by Louis Gallo

My wife and I had finally packed all the books and china and doodads and linens and utensils and tools…what a load it all made: boxes taped and sealed stacked high throughout the rooms, all the furniture disassembled and ready to go. Of course we wanted to be frugal and did all the packing ourselves, but we both had had it with the actual transferring of a household into a truck and then lugging it all back in to the new place. So we found this outfit in the yellow pages, Lebruchio & Father, which, I swear we had used years earlier as Lebruchio & Son.

When they showed up, two hours late, a massive, smiling man stood outside the door. We shook hands and he asked if he could look around, get a handle on the situation. I noticed a frail old man following Lebruchio, the father I presumed, who after all the years had traded places with his son, he now the ancillary. This is what age does—the child is father of the man and all that. The father looked so ravaged by time, the wife and I could only guess that Son wanted to make him feel useful. Those old ones really need to feel useful, don’t ask me why. I will personally find nothing appealing about usefulness and hope when I become wretched and infirm. I pray no one will want to use me for anything.

So Lebruchio, a gentle giant, got to work and hoisted appliances onto a dolly, wasting no time. The father followed meekly along, carrying out a box of tissues here, some shirts on hangers there. Painful to watch. At one point he hobbled over to the wife and, after coughing and hacking, asked her if she had anything else light he could haul. She handed him her comb and a toothbrush. He shook his head and signed, ‘One at a time, I’ll be back for the comb.’ He trotted out with the toothbrush and slipped it into the pocket of Lebruchio Younger who was now in the process of carrying out three large boxes of hardbacks at once.

When it was all done the wife and I lowered ourselves onto the floor and stretched out. After all, we had worked hard too—any move is hard work, even if you’re watching.

Then we heard the weeping. I followed it to a back room and found Lebruchio, Sr., huddled in a corner, whimpering and rubbing his eyes. ‘He’s forgotten me again,’ he gasped, ‘and my knee has given out. I can’t make it to the truck. He’s about to pull out.’ Well, I scooped up the old man in my arms and carried him through the house, out the front door and signaled Lebruchio, ready to depart. He opened the shotgun door and I slid in the old man, who still wept. ‘Sorry about that,’ Lebruchio laughed. ‘They just don’t know when to quit, do they?’ I raised my eyebrows, slipped him an envelope of money. He removed a twenty and passed it back to me—‘For moving my father,’ he sighed.

Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortly appear in Wide Awake in the Pelican State (LSU anthology), Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth,  Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review, and many others. Chapbooks include The Truth Changes, The Abomination of Fascination, Status Updates and The Ten Most Important Questions. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books: A New Orleans Review. He was awarded an NEA fellowship for fiction. He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.