Rusty Dolleman


            My father was sick, and my coming home that summer was supposed to make it better for him. Or for me, or for my stepmother, I can’t remember who. But it was the off-season in the ski town where I was living out West anyway, and so there I was, back in New Jersey, mowing the lawn and unclogging the drains and, on the days when the care worker didn’t come, helping Brenda usher my father down the hall to the tiny upstairs bathroom. When we got there, he’d be shaking and breathing hard from the effort, Brenda squeezing herself onto the edge of the tub so she could unbutton his pants. Always, I would ask if I should stay, and always she would decline. “Nope,” she’d say, grinning like she knew I’d rather not be there for what came next. “I think we’ve got it all under control in here.” In a basic sense, she was right; I had no des