Dutch Ricker stood behind the gas station with a stub of cigarette dangling between his lips. After taking one last drag, he dropped it to the ground and stamped it out. Checking his watch, he headed to the pumps out front.

There was a van parked at the pumps. A man slid his card in the slot, only to kick or punch at the pump and try again.

Dutch walked over. "Need any help?"

"No," the man grumbled. "I've got it." He tried again to swipe his card.

Dutch looked into the van. A boy of approximately ten was watching out the car window while a small girl slept beside him.

The man swore loudly and kicked the pump again.

Dutch looked at the boy, then approached the man again. He took the man's credit card out of his hand and flipped it over.

"Try it now," he said.

The man glared at him, then swiped the card. The pump started to process the sale.

Dutch winked at the boy and walked into the station.

X

Dutch sat in his living room chair, an old beer stain covering the cushion, and stared out his window. A skunk was scavenging by the dumpster at the end of the parking lot.

Sipping at his beer, Dutch watched him.

In the deep recesses of his mind, he could hear his father's voice. "Donny, go get your Red Ryder. Shoot that little bastard between the eyes."

"I don't wanna, Daddy."

He flinched as he remembered the cuff upside his head.

"Don't be a little pansy. Go get your fricking gun."

X

"Donny, did you get paid today? Gimme that money."

"Dad, I need it. I'm taking Brenda out."

His father reached out and punched him in the temple. "Give me the money, you ungrateful little shit. You're only eighteen. You don't owe her anything. She can go dutch."

Handing $40.00 to his father, he kept a five dollar bill, stuffing it into his pocket. When his father stumbled out of the room, he punched his fist into the wall.

X

Clara-Ann stood in front of him, twirling her braid in her fingers. "Donny, wanna go to the movies tomorrow? See that new Indiana Jones movie?"

He dug his hands into his pockets. Scuffing his toe into the ground, he muttered, "We'll have to go dutch. My old man needed to borrow some money this week." He kept his head down and turned away from her.

"Okay. I don't mind," she said.

He shrugged. "I'll meet you there."

X

Taking his mother's elbow, he led her away from the grave. Handing her a wad of tissues from his pocket, he glanced at her. "He ain't worth the tears, Ma."

She sniffled. "What am I going to do without him?"

"You can do whatever you want. He won't be there to tell you no, no more." He helped her climb up into his pick-up truck.

Pulling himself into the driver's seat, he looked over at her. "Ma, you can go visit Gram in Connecticut. I'll drive you to the bus stop myself. You can go work at the library, putting away the books. You've always wanted to do that." He took her hands in his. "You can get a cat. Haven't you always wanted a cat?"

"But Donny, you're father is gone. He's gone. Forever."

"Don't call me that no more. My friends call me Dutch now. I don't want to ever be reminded of him again. I ain't nothing like him and I don't wanna be anything like him."

"You'll always be my Donny, Junior." She looked out the window as he drove away from the cemetery. "Do you really think I should get a cat?"

He chuckled. "Yeah. Go visit Gram first, though. Dad would never let you go. Then when you get home, I'll take you to the animal shelter."

X

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