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by Emmett Dulaney

Long before my granddaughter booked the room in the back of the MCL for her son’s high school graduation party, she should have checked to see if there was a Matlock marathon on. Supposedly, the cafeteria wouldn’t give her the deposit money back after I informed her of such, but I don’t think she tried very hard.

“Did you know your mom scheduled this during Matlock?” I asked the kid and looked around to see if there was a TV in the room. There was a small one in the corner but it was set to rotate through baby and school pictures. Around it were certificates and trophies from the past eighteen years of other events I had been forced to attend.

“I’m sorry,” he said, but I could tell he wasn’t sincere. He disappeared to go talk to someone else — completely oblivious of the sacrifices some of us were making to be there.

I sat down and checked my watch to be sure it was still working. The kid’s father came over and tried to make small talk. When I pointed out that the baby pictures had already cycled through twice and some of us might want to watch something else, he excused himself but I know he didn’t really have to check on the cake.

People started hushing as some guy with a string tie appeared and began talking as if we were all in preschool. He introduced himself as the manager and thanked everyone for coming. He then explained what food was on the line tonight and how it was ok to cut in front of everyone else out there since we were with the group. He asked if there were any questions and that is when I just about lost it. I demanded to know why he wouldn’t return my granddaughter’s deposit. He made a face, said he had no idea what I was talking about, and my granddaughter crossed the room faster than I would have thought possible on such stubby legs.

“Grandpa!” she said in a stern voice. “This is hardly the place …”

“It’s because of this place that we are discussing this!” I declared. “That man right there knew there was a Matlock marathon on and he still made you have this today. He easily could have let you reschedule. He could have …”

“I didn’t tell him about your TV show,” she whispered. “I just said that I did.”

“Why?” I whispered.

“Because I wanted to have this party today and I didn’t want to have to change it just for you.”

“Aha!” I yelled and tried to get to my feet. “Just like season two, episode two! The blind man killed the man who blinded him and then tried to make it look like it was the person’s girlfriend that did it!”

“You’re not Ben Matlock,” she replied, “and this is not the same thing.”

“No,” I announced smugly and nodded to where a camera should be. “It’s a lot worse …”

Emmett Dulaney lives in Indiana and teaches marketing. A true Matlock fan, his stories have appeared in Hoosier Lit, Shotgun Honey, and the Burningword Literary Journal.