Grandpa Dave

02/29/24

Grandpa Dave had sleeves of tattoos and a full back piece, but not that artistic black and grey or colorful Japanese shit. You couldn’t get that kind of work in prison. His ink was light blue, with thin lines and minimal shading. Two angels kissing. A bear. Script that had become unreadable.

Dave was a bad husband, absent parent, and an awful grandpa. He’d heard people ramble on about the joys of parenthood, but he didn’t get it. On those occasions, he’d left the room for fear he would say something he’d regret.

What was there to like?

Even his grandkids turned him off. Spoiled brats, the lot of them.

So, when he spied his ten-year-old granddaughter, Avery, across the lawn, the only one he’d never met, his expectations were low. She was dressed like a pop star in tights and a halter top, her midriff exposed, her high heels so high Dave worried she might collapse.  

Avery met his gaze, held it, and flicked her chin toward the punch table.

Is she motioning to me?

Dave thought she was, but why?

Me? he mouthed.

She nodded, yes.

Intrigued, Dave found himself walking to the table and filling a red cup. Avery stopped to talk with a group of kids playing hacky sack, then moseyed over to the aunties for a chat, making Dave stand there and wait. When she finally strolled over to the table, he’d been standing there for five minutes.

“I heard you do crimes,” she said, crossing her arms.

“Huh?” Dave blurted.

“Are you hard of hearing? I. Heard. You. Do. Crimes.”

Dave felt like he’d been catapulted across the yard like one of those Jackass idiots. Confused, he was a bit slow to respond.

“You awake, old man?” Avery said.

Her eyes were oil, as black as a con’s on the yard.

“I’m awake,” Dave said.

“Good, I was worried you’d nodded off. My name’s Avery.”

 “I know who you are. What do you want?”

She stepped toward him. “See that phone?”

Dave looked over her shoulder.

“On the chair. Red case,” she said.

“Yeah.”

“I need you to create a diversion, so I can steal it.”

“Steal it?”

“Jesus, I can’t tell if you’re deaf, dumb, or just plain fucked in the head.”

Dave lit a cigarette, contemplating the feeling that grew from his stomach and rose through his chest, getting caught in his throat.

What was it? He didn’t know.

“You shouldn’t swear,” he said, surprising himself.

Avery unfolded her arms. “Why not?”

“You’re too young. You shouldn’t steal neither.”

“You did.”

Shit, she has me there.

“I probably started around your age,” he said, blowing smoke, “but I didn’t steal phones. I robbed banks.”

“And look at you now,” she said sarcastically.

What’s with this kid?

“I guess I want you to be better than me,” Dave said, taking a drag, watching her face contort ever so slightly.

“I’ve made up my mind,” she said.

Dave knew people did what they wanted, and no amount of pleading, speech-making, or blackmail could change that.

“Here’s what you’re going to do,” he said. “I’ll occupy the aunties. You walk smooth and fast, but not too fast. And don’t hesitate. Where will you store it?”

Avery revealed a fanny pack that she wore backwards. She spun it so it faced the front.

“That works,” he said. “Don’t leave it there long, though. Hide it somewhere.”

Avery nodded.

“You ready?” Dave said.

“Born ready.”

Dave approached the aunties, tossed his arms around two of them, and inserted himself into the conversation. Avery followed him, turned to the chair, and extended an arm. She plucked the phone, dropped it in the fanny pack, and strolled past the aunties. Dave caught her eye and winked.

Ten minutes later they were back at the table, smiling, and drinking punch, when that funny feeling returned. Only this time he realized it for what it was: the desire to share what he knew.

His skills.

His wisdom.

And he had to admit, the girl had potential.

Avery said, “What you thinking about?”

Dave didn’t answer, wrapped her up in a massive hug, and squeezed with all his might.

~ fin ~

joelnedecky

Joel Nedecky is a Canadian writer from Winnipeg. His short stories have appeared with Punk NoirGuilty Crime Story Magazine, Urban Pigs Press, and Hoosier Noir. His novel, The Broken Detective, will be released in 2025. For more, check out jnedecky.com.