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Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death
Pluto Wars

Greg Chandler
"Bee's Tree"
"Local Folk"
"Roland's Feast"
"Pond Story "

Doug Childers
"The Baptism"

Gene Cox
The Sunset Lounge

Clarke Crutchfield
"The Break-In"
"The Canceled Party"
"The Imaginary Bullet"

Jason DeBoer
"The Execution of the Sun"

Deanna Francis Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Dennis Must

Charlie Onion
"Love Among the Jellyfish"
Pluto Wars
"Feast of the Manfestation"

Chris Orlet
"Romantic Comedy"

Daniel Rosenblum
"A Full Donkey"

Deanna Frances Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Andrew L. Wilson
"Fat Cake and Double Talk"


The Break-In
Clarke Crutchfield

Backyard air flowed into the room like cold water, and Tyler stirred and saw that his father was in the room.

For a time, the presence of his father got mixed up with his dream, with other impossibilities. In his dream, Tyler had been looking at a great thick book whose title he could not make out. When he opened it, the flat pieces of paper sprang up into three-dimensional houses and banks and churches—a whole world from nothing.

It was strange. The air was so cold, yet he was sure his mother had closed the window at bedtime. He had the impression that autumn air was flowing into his room straight from the town in the book. Tyler watched from his bed as a flat silhouette moved from the window and became his father.

"Damn," his father said, tripping. "What the hell was that?" It was Teddy, Tyler's stuffed lion.

"Hi, Daddy," Tyler said.

"Shut up, Tyler." Tyler felt pushed back into bed by his father's anger. "You'll wake up the girls." His three sisters were down the hall.

"Yes, sir." Tyler found that he was whispering, as if he were in on a conspiracy. "How did you get up here? Does Mother know?"

"It's none of your business whether your mother knows it or not." His father stood over the bed, breathing hard. "Don't you think I have a right to come into my own house?"

"Sure. Yes, sir." Tyler knew he deserved the rebuke; it was a dumb question. Anyone could get the ladder from the paint shed, climb to the roof of the back porch and open the window.

"I bought this house," his father said. "I paid for this house. I come and go as I please."

This was not true. Daddy was the reason Mother locked the doors and nailed shut the windows downstairs. But, "Yes, sir," Tyler said. "Yes, sir."

It could not be said that his father was swaying, but there was something unsteady about him, like a big tree coming loose from the soil where it is rooted. Tyler smelled liquor. But there was also the reassuring smell of his father's jacket, a mixture of tobacco and wet leaves and, somehow, musty books. He pictured his father on the bed upstairs in his own mother's house, where he lived now, smoking and reading books from the attic.

Then something changed in his father's manner; anger flickered out like a match.

"How did you get that knot on your head?" He touched his son's head gently. "I can see it in the dark."

"Softball hit me."

"It must have hurt."

"Yes, sir."

"What position do you play?"

"Right field. That's where they put the bad players."

"No. That's all right. Right field is an important position. What happened?"

"Pop-up fly. I missed it."

"No, you didn't."

Tyler started to laugh but stopped, afraid to make noise. His mother and his big brother were downstairs. He had heard stories from his sisters about what happened when Daddy broke into the house. His sisters didn't quite know, either, but they reported that a terrible commotion took place downstairs while they huddled at the top of the stairs.

One morning Tyler came downstairs and found his older brother Robert at the breakfast table, ignoring a bowl of cereal.

"Where's Mom?" Tyler said.

"She's at the doctor's." Robert's voice was flat.

"What's the matter with her?"

His brother considered for a moment. "She fell and bruised her head."


"Didn't you hear anything last night?"

Tyler was alarmed. "What happened?"

"Daddy was here last night."

"What happened? What happened?"

"Shut up, Tyler. Don't get so excited. I told you. Daddy was here."

It seemed to Tyler then that his brother was looking at him with contempt for his ignorance. And when his brother got up from the table and announced, "I hate Daddy," Tyler felt ashamed of himself for not quite knowing why.

Now, his father was here in Tyler's room. "Daddy, why did you come?"

"Why?" Exasperation came back to his father's voice. "It's my house. It's my own family. Isn't it?"

"Yes, sir."

"What are you going to do?" Tyler said.


"Yes, sir."

For a moment his father seemed to be listening to something. Tyler could not tell if it was something outside or the sound of the television downstairs, where Mother and Robert were.

Now his father's voice was quiet and even. "Tyler, I'm sorry I woke you. I just wanted to pay you a visit. I can come into my own house anytime I want, can't I?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good night, son."

The window closed and his father was gone. There was peace in the house that night because Tyler awoke from a dream about a book that sprang up into streets and houses and churches.

Many years later, Tyler would have another dream, of a silhouette appearing in the window of his childhood and coming so close to his bed he could almost touch it: his father emerging from a lost and unknowable shadow.



About the Author

Clarke Crutchfield is a copy editor for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, to which he also contributes occasional articles. A graduate of the College of William and Mary and a lifelong Virginian, he has written short stories for WAG under his own name, and travel articles, book reviews and commentaries for the magazine under the pen name of Arthur Alexander Parker.


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