Saturday, January 29, 2005

Michigan's Gone Day

Michigan's Gone Day!

Your brother Michigan is dead. He died with you standing by his deathbed. Your name's Matinee.

"Matinee," he said. "Come closer."

You leaned in.

"Dad's alive."

You asked how he knew and Michigan turned so livid you thought he might not be as sick as the doctors said. "Because he brought me up there to where he's living. He's rich, Matinee. He's got a family."

Your father disappeared after your mother died. You were sixteen, and you were left to raise Michigan, two years younger, until he turned 18 and left you in kind. He came back a month ago to die where he grew up. One of his nurses went to high school with you and contacted you is how you found out where he was.


Michigan's face went gray again. "It's always been about him running off," he said. "He's in Middlecrest. I went there. Before I checked into the hospital."

Your father has been living 20 minutes away from you by car.

"For how long?"

A rumble of coughing. Michigan was starting to go. "The whole time," he sputtered out. The spit on his chin was black. "It just didn't occur to me to call you. I—"

"Michigan," you said. "Stop apologizing. I stayed away from you too. I knew you were in New York and I kept quiet."

He took one last clean breath. "He's got a daughter Matinee. She's older than me."

Daddy had another family. "He's got a wife up there?"

Michigan nodded and died. All that meant was he couldn't answer the several hundred questions you were waiting to ask. You declared Michigan dead back when you were 20 years old and left to live your own life finally. And now, all you can think was that your Daddy had another Mommy stashed away someplace, when you and your brother could have used one, and he kept her all to himself.

Stick around until the nurses pull his eyelids down shut, then drive up the hill to Middlecrest.

Happy Michigan's Gone Day!