We’re breaking into your apartment
through your bedroom window.
The maintenance guy’s ladder
is propped against the sill.
I climb the ladder rung by rung,
it shivers, I try not to look down.
A face appears in the glass.
What are you doing, the face says.
I’m looking for my dad’s, I say.
I thought this was his window.
Aren’t you Ken’s boy, he says.
No, I say. Chris’s. Oh Chris, he says,
he’s dead. I know, I say. I thought
you could be Ken’s, he says.
Sorry, I say. Believe me,
the face says. Not my first rodeo.
I climb down. We haul the ladder
to the next window and try again.
It surprises me how little
I recognize what’s here. How long
has it been for you, Noah says.
Almost ten years, I guess.
Four for me, he says, stacking papers
in a ShopRite bag. You think mom
wants any of this, I say. Would you,
he says. I’ll take whatever this is.
I hold up what looks like a mortar
made of bronze. A car starts
on the second try. The window
we crawled in through hangs crooked
in its frame. I want the sword, he says.
He points to the corner of the kitchen
where a rapier leans in its scabbard,
ornate and slim. Did you know dad
had a sword, I say. You don’t remember,
he says. No. I don’t remember.
I think I was in California when you died.
There’s a window, the cop said,
but we can’t be sure. Maybe it happened
while K and I were having sneaky sex
then linking up with friends we missed, friends
from when we used to live there.
Or while getting hammered touring
our old spots – Baggy’s, Heart
and Dagger, Eli’s Mile High – and we tried
to call it, but when we got back
the neighbors were still dancing in their
Halloween best so we started swigging
from a plastic handle and sharing cigs
and shout-singing Baby’s black balloon
makes her fly. Maybe then. Or when
a bearded man in sequins piggybacked
our friend and we reached on tiptoe
to pull ripe pomelos from the dark—
Typically we don’t allow customers
back here, she says, but I’ll make
an exception since we haven’t processed
the morning yet. Totes and boxes marked
“donation” are bound with rope
and stacked neatly on giant rolling carts.
There he is, Noah says, pointing to the bin
we dropped off before lunch.
We slip it out like a huge jenga block,
unsnap the lid. We’re looking
for a velvet case we heard you kept three
silver crosses in, you were always talking
about them, one for each of your boys.
Button-ups, flatware. Stretched-out
tube socks. You sure they were ever
in there, she says. Let me leave you
my number, I say, in case.
Oh honey, she says. The chances of that.
You got the best years of him,
Noah says, considering you’re the oldest.
Luke says He got a lot worse
after you left. Hid in the basement, pissed
in the laundry sink. Pretended to be
writing a book. He was a weak man,
he says, simple as that. When his truck
got stolen, Noah says, is my theory.
That was the tipping point. But he
got it back, I remind them, plus everyone
chipped in, all those Home Depot
gift cards. That made it worse, he says.
It was like he got smaller overnight,
like someone threw water on him.
You heard about the rest: mom
throwing him out, cops and everything.
He was Handy, he says. You were gone
by the time he turned into Chris.
Chris, she says, oh you mean Handy,
great guy, life of the party, the party
was always at his place, him
and your mom’s, plus he could fix
anything, he was amazing, leaky faucet,
done, sticky door, done, lawnmower
won’t start, done, and give him three
of whatever, you name it, didn’t matter
if he was blasted or what, give him
a stapler, a pipe wrench, and a coffee pot
and he’d juggle them as long as you like,
and every time you’d think no way, it’s
over, he’s finished, he’d float
it all right in front of you, smooth
as a seal, then set them down easy one
by one, it was magic, everyone clapping
and carrying on, can’t believe you
never saw it, that’s how he always was.
The heart weighs 360 grams.
Stenosis in the coronary, eighty
percent occlusion. The valves
are unremarkable. The ventricles
are unremarkable. The brain weighs
1310 grams and is normal size
and shape. The brainstem has
the usual patterns on cut surface.
Positive for duloxetine anti-
depressant in the blood. Positive
for nicotine. For ethanol.
The genitals are those of a normal
man. The scalp has no contusion.
The skull has no fracture. The mustache
is a quarter inch, the beard
is a half. The nose and facial bones
are intact. The tongue is
unremarkable. The airway is clear.