“Army Man” By: Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

My father became a gambler after his tank was blown up and he left the Army. We never had to use food stamps again. His luck held for a long time. He felt like he was ten feet tall. My mother was shrinking. Anxiety made her hair and teeth fall out.
 
I asked my father: Have you made a pact with the Devil?
 
He laughed at me. He lifted my mother onto his shoulders and rode her around the back yard, as if she were a disabled Girl Scout in uniform or a wax saint on a narrow street in Spain. Before he knocked over the barbecue grill, he was about to grill fish with their heads on, eyes wide, like his were after his tank blew up.
 
He was barefoot, fooling around, trying to make my mother think that he was going to flip her off his shoulders or just drop her. She shrieked in his ear like an over excited chimpanzee. She would have torn his face off if it weren’t so tightly attached.
 
He walked across the hot coals that fanned out from the toppled barbecue. He didn’t plan it—he was just wheeling around like a crazy man. The barbecue was old and rusty and a wheel had fallen off. He was the first man in the modern West to walk across hot coals.


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