Text Box: Fourth Quarter 2015 — Second Place


Mister Sad by Phil Bowie



























The girl looked at his right hand and said, “What is?”

Absently, Frank Dove said, “It’s a gun.”

“I hold?”

“No.  It’s not a toy.”

She was four feet tall.  Chunky.  Round-faced.  Half-lidded brown eyes.  A green knitted ear-flapped cap with a tasseled top and a cartoon character on it.  A bulky winter coat.  Joan had said the new neighbor couple had a Downs child.

The girl had found him here at the end of the woods path, staring into the cold brook.

He said, “You need to get on back home, kid.”

“I not kid.  I Bianca.”

“How old are you?”

She fanned all ten fingers.

“I had a boy your age.” 

“You sick?”

“No.  I’m . . . sad.”

“You hungry, Sad.”  A statement.  She grabbed two fingers of his free hand.  “I feed.”

“Not hungry.  You go on now.”

“No.  You sit.  I feed.  Den go.”  She tugged him to a rock and he sat.  “You put gun away.  I not hab at table.  Put away.  Ri now.  You hear, Sad?”

He slipped the revolver into his coat pocket.

“Kay.  Oh, wait.  Got call.  I take.”  She pulled a toy phone out of her jacket and held it against a green ear flap.  Nodded.  “No.  Mom take nap.  Ri.  I tell Mom.  Bye.”  She poked it and put it away.

“Kay.  I Bianca.”  She pointed a stubby finger at an imaginary name tag. 

“Bee . . . ahn . . . ka.  I take care.”  She mimed holding a waitress’s pad and pen.  “What you want, Sad?”


“You hungry.  What you want?”

“Alright, a big steak.”

“Big take.”  Writing motions.  “More?”

“A baked potato.  Iced tea.”

“Tado.  I-tee.”  Writing.  “Got good cake.”

“Cake, then.”

“I cook.”  She made cooking gestures and sounds.  Set a plate on his knees.  “Be care, Sad.  It hot.”  Handed him a glass.

She squatted, chin on her fists.  Brown eyes serious.  “Eee.  Eee, now, Sad.”

He made half-hearted eating motions and she smiled.

A voice behind him said, “Thank God.  There you are.”

He stood.

The woman, her hair a mess, a raincoat hastily clutched around her, said, “Oh, you must be Frank Dove.  I am so, so sorry about your wife and son.”

He could only nod because everything was melting again.  He wiped his eyes.  They hadn’t let him near the wreck site, but he’d overheard one trooper tell another, “Worst I’ve ever seen.”

The woman said, “Bianca, you come along now.  I’m sure Mister Dove wants to be alone.”

“He not Dub.  He Sad.”  She looked up at him.  “I go, you call me?”

“Go with your mother, kid.”

She scowled but let herself be guided away along the path.

Frank said, “Kid?  Bianca?”

She pulled her mother to a halt and looked back, frowning.

He said, “Hey, I . . . I’ll call you, okay?”

“Kay.”  The frown dissolved into a full-faced smile and she waved a small hand.