Old virus ain’t quite done with Mr. Daddy yet. Still got a thing or two to teach him. Gonna pick him out of his bed and toss him on the bathroom floor where he’ll heave and wretch, his knotted guts exploding out of him. He’ll shake and shiver under five blankets and all his winter clothes. He’s known some pain in his time—Vietnam, working in the fields, his daddy’s belt—but nothing like this. This fever has Mr. Daddy like the whale had Jonah, and it’s going to take him deeper than he’s ever been, so deep he thinks he’s not coming back. He has fever dreams and waking visions, unable to distinguish which is which: he sees himself dying here alone, unmourned by wife or children. He swears to God: no more drinking, no more carrying on. But when the fever spits him back out, Mr. Daddy picks himself up off the floor, checks himself over—no breaks, no lasting injuries—cackles: If I can handle that, I can handle anything.
"This Thing of Darkness" originally appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of Red Rock Review.