Dead Man’s Switch

Thomas Kleaton

Lightning illuminated their mother sprawled on the kitchen tile, several of her teeth islands in a sea of blood. Paul lie passed out in his recliner, a case of empties scattered across the coffee table.

Brian, nine, balanced the metal frame of the lampshade on their stepfather’s forehead. Bare copper wrapped the lamp harp. He clipped it around Paul’s ankle.

Seven-year-old Tim gasped. “Wait! We don’t have a wet sponge!”

Brian poured stale beer over Paul’s hair. Multiple soggy cigarette butts followed.

Tim flipped the light switch, and they sat down to see if the power would come back on.

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