

“ Best story I got.I like to entertain the kid. I want him to have something to remember me by.”

Jaqueline stuck her lower lip out and blew air up into her own nostrils.

“ You tell the damn story to impress the kid, and you embellish the hell out of it right before he’s leaving to see his other granddad. You want Core to choose between macho and working class and more reserved and wealthy, like Tommy is. It’s so transparent, Mal, and by the time the kid is 18 he’s gonna figure it out.”

Malcolm grunted.

“ I don’t care how wealthy and pampered the kid is gonna be because of Tommy, I don’t want him to be a pussy.”

Jaqueline sat on her husband's lap. She pulled his shirt up and for the first time in decades stared at the scar just below Malcolm's ribcage.

“Please don’t be jealous of Tommy. You're better than that. And when you tell the story, I can feel the jealousy coming off you. Corbin loves you. He doesn’t care about the myth of the tough street grandpa.”

“ Ain’t no myth, it’s real.”

Jaqueline rubbed Malcolm's face with the back of her hand. The scar descending from the corner of his nose was still a rough, ornery ridge.

“It’s based in reality, my love, but you have mythologized it over the years.”

“ Maybe. Gotta entertain the kid. Not like I can afford to take him yachting.”

Jaqueline stood, her eyebrows raised and her nostrils flared, both to the limits of the elasticity of her face.

“Tommy invited you to go with them, Malcolm. And you declined, because you’re so blasted stubborn. Which, by the way, is what got you shot in the first place.”

***

Photo by Elijah Ekdahl