Family Photo


Let Barry sit out there, on the concrete we call the terrace. Let him hold the firecrackers in his hands, flicking at the lighter. He’s been like that all day. He’s been like that, in fact, for years. You know why he gets like this? You were late. Don’t argue. You didn’t show up for the family photo. You might as well have slit your wrists after that. Do you know how hard it is to organize a family photo? Do you know how many photographers Barry had to call? You should have seen his face after that. He was joking about ways he could dispose of your body. He’s a road paver, you know. He could find a nice place for you underneath most major highways. Don’t go out there now. Don’t try to make amends. The truth is, you’re not leaving tonight until he tells us what to do. Even your girlfriend, who made it to the family photo, she knows how serious this is. That’s why she’s keeping her distance. That’s why you’re holding a plate of crab legs and no one wants to talk to you. Do you have any idea what kind of people don’t show up for family photos? It’s bad enough you still haven’t married her. And you had the nerve to sleep while your girlfriend showed up in her mismatched blue outfit, not as tan as the rest of them. And they stood on that bluff, and Barry, even in the best shot, he’s wondering where the fuck you are. You ruined the family photo, and let us ask you this: How often does the opportunity arise? How often do we get together in such otherwise beautiful places? At a time when most of us have lovely children and are past our ugliest marriages. He should do things to you, Barry. He should make you understand this, as only he can. But leave him alone now. Stop wondering when it’s going to begin. When you’ll be summoned from this quiet living room, where even your girlfriend watches you like the tourist you are. The missing stranger.  

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