Brief Portrait of the Dead’s Man Father | Tristan Foster

Always smoking a cigarette and so always outside. Comes in to go back out again. Leaning or sitting against a wall as shelter from the sun or the rain. Always watching; the Dead Man never knowing how his father knew what he knew, never sure if he was up there watching from a balcony or leaning out of a window. Predictable in his unpredictability. Quietly angry. Knows two Elvis songs word for word. How or why or when he will sing them is a mystery. When he was a boy, he had a vision of living in a different time, before complex machines, before electricity, and of being a sailor, spending his time, especially those years of his youth, on the ever-lilting boards of a great ship, a vision that returns to him again and again. Old watch on his wrist loose like a woman’s bracelet, jingling as it slips up and down his wrist, as he eats, as he works. Wife cuts his hair in the kitchen on the first Sunday of every month. Threadbare towel over his shoulders to catch the hair. Proposed marriage all those years ago with a tin ring he plucked from a clay bowl of tin rings at the market. Cost a few dollars only. You hear these stories and eventually the ring is replaced. He never replaced it, still on her finger, soft and pliable. Mocked the gods when young. This is what he tells friends. Now it’s payback time.

Tristan Foster is a writer from Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Letter to the Author of the Letter to the Father and 926 Years, co-authored with Kyle Coma-Thompson.


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