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The Staple Gun
A young boy named Curtis rides along with his father Dane to try and discover what his father does for a living.
[1,127 words]
John Hardoby
[December 2005]
[email protected]
Montana (Short Stories) Radford Finch, a WWII vet, finds a lost dog in his backyard, which leads to a new friendship [2,148 words]
River Avenue (Short Stories) It's 1938, two teenage boys lives cross paths after attending a boxing match [4,853 words]
Why Is The Sky Blue? (Short Stories) This is a Christmas story about a man named Lovie and what happens when his two kids and ex-wife come to visit for the holidays [5,461 words]
The Staple Gun
John Hardoby

Curtis never liked the smell of his father’s car. The combination of smooth leather with stale Dominican cigars didn’t sit well with his ten-year old stomach, and when wet snow tracked it’s way into the long Cadillac, like tonight, the unpleasant smell intensified. Large snowflakes dropped with no pattern or stability, the winter clouds weren’t exactly on the same page. Curtis sat patiently in the passenger seat, his Nike’s dangling inches above the damp floor mat. He was waiting for his father, who left the car and entered a small warehouse minutes before. The worn warehouse had a leaky roof that appeared almost concave. The umbrella-shaped moon stood still, peaking around the clouds from time to time. Curtis’s father usually rode alone, never asking his son to tag along, so tonight was especially exciting for the young Curtis, which was apparent by the way he swung his skinny legs and sat anxiously on his sweaty palms.
Dane Staples would leave the house around ten PM at least five times a week. It was routine. His wife Emma would construct blankets and rugs while Dane stepped out for an hour or so, usually returning before midnight. She knew the routine and seemed to encourage it. His son Curtis would crouch in front of the television, soaking in the Cartoon Network, peaking over his shoulder every time his father tossed on his wool coat and kissed his wife on the lips before heading out. If Curtis weren’t watching from the den, he would stand on the landing of the staircase in his multi-sport pajamas to observe his parents nightly custom.
At dinner one night Curtis asked his father why he left every night at ten. Dane replied, “Because I have to.” Curtis, unsatisfied with his father’s answer, then asked where he went every night at ten.
“I go to work Curtis. Now finish you green beans.”
Curtis stuffed the last three green strings in to his mouth. He never asked his dad those two questions again.

Dane’s friend Bob would stop by the house a lot. Curtis called him Uncle Bob because the first time he did, Bob gave him five bucks. “Your Uncle Bob has to look out for you kid,” he said. Curtis cupped the single bill with two hands then ran up stairs to stash it away.
Last week Bob came over at his usual time, around four in the afternoon. Dane was busy with a telephone conversation so Bob entered the den, looking out for his informal nephew.
“Hi Uncle Bob.” Curtis spoke with power, hoping for five more dollars to add to his collection. But Bob didn’t reach into his pocket.
“Hey kid.”
“Are you waiting for dad?”
“Yeah, we have a big night ahead.”
Uncle Bob always said that. It was routine, like Dane and Emma’s ten PM ritual.
“Hey kid, come here.”
Curtis stood and slowly dragged his feet towards Uncle Bob, his pants too long for his body. Uncle Bob hunkered down into a typical catchers squat. He placed a fist into a palm like he was packing his dirty mitt.
“Do you know why they call your dad the staple gun?”
Curtis has asked himself that question many times before. Finally, he could gain the answer.
“No, why?”
“Hey Bob, he’s a kid, don’t put rumors in his head.”
Curtis turned to see his father standing directly behind him, Dane’s shadow draped across Curtis’s awkward body.
“Come on, I told Sally we’d meet him.”
The two men smiled at Curtis then calmly left the house. Emma worked on a green and blue-checker board blanket. Curtis returned to his afternoon TV lineup.

As Curtis sat in the now freezing car he thought about Dane the Staple Gun. He never saw him do any work involving a staple gun. Could his father be a carpenter? Curtis didn’t receive the truth last week but was sure it would come up again. All he knew was his father left the car fifteen minutes ago and the Cadillac wasn’t getting any warmer.
To take his mind off his chattering teeth, Curtis observed his surroundings. The brown haired lad was always a very observant boy. The clouds finally started to work together, their snow fell at a steadier pace. The lengthy road was black and white, dusty snowflakes covered charcoal pavement, a pleasant scene missing only James Stewart. White light beamed from street lamps, every fifty feet an extraterrestrial waited to snatch oblivious humans that enter their ray. Curtis wondered if his dad would walk around the spotlights when returning to the car. The wind was aggressive. Swirling sounds made Curtis believe the powerful breezes were leaking inside. Then a small light appeared from the warehouse as its metal door swung open. Dane stormed outside. He lifted his pea coat’s collar to protect his blood rushed ears from the early blizzard. The snow stuck to the ground so Dane’s legs resembled a plunger with every step. And before Curtis knew it, his father was inside the smelly car, sitting directly across the median.
“Curt, you must be freezing, let’s warm this thing up.”
Dane ignited the engine then flicked the heat to full blast.
“I’ll be right back.”
Dane left the car again, but this time walked only a few feet away. He headed directly for the lamppost just steps in front of the rumbling car. Curtis crouched over gazing into the dark sky, anticipating an alien spaceship would swoop down any second. Dane looked up into the light as well, allowing flakes to brush his sharp face. The spaceship never came. Curtis played with the vents, mixing heat waves to his preference as his eyes followed his father’s motions. Dane pulled out a manila envelope and thumbed through its contents. He pulled a stack of paper cash from the sachet. Dane licked his right thumb then began reeling off bill after bill, counting out loud each one while positioned directly underneath the bright lamplight. Curtis tried to count along but lost track around forty. He figured they were all five-dollar bills like the one’s Uncle Bob would give him. A minute later Dane was back in the car, his envelope tucked away inside his coat.
Curtis’s palms lost their sweat. He decided to finger his name into a foggy passenger window. The ten year old was excited. He was with his dad and it was way past his bedtime. He discovered where his father’s carpentry shop was, a flaccid warehouse on the other side of town. Curtis smiled at his impassive father; watching Dane the Staple Gun leisurely drive down slippery roads, hoping his dad would give him five dollars when they got home.


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© 2005 John Hardoby
December 2005

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