Dead Beat Dad
by Marcus Goodyear


Boy rear’d in atmosphere of considerable mystery. Believes father dead. Suddenly is told that father is about to return. Strange preparations—consequences.

“Tell me a story,” I asked so she would not turn on my music and leave me alone in the dark.

So she told me the first story about Dad. He was a war hero, she said. He had gone into special operations just before the second Iraqi war. The military sent back checks for combat pay, but they didn’t send him back. In this story, she cried on the front porch when the two officers told her the news.

I don’t know why she told me this, but I slept good that night, thinking about my dad the hero. Even a dead hero is better than no hero at all.

The next morning after we picked up Jason on the way to school, I told him all about my dad the war hero.

“War hero?” Mom said, rolling down the window and lighting a cigarette. “Where’d you get that idea?”

“But—” I started.

“Your dad died in a car wreck, baby. Plain and simple.”

Jason looked at the backpack in his lap, embarrassed by my ignorance about something so important.

But she didn’t stop there. “He was a drunk, you know?”

Jason fiddled with the straps.

“He hit another car head on, killed the entire family, mom, dad, a ten-year-old girl, and an eight-year-old boy.”

About the Author

Marcus Goodyear is a writer, editor, and poet. He lives in the Texas hill country with his wife, two kids, and two dogs.