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Dennis and Dad © 2012 by Giselle Renarde

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This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Cover design © 2018 Giselle Renarde

First Edition 2012, Untreed Reads

Second Edition 2018, Giselle Renarde

Dennis and Dad appears in the anthology Ugly Naked People.

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Dennis and Dad

A Gay Father’s Day Short

By Giselle Renarde

It was uncanny, Chris thought, how much noisier three kids were than two.

If it had been just their own son and daughter in the back seat, Andy would be playing some mind-numbing video game and Becky would be asleep against the window. It was the addition of this extraneous third party into the mix that shook things up.

Tasha. Becky’s best friend.

The girls were inseparable, which drove Chris nuts because Tasha was also insufferable—loud, obnoxious, always asking questions he didn’t necessarily want to answer. Precocious.

Kim didn’t seem to mind the girl, though she was probably just happy their daughter finally had a female friend. Becky had been a hardcore tomboy from birth, and his wife never was keen on her rough manners and behaviour. Kim would always look at him askance, as if their daughter’s nonconformity was part of that queer strain she got from his side of the family.

“Dad,” Becky called from the middle seat. “Why are your birthday and Father’s Day on the same day this year, but they weren’t the same day last year?”

Chris felt strangely elated by this invitation to join in the kids’ conversation, like he was finally one of those “cool” dads he’d always envisioned himself being.

“Well,” he said, “Father’s Day is always the third Sunday in June, but my birthday is always June nineteenth. This year, June nineteenth happens to be that Sunday, but it isn’t always. See what I mean?”

There was a prolonged silence from the back seat, until Tasha finally spoke up to say, “That’s stupid.”

“Yeah, that’s stupid,” Becky chimed in.

“Rebecca!” her mother scolded. “Apologize, young lady.”

“Sorry, Dad.”

“Yeah, sorry Dad,” Andy said, even though he hadn’t been part of the conversation.

“Yeah,” Tasha echoed, louder than the others. “Sorry, Dad.”

Chris cringed and then chastised himself. Would he dislike the kid this much if she were white? God, he wanted to punch himself in the gut for thinking that way—it wasn’t him, he wasn’t racist. Really, he wasn’t. But apparently he wasn’t the cool dad, either.

And his birthday was stupid.

It had never been such a relief to pull into his father’s driveway. The weather was gorgeous and the yard was huge—the kids could amuse themselves outside for a while and give the adults some reprieve.

The children kicked a soccer ball around the front grass while the parents crowded into the front hall, greeted by the usual round of bear hugs from Dennis. Dad hung back by the stairs, adjusting his feet in those ratty old slippers.

“The big three-eight!” Dennis exclaimed, ruffling Chris’ thinning hair with both hands. “How does it feel?”

“A lot like the big three-seven,” Chris said with a chuckle. He loved all the attention Dennis poured onto him. He was still a kid in need of care. Even his mother didn’t shower him with this much affection. “Mom!”

She was just stepping out of the powder room, wearing a mint green yoga outfit and looking even younger than the last time he’d seen her. She’d been out of the country on Mother’s Day, so it must have been Easter. Really? That long?

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