Here we are, been sitting in the middle of the bridge for an hour. It’s “bonding” day. An idea that occurs to Dad about every six months. He thinks I care. Yesterday, he got back from two weeks in Shanghai. Before that he was in Dubai for a month. Hot shot architect. Make hay while the sun shines, son. Today, we’re going horseback riding in Bodega.

Morning started off bad. At breakfast, he teed off again on my girl friend, taking me away from swim team practice. Without Mom there, we’d have probably punched one another. Now everything’s cool; I’m listening to my IPod, Jay-Z. But he starts in on my grades. They’re okay. Not great. Probably not Wesleyan, but definitely UC Santa Cruz. He can’t shut up. Wants details.

“What about biology? Why only a B? You can’t cut up a frog?”

I ignore him. I look up at the sky, at the chicks walking across the bridge. Then Dad hits me, hard. Same place my arm was broken a year ago. I holler.

“What do you expect, you don’t pay attention?” he says.

“You trying to break it again? Son of a bitch.” I say.

“What do you mean, again? You got that screwing around at Squaw.”

That’s it, I’m history, I’m out of there, nothing’s ever right, him only thinking about how much I’m costing him. Open the door, up on the hood, jump to the walkway, then up on the rail.

Pretty down there, water’s really blue today. Turn around. Flip Dad the bird. He’s out of the car. Running, yelling. About 20 feet away. I swing my leg out. Perfect. He stops, mouth open, no sound. Good, he’s scared. A first. Can’t cut up a frog. Can’t cut up a frog.

Make him pull me off.

Townsend Walker lives in San Francisco. During a career in finance he published three books: on foreign exchange, on derivatives, and the last one on portfolio management. Four years ago he went to Rome and started writing fiction inspired by cemeteries, foreign lands, paintings, murders and strong women. His stories have been published in two dozen literary journals, on-line and print.

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Every Day Fiction