Father? (That’s not true. That’s impossible. Etc.)


On the way back to the train station I met
a man of diminutive stature claiming

to be the notorious Captain Kidd. “Yeah
right,” I said. “Because that’s a common thing. A

Russian pirate? What are you, crazy?” The man
frowned and his sour mug became sourer.

“You’re a continuing source of frustration
for me,” he said, ripping his face off. “Kaaahn!” I

screamed. “You son of a bitch! I should have known it
was you.” “En garde!” he yelled, picking up a piece

of pure rubber from the abandoned tire
factory in the middle of town. “No one

can save you now!” he shouted. “This will hurt so
bad. You’ll have a hell of a welt tomorrow.”

“Why Kublai,” I said. “You’ve mellowed quite a bit
since we last met.” The warrior hung his head.

“I apologize for that,” he mumbled. “You
did nothing wrong. I just saw you and I was

having a bad day and there you were on that
horse and I thought, ‘Fuck this guy. I’m killing him.’

It wasn’t personal, you know? I’m sorry.”
He stuck out his hand and I looked at it. “What

happens if I shake?” I asked. “Because I’m not
sure who or what you are or where I am. As

far as I’m concerned, you’re The Devil himself.”
In the distance a hound bayed. The man just grinned

and narrowed his eyes a bit. “Where you headed?”
he asked, putting his hand in his pocket. “No

place special,” I told him. “I’m just along for
the ride.” He nodded. The hound howled once more. “Did

you buy a ticket?” he inquired. I shook
my head. “Don’t need one,” I said. “I know a guy,

kinda looks like this singer from Arkansas
who sang a song Shel Silverstein wrote about

a boy and his unfortunate name. My dad
used to make me listen to it when he’d take

me on road trips over the river and through
the woods to grandmother’s house. We’d go eighty

miles an hour in his red Road Runner,
roaring around turns with the music blaring…”

I paused, thinking of the gaffer and his wrecked
Triumph motorcycle laying in the road,

him sprawled out underneath a semi, nearly
dead, but not quite. “My pop was lunatic fringe.

I don’t remember too much else about him.
He died a year later when the truck he was

driving burst into flames with him trapped inside.
Apparently he flipped it, after missing

a turn, but then I think about watching him
handle his car and I just go, ‘No way. My

old man was a great driver.’” I pause and rub
my arms, because goosebumps are forming. Kahn says

nothing, and I became aware that the air
around us was devoid of any sound. No

birds, no dogs, no train whistles. Just me and a
Mongol warlord who grinned like he might be my…


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