When I reached the house, Enid was indeed cooking breakfast. The heavy, rich smell of bacon hit me as I hurried inside from the rain.
“Dahlia! You’re soaked! Oh come in and please eat, dear.” She bustled me into the kitchen.
There he sat. I saw him from the back first, but it was unmistakably Ignatio Ormonza at Enid’s table. His hair had gone white, his shoulders stooped, and the tendons at the back of his neck formed a prominent ‘11’.
“Uncle Ig?” He did not turn.
“Ignatio!” Enid jostled his shoulder. “Hey, Ignatio. Dahlia is here to see you. Isn’t that exciting?”
I sat to his right. “Hello, Uncle Ig.” Contempt washed over me and I shot Enid a venomous look. She shrugged. But the longer I looked at him, the more damage I could see. Time, a soft life, alcohol, meanness had aged him badly. He was feeble and maybe not all there. Certainly not the monster he had been. His rheumy eyes found my face and he struggled to connect. I felt an odd wave of pity rise up in me.
Then a sharp glint passed across his face and he allowed a tiny, cruel smile to show.
“Oh. You. Li’l girl creep.” He almost giggled, but it came out as a dry cough.
He almost had me fooled.
I wasn’t there to see him. This was the last human being I wanted to see. I had imagined him gone or dead. At least, I had imagined that Enid had moved on. She had never spoken of him while I was gone. She barely spoke to me. But there he was a foot away, trying to grip a spoon with his long, creepy fingers.
Enid sat a large plate of bacon in front of us. Ig reached for it slowly, but I shot in a scooped up six slices. I was a guest now. This had not been my home for a long time. I was bigger. Ig was weaker. I no longer feared him. He would have to deal with that.
“I didn’t eat last night. I’m just really hungry.” And my new neighbor was too. And that freeloading skin bag Ig had eaten quite enough of my father’s bacon.
“Well…” Enid dropped her hands on Ig’s shoulders. He moved faster now, shoveling in bacon, oatmeal, and eggs. Runny eggs that stuck to his mustache and landed on his sweater.
I nibbled bacon slowly, smiling at him. “It’s good to be back, Uncle Ig. I really missed you.”
When Enid went for a coffee refill, I grabbed the rest of the food on the table. In grabbed the last piece of bacon from Ig’s plate. He raised his hand as if he would strike me, but I ducked out of the way.
I took a napkin and wiped his face brusquely. His eyes grew wide.
“It really is good to see you again, Uncle.” I winked.
That’s right, old wolf. Time caught you and Enid kept you. But you won’t be putting me back in the basement any time soon. Maybe Ig would enjoy a little basement time himself.
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