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A very rewarding, powerful story for this holiday weekend.


Charles got us another beer from the refrigerator. The light fixture over the table was one of those kind that hangs from a retractable cable. He pulled it low and threw most of the kitchen in darkness. When he sat down the light was harsh on his hands, showing up the ridged tendons and blue veins, the thin fingers and heavy knuckles. He tilted his chair back and rested his head against the flowered wallpaper so his face was a pale oval catching reflected light from the yellow plastic tabletop. Under the bright circle of light were a dozen empty beer cans, two overflowing ashtrays, an empty peanut can and the pictures. There were fifty one years of accumulated photographs; black and white and colored images in a jumbled array that I tried to string together into a chronological chain of uneven, baroque pearls to link the laughing infant to the lean and wind burned ironworker across the table.


Charles had buried two wives and divorced another one. He raised two sons and sent them out into the world, as he put it,

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