Glenda looks up suddenly. Charlie is dragging a toy automobile across the kitchen floor.
“It won’t work,” Charlie says.
“Here, let me see it,” Glenda says. Charlie seems on the verge of tears. Glenda studies the car, partly constructed from Legos. She twists a small plastic piece that shows the car’s wheels.
“There, now it will work.”
“No, it won’t,” Charlie says.
Glenda puts the car on the floor, points at it, rolls it back and forth, and lets it go. It leaps across the room and crashes into the refrigerator. Charlie goes over and nudges it with his foot.
“Do you want to play with it?” Glenda asks.
“No,” says Charlie.
“Then pick it up and put it away.”
He doesn’t move.
“Put it away,” she says, coming toward him one step at a time, “or I will eat you.”
Charlie runs for the stairs shrieking. The dog begins to bark.
“Look, Charlie,” Glenda says, “you are impossible. You’ve spilled the groceries, you’ve kicked over the dog’s water. Look at this mess. Let’s go outside and play a game.” She reaches for his hand, which he pulls away.
“I’ll be your pony,” she says. “Come, Charlie.”
Outside, Glenda kneels down. She thumps her hands on the grass and neighs. She moves her body up and down.
“Come,” she says. “Your pony is waiting.”
Charlie squats down and throws a leg over her back. He smiles as she bumps him up and down, while he holds onto her sweater.
Up on the second floor, Ellen watches Charlie and Glenda as they play on the grass. She is alarmed, and comes rushing down the stairs, and out the front door. “Glenda,” she cries out. “Stop this at once.”
“Your father is enjoying this,” Glenda says. “I’m sorry, but all this is hard work.”
“Dad,” Ellen cries, “get off of Glenda. If you keep this up, we’ll have to send you to the nursing home.” She turns to Glenda, “As for you, young lady, I have never seen such behavior. This goes beyond normal caregiving.”
Charlie looks up at Ellen, his daughter. “She’s just being nice,” he tells her. “She’s just being nice, like your Mama used to be.”
He looks down at Glenda.
“Giddyup horsie,” he says.
Dick Bentley has published fiction, poetry, and memoir in over 260 magazines and anthologies on three continents. His books, Post-Freudian Dreaming and A General Theory of Desire, are available on Amazon. His new book, All Rise, contains, along with poems and short stories, samples of his inventive “wall poetry” —- poems that are displayed as part of paintings and graphic art. These fresh and unusual works have been shown in collections and art galleries.
Dick has served on the board of the Modern Poetry Association (now known as the Poetry Foundation). He’s a Pushcart Prize nominee and was prizewinner in the Paris Review/Paris Writers Workshop International Fiction Awards.
Before teaching writing at the University of Massachusetts, Dick was Planning Director for the Boston Housing Authority. He is a Yale graduate with an MFA from Vermont College.