After My Father Dies, We Find Out How Much He Had in the Bank

Before my third birthday, I'm told 
we moved from the city to the mountains, 
where my father could breathe easier; 
where he— who'd stopped smoking and
drinking, who only stood five 
feet tall and whose idea of personal
safety was to put a nail clipper
in his coat pocket, its tiny 
ridged file unfolded— had found 
a job as City Sheriff. I don't
think he held the post long
though I have a vague memory 
of a round metal badge 
with a star in the middle
somewhere in a disorderly drawer. 
Or my memory is making up stories
again, patching the holes in an old
robe it can't throw away. He was never
a brave man, my father: at least not
in the way it's understood, especially
among men. Not even a swagger or
a deep, gruff voice. Not a glass 
case displaying rifles. He liked 
to say that the reason we'd likely
not be wealthy was because he never
took a bribe, not ever. There are some
people whose lives are a clean sheet 
of accounting, and he was one of those—
even if at the end, the remaining 
balance was close to zero. 
 
 

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