Leo showed up 35 minutes late to his step brother Tim’s funeral. He also dipped out right in the middle of his own speech.
“I always preferred funerals to weddings because at least with funerals people cry over something that is permanent” wasn’t the best line to open with.
After hiding out all day, Leo emerged from his humiliated sulk and decided to go for a walk through his hometown of Duluth, Minnesota.
The evening clouds watched the waves crash against the jagged rocks of Lake Superior while Leo trotted along the Canal Park boardwalk.
He thought about the time when he and Tim were kids at the beach and Tim buried him beneath the sand and nearly suffocated him to death.
He thought about the time when Tim convinced him that lightning bugs were evil creatures that were out to electrocute people. Even as an adult, Leo still had nightmares about them.
And he thought about the green T-shirt. That stupid green T-shirt that Tim always wore. It was forever ironed into Leo’s brain.
Leo stopped to sit on a weathered bench. A few feet behind him, there was a bush where a group of lightning bugs were congregating. After a few minutes passed, one of the lightning bugs landed directly on Leo’s shoulder and he froze with fear. But when he got a closer look at the blinking creature, he admired its shine and realized it was quite a peaceful little thing. He was even disappointed when it zipped away.
Just then, he thought about Tim again. He was mad at himself for missing him. And he knew that if Tim knew about this, he’d make fun of him for it.
When Leo got up and continued on his walk, the wind diminished, the waves calmed, the clouds cleared, and an effervescent green light glowed brightly across the sky.
As Leo gazed out at the stunning sight, he shook his head and smirked. “Fuck you, Tim.”
Zach Murphy is a Hawaii-born writer with a background in cinema. His stories appear in Mystery Tribune, Ghost City Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Spelk Fiction, Door Is A Jar, Levitate, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Crêpe & Penn, Drunk Monkeys, Ellipsis Zine, and Wilderness House Literary Review. He lives with his wonderful wife Kelly in St. Paul, Minnesota.