By P.T. Dilloway
Like most events in my life, this story begins in a bar. Squiggy’s is my favorite watering hole, the kind of place where a man can get a drink without too much conversation. I motion to Big Al the bartender. “Fill ‘er up?”
After seven shots of bourbon a nosier bartender might ask if I’ve had enough. Not Big Al. He knows the drill well enough after twelve years. He just waddles over and splashes more booze in my glass. Then he returns to his stool to watch a women’s soccer game from England, the only game on at four in the afternoon.
I watch the screen for a few minutes, but I don’t see the game. Instead I see Maddy at eight years old; she runs around the backyard with our golden retriever Max in pursuit of the soccer ball. “Daddy, watch!” she squealed before she kicked the ball into the refrigerator box she used as a goal.
I down another shot of bourbon. It doesn’t erase the memory from my brain like I hope it would. “Could you put something else on?” I say. “I hate this fucking game.”
My memory of Maddy turns to one of her face red, tears in her eyes. “How could you do that?” Debbie shouted. She poked me in the chest. “Do you have any idea how much she was looking forward to you being there?”