WHEN I GET TO THE HOME, a nurse has to help my grandpa to his wheeler, lifting him with a device like one I remember from the farm where I grew up, the vet lifting a cow who died in labor.
I have to tell him who I am. He talks about his girlfriend, says he cried when he had to leave her at the last facility, where his hip broke.
He says, I knew what she wanted.
He says, I was playing hard to get then.
He says, This place is a whorehouse.
He says, I was married.
He points to the next bed.
He says, That guy is having sex now.
He used to tell me jokes, offer me beer. We’d toast. He held me as a baby, watched me grow into a toddler. He took me fishing as a teen, lecturing me about boys, the proper way to chase them, and the proper way to leave if they needed leaving.
When I broke my arm, he splinted me.
He taught me to hit things that needed hitting.
He let me go into adulthood. He made me a member of the American Legion.
I say, Grandpa, Grandpa. Grandpa!
He gives me a salute.
Kim Chinquee has published fiction and nonfiction in The Nation, Ploughshares, NOON, StoryQuarterly, Denver Quarterly, Fiction, Story, Notre Dame Review, Conjunctions, and elsewhere. She is chief editor of Elm Leaves Journal and codirector of SUNY–Buffalo State’s writing major.