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Title: The Out-Laws
Author: jsblume
Style/Genre Prose / Fiction / Literary Fiction
Description: Relationships can be complicated

David dragged his foot in the sand and brought the slowing merry-go-round to a stop. He was covered head-to-toe in dirt and his jeans had a rip in the knee stained from a recent cut. His tangled black hair hung down into his eyes. David brushed it aside with the palm of his hand and looked around the playground intently.

"Dad!" he called.

"Over here!" Charlie Morgan called from a bench just outside the play area. Charlie was an older, cleaner version of his son. Thick black hair was untangled and parted on one side, and his frame, while still lanky, had filled out with age.

"Come and push me again, please!"

As he stood up, Charlie noticed a furtive motion out of the corner of his eye. Looking in that direction, he thought he saw an arm as it moved behind a large tree. He sighed inwardly and walked over to the merry-go-round.

"I've seen you get this going all by yourself."

"You can get it going faster."

"Okay. Hang on."

Charlie grabbed one of the bars and pulled hard. Hand-over-hand, he continued to grab and pull until the merry-go-round was moving at a considerable speed.

"Yay!" David laughed. Charlie smiled as he watched his son spin past.

"Ah, to be a kid again."

Charlie glanced over at the tree and noticed the knot of a ponytail sticking out from behind it. Walking back to the bench, Charlie continued across the paved footpath and circled around through the tress to come up behind whoever it was spying on him.

He stopped short when he saw who it was. The man was tanned and tall, with salt-and-pepper hair tied into a ponytail that came down to his waist.

"Frank!" Charlie called. Frank Turner jumped and turned around.

"Oh. Charlie. You scared the crap out of me. Don't you know better than to sneak up on an old man?"

"Why are you following me?"

"Oh, well, I--"

"Dad!" David called.

Charlie stepped into the open so that David could see him on the path. "Over here with your grandpa!"

"Grandpa!" David jumped off of the merry-go-round and ran over to Frank. The older man lifted the boy and hugged him tight.

"How are you doing, sport?" Frank set David down again.

"I'm good."

"Let's get some ice cream," Frank suggested.


Charlie scowled and gave Frank a dirty look. Frank smiled, took David's hand and started walking down the path to the food court.

"Is grandma here, too?"

"Yep, she is. She'll be happy to see you again."

"You still haven't answered my question," Charlie said.

"Well, son, there's something Abigail and I have been meaning to talk to you about."


"Not now. Let's get the boy his ice cream first."


Charlie followed behind while David and Frank chatted. When they arrived at the food court, David ran to a woman sitting at a table.


"David!" Abigail's face split into a wide grin and she bent to hug her grandson. She had an oval face framed by long gray hair tied into a ponytail just like her husband.

"Grandpa said I could have ice cream."

"You sure can!" She glanced at Charlie. "If it's alright with your father."

Charlie nodded. Abigail stood up and took David's hand. Frank took David's other hand and the three walked up to the concession stand. Charlie sat down at the table and watched them. The park and food court were not crowded today because it was a Tuesday, so it didn't take long for them to return to the table with their ice cream.

"Now, David," Frank said, "we need to talk to your pop for a minute. We'll be right over at that table."


As soon as the adults sat down at the table, Charlie gave the other two a hard look.

"What is going on? Why are you following me around?"

"We really don't mean anything by it, son," Frank said.

"Please don't call me 'son'. I'm not married to Lori anymore, and you're no longer my in-laws."

"Huh!" Frank said. "I guess that makes us out-laws then. I like the sound of that."

"Frank," Abigail said. "Why don't you let me do the talking?"

"Sure," Frank said, shrugging his shoulders.

"Charlie, dear." Abigail took a deep breath. "We are not happy that our daughter decided to divorce you. We think she made a terrible mistake. We like you a lot and want to be a part of your life."

"What? Really? I thought you guys hated me."

"No, son, we don't," Frank said. "You're a good man, and a good father."

"We see how much you love David," Abigail said. "And Lori is just..." Abigail's voice broke.

"Lori is just what?"

"The woman is a witch, I swear it!" Frank said. "I don't care if she is my daughter."

"David is really confused," Abigail said. "We don't want him learning to hate his father because of his mother's bitterness. We thought it would help him if we continued to treat you as part of the family."

"Wow," Charlie shook his head. "But why all the secrecy? Why follow me around? You could have just come to me."

"Heh, heh," Frank laughed. "We weren't sure if you'd be on board."

Abigail hit him in the arm. "You mean you weren't sure if he'd be on board."

"Okay, okay, I wasn't sure."

"Wow," Charlie said. "This is great! Thank you. I'd be thrilled to have you as my out-laws."

"Well, alrighty then!" Frank clapped Charlie on the shoulder. "Let's go see how David's getting along with his ice cream. You don't mind if we hang out with you guys for a while longer?"

"Not at all."

Copyright @2012 by jsblume. All rights reserved.
jsblume has granted JS Blume Publishing™ non-exclusive rights to display this work.

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