Funky Good Time.

Odette gets home an hour after her daddy. 

He comes home and opens all of the windows to release the lingering stench of his chain smoking. If he’s in a good mood, the record player is spinning one of his favorite records. James Brown can be heard from down the street, proclaiming that we’re gonna have a funky good time. The neighborhood knows it can always be traced back to the Franklin residence. 

When Odette gets there, worn from a long school day, her daddy is dancing around the living room. He performs a duet consisting of him and his smoke. His smile gleams like diamonds, wearing his work overalls like a three-piece suit.

“Baby girl! Come dance with ya papa.”

Odette laughs and reaches for his outstretched hands. The calloused skin is a comfort to her, a sign that it would be a good day. They sing and boogie till her mama comes home. She gets pulled in sometimes, only lasting for half a song until she complains of having to get supper ready. He’ll kiss her face, sending her on her way with a smack on the butt. 

Odette watches her parents with adoration. Any day they’re up and dancing together is a good day. It’s the days where they aren’t that she’s afraid of. 

There are times where Odette gets home to find the windows closed and the house shrouded in silence. She makes sure to not make any noise upon entry, walking across linoleum on her tiptoes. Those are the days that her daddy isn’t dancing at all. He’s asleep on the couch, wrapped in the scent of menthol. Odette can smell the whiskey on his snores if she dares to get close enough. Her mama tells her to wait upstairs when he gets like that. 

“I’ll bring your supper to you. Daddy’s just had a long day, don’t worry too much about it.”

Odette is young, but she isn’t dumb. She sees how her mama’s pretty brown face blooms with purple and blue. They remind her of flowers; the kind that kill you if you stick your nose in them.

Those are the days Odette hates her daddy. She hates him for giving her mama those terrible flowers. She wishes she could give them to him instead. 

“Mama, what happened to your face?” Odette asks after another one of her daddy’s ‘long days’.

“You know your ol’ mama’s clumsy. Fell at work.” Her mama laughs. Odette does not. “Now eat so you can go on to bed.”

The next afternoon, Odette can hear the record player on her way home. A good sign. It’s not until she gets closer that Odette notices the record skipping. James Brown stutters through the window.

Good time. Good time. Good time. Good time.

Odette runs the rest of the way, flinging the door open. She pauses in the doorway to the living room. Her mama stands in the middle of the floor, chest heaving with her daddy’s thick whiskey bottle in one hand and his cigarette in her other. Underneath her is Odette’s daddy, still in his work overalls, smile stained like rubies and covered in those terrible flowers.

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