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ISBN: 978-1-62557-830-3

The Ways We Get By

Publication Date: January 2021


Excerpt from “The Reluctant Son of a Fake Hero”

At noon I climb out of the mouth of the Hollywood/Highland metro station just in time to see the 212 bus thunder past, and Frank’s cape billow in its wake. He’s striking the classic pose–chest out, hands fisted on his hips–and as much as I hate to admit it, he looks pretty good. Considering. He’s kept up his physique. He’s got actual muscles beneath his suit, unlike most of the losers out here in their Halloween costumes with the drawn-on pecs and the injection-molded abs.

There are few tourists on the boulevard at this time of day, but soon a family of three stops to admire Frank. A series of photos are taken. In one, Frank wraps an arm around the wife while flexing the other so his bicep bulges against the blue fabric of his suit. In another, Frank picks up their daughter, a chubby blonde in pink overalls. He places the girl on his shoulder, squares his jaw, and points a fist to the sky. Then the husband hands Frank some money.

I walk up as they leave.

“A dollar?” Frank says. “I pick up their little piglet and the best they can do is a dollar. Jesus. I gotta start charging by the pound.”

Then Frank balls up the money and sticks it in the fanny pack he keeps hidden beneath his cape.

This is my father.

About the Author

Joe Dornich

Joe Dornich is a graduate of Texas Tech's creative writing program where he was the managing editor of Iron Horse Literary Review. His stories have won contests and fellowships from The Master's Review, Carve Magazine, South Central MLA, Key West Literary Seminars, and the South Carolina Academy of Authors. Joe lives in Knoxville and teaches at the University of Tennessee.

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