Parental Professions

[More background material for the novel courtesy of a prompt from The Daily Post, Oil, Meet Water — how two people completely unlike each other get along]

“My dad works at the fire department.” Sitting on the floor of the Bark Bay High School cafeteria, Butch twisted his round body in the direction of The Bird, the slender girl sitting next to him looking increasingly uncomfortable with every word spoken by the tow-headed teen. “He’s a deacon, too, at First Baptist. When people ask him what he does, he usually tells them he’s a deacon first, then a fireman, even though he doesn’t get paid for it.”

Compelled by her confusion, The Bird asked if his father was a volunteer fireman.

“Oh! No, the town doesn’t have no volunteer firemen.”

The Bird blinked, and said he must have meant his father didn’t get paid as a deacon. Butch squinted at her. “None of the deacons get paid.”

Speaking much more quickly than usual, The Bird said her mother was an actress.

“Oh!” He stared up blankly at the ceiling a moment. “Well, I guess everyone’s got to make a living. My dad, he says he doesn’t like actors. Said movie stars, all they do is swear, fornicate, and do drugs.”

The Bird assured Butch that her mother had never been in any movies, even when she’d lived in Los Angeles, before The Bird was born.

“Oh!” Butch scratched his head. “So, what does your father do?”

The Bird said she didn’t know who her father was. Her mother met him in Los Angeles, but left him right after getting pregnant. All The Bird knew about her father was that he worked at a movie studio.

“Oh! So, why’d your mother leave him?”

Because of the swearing, fornicating, and drugs.

“Oh!” Butch shook his head. “For real?”

The Bird smiled, and said she was joking.

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