David Erlewine

No More Carl
I went into the playroom to start another recorded show for my son, Eric. I glanced out the window, eyeing the neighbor’s pool. A boy was floating face down. The boy appeared to be Carl. It would be easy, and somewhat cathartic, to mention reasons I didn't like Carl but that would be poor form, in light of everything.

Okay, I'll do one: last year, in kindergarten, he called Eric stupid for not knowing how to spell his name. It's something I'll undoubtedly stew on for a long time, whether or not Carl had already been floating too long by the time I saw him.

I left a card in his parents' mailbox yesterday. They went to her mother's after the funeral but might appreciate it when they return.

Fine, one more: Carl liked to take Eric's toys and hold them out of Eric's grasp. Every time Eric wanted to go outside and play, I had to stand around the front yard, telling Eric to stop whining and asking Carl to give things back. Carl's dad and mom almost never came out.

I've been in a bit of a funk the past few weeks. I keep thinking about the light feeling in my stomach when the ambulance showed up and Carl's mom yelled at the guys to keep blowing into Carl's mouth. I keep thinking that Carl's parents, now childless, will divorce and put the house up for sale. In this market, the sign could dangle out front for years.
Eric keeps asking why his friend died. When Eric is older, maybe I will quietly tell him the truth, away from my wife. I might say that he should know Carl wasn't a true friend and never would have been.

Stories by David Erlewine appear or are forthcoming in Necessary Fiction (So New), Ghoti, Word Riot, Pank, and a number of other places.

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