Missing Chance
Len Kuntz

Here's what she says, my mother says, "People are replaceable."
Chance is a card in Monopoly. It's a probability. Once it was a boy.
"Don't give me that attitude," she says. "Go ask your sister."
My mother wears a diamond bezel watch that looks dusted with pie crust flakes. The second hand sweeps. If I had a hammer I'd pulverize it.
My stepfather is passed out on the lawn. Sober once last year. Sunburned old bastard tomorrow. For dinner he spits sunflower seeds onto the sunflower seeds beneath his chair. I'd like to think it's his teeth he's spitting out. He has a tattoo of Satan on his shoulder from his navy days. You should see his left hook.
Everything we own is out there. Amy says we should blow up pages of our diaries and sell those, too. I tell her I don't have one, a diary, and she says, "Sure you do. Don't be an asshole." She punches my chest so hard I cough. "You could be a doctor," I say. Wait: she is one, the certificate just hasn't arrived.
Someone pounds on the screen door. It's an Asian lady in a red outfit that looks as if it was just painted. Her hat has a flippy thing, a tassel that swivels around her bowl-cut hair do. Her teeth are long and smoky and sharp. Jason from Friday the 13th, only Asian and female.
I give her everything she wants for whatever price she'll pay. "Here," I say, stacking a barbeque atop her load, "Take this too. Gift with purchase."
At dusk a car full of gangbangers pulls up. I dare them to shoot me. I beg them to do it. "Shoot me, motherfuckers!" They laugh. They don't even bother getting out of the car which is exhaling and inhaling, breathing and hiccupping bass notes so low they're under the buckled pavement. Then I scream, "People are replaceable!" and they drive off terrified, no different than if a police siren had sounded.
My brother was there one day and not the next. Who decides these things? I suppose you'd say God or fate or no one, but that's not a satisfactory answer.
I saw him kiss a girl once back by the tether ball pole. She had kinky blonde hair and her hands looked like they were holding batons as she reached up and gave her lips away. Afterward, he whispered something in her ear and she ran off.
I never asked him and I wished I had. Of course I wish that now.
The winds came later, clever and full-throated. Detritus, twigs and wilted flowers, insect husks and lies: I watched all of it swirl. I opened my mouth and swallowed the gritty air. I laid down on the ground and let it roll over me.