by Justin D. Anderson

…..…a man at the hardware store was confident the flapper valve was the problem – the reason a mother interrupted dinner, sleep, anything peaceful to say fiercely that the “goddamned toilet is always running!” So on a Saturday afternoon, a father – tools, wet towels and toilet parts scattered on the pinkish linoleum, the tank drained, black slime on his fingers – worked to replace the valve while a son destroyed his bedroom and a mother worked the phone in the living room. A father tried to assure himself that he’d been observant enough about how the parts came out to know how they would go back in. However, things only grew more mysterious as he looked at the mingled parts, old and new. One thing was clear: the new valve was too small. A father had been drinking beer all day, so he wouldn’t drive out to get another one. Some improvisation would be in order. But what kind? He heard a mother making money, cooing lines into the phone like, “You want to touch me, baby?” or making sounds like she’d just tasted something good. He could hear a son throwing books and toys around and singing in a little voice about a boy disappearing in the woods. A father had never heard this song and suspected a son made it up as he went along. A father sat Lotus on the wet floor gripping the beer can and wondering how he came to be a man who didn’t know how to fix a toilet…

Justin D. Anderson is an MFA candidate in fiction and writing teacher at West Virginia University in Morgantown, where he lives with his wife and son. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Whitefish Review, South Dakota Review, Necessary Fiction, Flyway, the Anthology of Appalachian Writers (Bobbie Ann Mason, ed.), and elsewhere, and was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize.


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