Authentic Smorgasbord Dinner


After the swim, Harold said he'd take us to the Sveden Haus for an authentic smorgasbord dinner.  Our clothes stuck to our skin.  He drove a converted school bus all around town.  We hung our heads out the windows, like dogs.  The inside of the Sveden Haus was dark and cold.  Harold ordered a beer.  He had a lot of beers.  He said, "I'm sorry, kids.  Harold has lost his balance."  He had oversized lips and fingers.  There was lint in the creases of his hands.  His shoes were big black boxes at the end of his legs.  He never took them off, even at the pool.  We piled our plates with sweet pickles and fruit cocktail and meatballs and the little buns.  We watched him wipe foam from his mouth.  I smelled the chlorine on my arm and shivered.  He said, "We'll do this another time" and I said, "But we are doing it, Harold."  He didn't eat at all.  He made drawings of us on the napkins, the pencil buried in his paw.  Me with my two missing teeth, my brother in profile, frowning.  He talked about the war, ticking off his accomplishments.  My brother said, "I can't believe they let you in."  He talked to Harold the way he talked to me.  Harold said, "I was okay then.  I was perfect!"  The waitress gave us cookies, told Harold he had nice grandchildren and Harold said thanks and winked at us.  He told us, "Time to go kids, I want to get back to Jinx."  The cat with the missing ear that slept on Harold's pillow.  "We'll do this another time, kids," Harold said.  He drove us across town in his bus.  We hit a bump and flew from our seats.  My brother threw up.  From the rearview, Harold looked at us like we were something brand new.  
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