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Dot Dot Dot

by Nathan Moseley

In a photograph on the wall—the only one the manor keeps—there is a young man who once clopped up and down the staircase and unleashed shrieks that his father could not ignore because they reminded him too much of…The father, being the official town businessman, always had official town business to attend to, business that involved briefcases and quills and certified seals and official documents, the likes of which the young man had never really understood or particularly cared to, and the young man, who was no longer all that young, would grow furious and clop even louder, and the father would finally yell at him to stop, and if the boy didn’t stop, well, then the father had ways of making him stop, ways the father did not relish, but nonetheless, felt obliged to employ, especially when people were behind on their payments or begging lenience on their payments or getting angry about their houses being demolished because they couldn’t pay their payments or trying his patience or spending the last of their money down at the tracks where the dogs ran until their legs had worn down to nothing more than...

Sometimes, he beat the young man with a wooden gavel he’d received from the official town judge, bloodied him up nice and good, and told the young man that this was justice, and it was justice, as far as the father was concerned, because someone had to teach the young man to listen, and without anyone else around, it had to be the father, beating and teaching and beating and teaching and, yes, justice. The young man, however, had other ideas of justice, so one day he clopped down the staircase and opened the door and closed the door and stared at the door and hated the door and ran away from the manor, into town, where he got a job at the cannery with orphans and émigrés and learned how to curse in Portuguese and gut a fish and use ammonia and suck the salt from a lime and suck up to his bosses whenever his bosses were paying attention and curse them in Portuguese whenever their backs were turned.

The young man, who was getting older by the hour, became quite popular with the men at the cannery and the women at the tavern and bought both groups drink after drink, and he drank quite a bit himself, which was how he gained his nickname, the one everyone knew him by, which was…, a nickname the young man acquired because, no matter how much he said or how much he drank, he always had more to say and wanted more to drink. And for a time, he thought more was always waiting. So he signed his checks as…, took out credit as…, and he kept talking and drinking and cursing in Portuguese and spending all his money and using all his credit until he had no more money and no more credit, and, of course, then the trouble came, which surprised exactly no one, especially not…because…had never expected to live without trouble, not after he ran away, and really, not before it either, and despite the fact that…was widely liked, he was not widely loved, and worse, he didn’t know when, if ever, to shut up, which was not a good thing to have overlooked. Not when you’re father was the official town businessman.