Enjoy Being Human

Scott Vetsch

Nola's Dad

The night Nola's dad died he fell down and hit the back of his head. That's not what killed him. It was the drinking and smoking, the one lung, the weak heart, and the cirrhosis of the liver. The Doctor told him if he kept drinking like that, he'd be dead in five years. Nola's mom kept track: four years, three years, said, "Gene you got two years left."

They lived in opposite ends of a trailer, it was cheaper than a divorce. They'd paid it off and didn't need much space anyway. They had a television and recliner in each end.

When Nola's mom found him dead that morning in bed, he'd outlived his prognosis by five years and she figured, all things considered, he couldn't complain.

When the cops showed up they discovered blood on his pillow, and wrapped a crime scene ribbon around the whole trailer.

In the back of the squad-car, Nola's mom got the third-degree,
"Did you argue last night?"

"Of course," she replied, "We argued every night."


Standing around the kitchen table
at the farm,
everyone dressed to attend
grandpa's funeral,
I turned to great-uncle Lester,
black suit coat over his
stripy bib overalls,
"See you at church."

"I'm not goin'," he said.
Stunned, I gasped, "Really?!"

"I don't like their music," he replied.

But mom said later
it was cuz
he'd have to
take off his cap

He was tall and lean,
face like a hawk,
dark wounded eyes
below long bushy brows,
not much hair left on top.

Lester got pulled over
at the stop sign
down by Oris Sletta's.
He rolled down his window,
said, "Whadja pull me over for?"

The sheriff pointed,
"You drove clear through that stop sign!"

"I know it," Lester told him.
"I never stop for that one!"

Lester avoided small talk,
yups, nopes, not much for goodbyes.
You'd look toward the end of the driveway
where he'd parked his Plymouth
and notice it was gone.

An established Norwegian bachelor farmer,
a youngest brother,
Lester never left home, never changed
farmed that one-sixty the rest of his life,
played cribbage at the cafe
watched TV by the stove,
at eighty-five, he clarified
with infamous brevity
why he never married.

"Too expensive."

At his own funeral,
attendance inescapable,
he was buttoned into suit and tie
with everyone watching.

No one thought to let him
wear his cap.

About Scott Vetsch

Contributor headshot, Scott Vetsch

Scott Vetsch is a carpenter and collector of folklore. His father was a photographer; a collector of images. His grandmother and great-uncle were storytellers and through them, lying on the floor listening, he learned the art of conversation. Scott believes in earth, air, and water. He has listened to the right voices and the wrong voices, has made friends and lost friends. He loves finding the mythical in the everyday river and setting those images into stories and poems. He likes to believe he has a story to illustrate every possibility. Scott likes to fish because it gives him a way to interact with the natural world on a more elemental level. He believes writing is like fishing: to catch a fish, you need your line in the water. Some days you catch the fish, other days you walk home with only tomorrow.

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