September Flash Fiction: Half-steps by Michelle Fidalgo

 Half-steps
Michelle Fidalgo
I drove two hundred miles to go to Junior’s funeral.  His suicide had made the big-city papers. His father, Charles Senior my former stepfather  had turned him in to the feds for treating their pharmacy chain like a candy store. 
Senior monitored the reporters through a parted curtain. My mom’s empty eyes stared at the casket. I spit on my fingers and smudged the rouge on Junior’s cold cheek. 
Steps don’t count. 
Johnny Carson’s audience laughed as Junior crept across the hall at 12:30 A.M. every Friday night. He drowned himself in Senior’s Black Suede cologne and wore his daddy’s saggy briefs. Creature of habit that he was, Junior always reminded me we weren’t blood relatives.
Steps don’t count. 
Whispers ricocheted within circles of dry-eyed mourners. The one-page guest book and the cloying scent of dead lilies in the parlor next door sickened me. Suzanne, Senior’s daughter from a momentary marriage, shoved a Post-it note against Junior’s pillow and strode out. 
I fished the paper out of his casket unseen, read it, then slipped it back where she’d stuck it.
 
Now only this half counts.     
I rushed outside. Her headlights pierced the dark. Her engine growled awake.     
She drove away. I didn’t stop her.
Michelle Fidalgo/Embe Charpentier has been most recently published in “Science Fiction Romance Quarterly” and in “Litro NY.” She has made her award-winning Nanowrimo novel “Vouchsafe” available on Jukepop.com. Writing feature articles for her local newspaper and supporting teen writers in her community provide a sense of the Southern to this author’s portfolio.