Colin Rowe lives in Santa Fe, NM and has been published by Cracked.com, The Boston Literary Magazine, The Eunoia Review, and a dozen other flash fiction zines. He tweets under the handle @lowericon and can also be found on WriteOn and Scribophile.Zombie Colin (@lowericon) | Twitter
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I wore a small fringed vest over a t-shirt with a dinosaur on it. Between the bottom of my denim shorts and the tops of my cowboy boots there were about two inches of chubby, pale, hairless leg. I donned my suede cowboy hat and strapped a plastic cap gun into the holster on my belt. I was ready.
I took the first half of the steps on foot, descending to the landing where they turned abruptly. The second half I slid downwards on my belly like a sled. This dislodged my gun and I had to go halfway back up to get it, jumping back down in a single thump. Grandma was in the kitchen, making scrambled eggs.
“Do I look good or what?” I said, posturing proudly in my western getup.
“What.” She replied.
“I said do I look good or what?”
“I SAID,” I raised my voice so the poor old woman could hear me, “DO I LOOK GOOD OR WHAT?”
“What.” She said again.
I gave up. She was hopeless. I pulled myself up into one of the kitchen chairs where toast and butter were already laid out. Mom never cooked like this. Grandma brought me a half-full glass of milk and a plastic plate with scrambled eggs and…something.
“What’s the black stuff?” I asked, squishing up my face in trepidation.
“I don’t like pepper.”
“Oh, but it’s no good without the pepper. Try it.”
Twenty years later, I had conned the grown-ups into accepting me as one of their own. Grandma was long dead and they were talking about her around brunch. I sat and listened, sipping sparkling white wine and orange juice.
“I think she was probably depressed,” says Aunt Roberta.
“We couldn’t have known,” says Mom, “depression wasn’t a real disease back then.”
“She wasn’t unhappy,” says Dad, “she was just…truculent. She had a snap to her. A little fight.”
“Maybe I’m remembering differently,” says Aunt Roberta, “or maybe she just talked to me differently because I’m a girl.”
I looked down at my scrambled eggs. I had peppered them just moments before, and I tried to recall any other memory I could use to join in the conversation. She put pepper on eggs and she was hard of hearing. That was all I knew. Wait. WAIT…She wasn’t hard of hearing…THAT WAS A JOKE!
The full impact of a punchline simmering for two decades finally boiled over and spilled out of my mouth in screaming guffaws. The grown-ups jerked their heads and stared bewildered while I held my ribs and sprayed mimosa out of my nose.