The Wallet

Tri-fold. Cracked brown leather scuffed tan where it brushes against his back-right Levis pocket. For Christmas 1998 from Cathy, the home health aide he met at Lucky Strike Lanes; they dated for eight months before his second wife, Laura.

In the front-right-hand compartment: a Chevron Card, a Mastercard he renewed via some automated system last week, an ATM receipt from Tuesday at 12:10 pm for $40—the rest of his week’s lunch groceries.

Behind that: a CPR verification from his welding on-the-job-training for OSHA.

Behind that: a Minnesota driver’s license—his first, March 5, 1972—his second test a charm after grazing an orange cone the first go-round.

In the front-left-hand compartment: an Arizona license renewed last year. He decides his smile looks more like a grimace and his scalp’s gone Kojak now. Dot coos that it’s sexy, but he’s not buying it. She’s sweet enough company and still has good legs, but there’s the 87-year-old live-in mother to contend with, so he yet again drops Dot off with a peck on the cheek and an invitation to his place that Dot never takes him up on. Just more shared pot roast at Wiley Pete’s, the occasional car-grope in the Cineplex parking lot like they’re seventeen.

Behind that: Sandy, his first wife with the dimple on her chin, holds their daughter, Ivy, at 4 months. He’s the one, 27, with the Santa hat the photographer insisted on and Sandy said, “Be a sport for once.”

Behind that: Josey as a pup in the dog run he built by the old summer kitchen, because Laura whined about dander every five minutes. Should have kept the beagle instead.

Behind that: a finally-paid-off Visa he keeps meaning to scissor-up, four years expired.

Behind that: a Texas license from the handlebar mustache period renewed January 20, 1987.

Behind that: a proof of purchase from his final packet of Camels— Laura’s one redeeming compulsion.

In the long middle compartment along the back—one ten, three fives, and two ones he stacks face-forward like logs on an Eagle Scout camp fire as his dad taught him.

Behind that—folded into segments, a computer print-out Ivy mailed of his youngest grandson, Jack, wearing swim goggles and a red plastic tablecloth as a cape. Shirtless, mid-karate chop, all of seven years old and already, like his Pap, ready to take down life’s nonsense.

Melanie Faith holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, NC. Her work has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. She is a writing tutor at a college preparatory high school in Pennsylvania and an online writing instructor. Her poems, essays, photos, and fiction have been published most recently at Vermillion Literary Project, Linden Avenue, The New Writer, Foliate Oak, Aldrich Press, and Origami Poems Project.