by Paul Beckman

It’s a quarter of seven and time to put Henry to bed or my daughter will be all over my case and blame me if he’s late getting up in the morning and cranky from lack of sleep and he only wants to watch the end of this stupid Hannah Montana program and Zeyde, he says, one of us has to stay and watch it and let me know what happens and I ask him if he’s seen it before and he says at least six times so I tell him then he knows what happens but he comes back with his seven-year old logic and says that maybe something different is going to happen because we’re watching it on a different night and he’s watching it with his Zeyde and not the mean baby sitter who won’t read to him if they watch it until the end, and he asks me if I’m going to read the next chapter in his book on the Titanic and I say I will but I might have to start it while he’s in the tub taking his bath and he asks who’s going to scrub-a-dub-dub him if I’m reading and I tell him of course he’s right but I have an idea and he gets all excited about an idea he doesn’t know yet and I tell him I will give him a speed bath, speed dry and he will do a speed brush teeth and then we’ll speed into his bedroom and I’ll do a speed read of the Titanic chapter and give him a speed tuck in and a speed hug and kiss and yes he can tell me a speed joke and I tell him okay as long as it’s not that knock knock banana joke and he says aww that’s his favorite joke and I speed carry him upstairs and I feel the ache in my old knees, and speed undress him and all the while the tub is running and I stand him in front of the toilet so he can speed pee and I toothpaste his Sponge Bob toothbrush and hand it to him and tell him to speed brush and hurry up and pee because if his mother gets home and he’s not sleeping by seven thirty than she won’t let Zeyde babysit anymore and bad Bubbeh will be his sitter and he knows what that means and finally he pees and I speed grab him and put him in the tub and speed scrub-a-dub-dub, lift him, speed dry him and speed his pj’s on and speed tuck him in and start to speed read from where the bookmark is and I hear my daughter’s car pull into the garage and speed up my reading but thankfully all this speed has worn my grandson out so I know I won’t be denied any more babysitting in favor of my former wife and I kiss him on his head and head for the door when I hear a sleepy voice say, Zeyde, knock knock. . .and I speed my way out of his bedroom after turning on his nightlight and close the door behind me and I check my watch and I have two minutes to go so I start down the stairs to face the barrage of mother questions.

Paul Beckman’s fourth flash collection is Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press), was a finalist for the 2019 Short Story Indie Book Awards. His stories have appeared in the following publications as well as many others: Spelk, Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, Thrice Fiction, and The Lost Balloon. Paul curates the FBomb NY flash fiction reading series monthly at KGB’s Red Room in New York’s lower east side.