“There is no way you thought of that all by yourself,” Merton snickered. His little sister Karyn burst into tears.
“Mertle, why you do that?” said older brother Scott as he threw a stuffed elephant across the room, knocking Merton off his feet. He landed flat on his ass on the floor.
“Fuck you,” Merton said, scrambling to his feet as fast as he could so it looked like it didn’t bother him. He always acted like nothing ever bothered him. This was so important to his self-image that sometimes his best friend Mo liked to say that his tombstone ought to say, “Here lies Merton Hammond. He still doesn’t give a shit.”
“You’re a loser,” he said to his brother, who ignored him. Karyn was still crying when their father came into the room.
“What’s going on here?” he wanted to know, picking up Karyn and juggling her about in his arms until she settled down and eventually smiled. This worked every time but probably had a short shelf life now that she was almost six. In another couple of years she’d likely be either a pain in the ass like her brother Merton, or utterly chill and unflappable like her other older brother. Mr. Hammond wasn’t sure which he would prefer – another child demanding attention, or another child demanding none. A father’s days of fathering are not as long as he once imagined they would be.