by Robert Scotellaro
They watched the old casino go down. The synchronized explosives giving the illusion it was slowly sinking into the earth. “I loved that friggin’ place,” the father said, staring into the pall and rubble. They hadn’t seen each other in over six years. But after the father buried his third wife (the other two still blowing cigarette smoke at their TVs and cursing him) he called. His eldest, to meet him in Las Vegas. Said he felt lucky. Lucky enough for the both of them.
His dad was wearing a silk shirt and those horrible white pants when they met up later at the Flamingo. There was so much the son wanted to tell him: how he skydived for the first time. Walked the earth a little differently, now that he wasn’t smeared across it. A bit more restlessly perhaps. How he was taking a class. Making musical instruments out of found objects. A motor oil can guitar you could actually play. He was learning to play. How he wanted to quit his job at the plant, do voice-overs for a living: cartoons and TV commercials. How Vicky said he was good at it (when he wasn’t overdoing it and driving her nutty). That the couples counseling, this time, was helping.
But when he quipped a few times in a Donald Duck voice or an exaggerated super hero baritone, his father just gazed at him as though his eyes had suddenly crossed or turned a different color. Said nothing, just ordered another drink. Then: “You need to be soused to enjoy Vegas.”
At the craps table his father drew a crowd. Winning at first, betting big — his colorful urgings with each release of the dice causing laughter. Sweet-talking them as they rattled in his loose fist, till his luck ran out, and he was just an old man again, spilling his drink onto his spit-shined loafers.
In the restroom, the son held him up as he puked into the sink. Tried once more to make a joke of it with a silly voice. His father looked up, smiled this time. “That’s good,” he said. “Reminds me of what’s his face? On TV. You know — what’s his face?”
“That’s him,” the son said in his real voice, taking a paper towel to his father’s chin. His real voice becoming more and more unfamiliar to him (restrained) — considerably less interesting.
Robert Scotellaro has published widely in journals and anthologies, including W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International, NANO Fiction, Gargoyle, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and many others. Two of his stories were Best Small Fictions winners (2016 and 2017). He is the author of seven literary chapbooks, several books for children, and three full-length flash and micro story collections: Measuring the Distance, What We Know So Far (winner of the Blue Light Book Award), and Bad Motel. He has, along with James Thomas, edited New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, published by W.W. Norton & Company (August 2018). Visit him at rsflashfiction.com.