by Michael Cocchiarale
Second Father gobbled sausage like First glugged his gin. “Anyway, I’m sorry,” he said, fork and knife through ground up flesh.
The misfit risked a glance. Tissues bloomed like upside down daisies from the broad holes of the fat man’s nose.
“When I bleed,” he said, “That’s when you’ve got to believe what I say.”
With great care, the misfit brought a last spoon of dry Os to his mouth.
“God knows you can’t lie blood.”
Finished, the misfit asked to please be excused. He washed his bowl and dried it. He placed it back precisely where it belonged.
In the living room stood the artificial tree, a sick green rocket on a shoe box launching pad. Mom had still not come down to bend the branches, but the manger scene had been arranged. There was Mary, Joseph, a one-armed savior in the straw. The misfit probed the cheek where Second Father had struck him. Sore as usual, but nothing loose.
Year after year, this broken Jesus returned. What had He done to deserve such a fate? And why, during a single silent night, had not His blessed parents ever once tried to blast off towards some slightly better star?
Michael Cocchiarale is the author of the novel None of the Above (Unsolicited, 2019) and two short story collections—Here Is Ware (Fomite, 2018) and Still Time (Fomite, 2012). His creative work appears online as well, in journals such as Fictive Dream, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, Heart of Flesh, and Sleet Magazine.