My father isn’t rich. He isn’t poor either. He is just a hard worker. His momma raised him that way.

Now his momma, she lived through the Great Depression. She was born in a two-­bedroom house on the island. She was raised there with her three siblings. Then she went off and got married. She moved into another two­bedroom house down the street. There she would raise three boys. She always loved the island, even if it was another dirty little borough of a great big old city.

My father is the youngest of the boys. Though they lived in small quarters, those boys never wanted for anything. They had two dogs and a little above ground swimming pool. Their father was a garbage man, and their momma was a homemaker. Those boys were all taught the meaning of hard work, and they do—work hard, that is. They all became tradesmen.

Now my father likes to say that he worked to be able to afford our lifestyle. But now that he can afford it, he’s gonna enjoy it. He says there were times where he didn’t have a lot. So now he likes to go to the bank, just because he can: cashing checks, depositing them, withdrawing and transferring funds. He says he didn’t have a lot, but now he has more than plenty.

“Ma,” I say. “Are you home, Ma? I gotta tell you something.”

I rush to tell her. I have to tell her first. She always gets a kick out of these things. It’d be a damn shame for her to be out now.

“Hold on,” she says.

I almost didn’t hear, but then she appears. From the top of the stairs, her eyes fix to me quick; phone glued to her left ear, wearing a pink robe. I get why she didn’t answer me.

“I’m on the phone,” she says, in a huff. I’ve disturbed her. But I’ve gotta tell her what happened. She’ll just die.

I slump at the bottom of the stairs, lazily running through the list of all the places I’ve got to be. Gotta get gas, go grocery shopping, pick up the dry cleaning. And you know what else? I bet Paul would eat this story up, too. Maybe I’ll stop by, see Antony on his lunch break. Gas, groceries, pick up the dry cleaning, and see Antony. Tony’s my long time –

“Whatcha doing home so early?” she says, clearly off the phone now. “I thought you were busy today. What, did you forget something?” She says this cheekily, while coming down the stairs. She’s always like that. Has to be on my case, teasing me. She can never just let things lie. She

has to poke and prod.

“I have a story to tell you,” I say. “This one’s a doozy.”

“Well then,” she says. She pauses and meanders into the kitchen. “Go on then,” while making her fourth cup of coffee, and it’s not even half past eleven.

I contemplate walking right out the door. She’s in a right state, and I’m not in the mood to put up with her. Yet she stands, staring at me curiously. This time, I figure, this time I’ll let it go. I mean, she’s still in her robe; hair’s not even done yet. Figure she can’t do much more harm before noon.

“Okay,” I say. “So I left the house in a rush. I owe daddy that money, you know.”

She just nods. Trying to figure out where this is going. Trying to wonder if I robbed a bank. Now my father may be a tradesman, but he should’ve been a bank man.

“Well I decided to go to the bank first,” I say. “You know I keep forgetting to cash that check. Figured that I should just get it outta the way.” I hop onto the counter to sit.

I proceed to recount how I drove up to the bank, half a mile away. Telling how I nearly got hit in the lot and then got looks from women in the lobby.

“They were big women,” I say. “Two of them barking like a round pair of short, fat, seals; and the look they gave me. Lord, I swear. You’d have thought I just called their babies ugly.” I look away from my Ma and try to hide my grin. Those two fatties probably did have ugly, fat, seal babies. I mean it can’t be helped much. It’s just genes.

Momma coughs a little and gives me a look like she knows what I’m thinking.
So I continue the story. Despite the two barking seals by the door, a tall, slim, milk-cocoa man at the counter motions me forward. His eyes are surprisingly sharp, keeping note of every move I make. Tellers at the bank always seem distrustful of young people.

“Morning,” he says, still a little wary.

“Morning,” I say. “I’d like to cash a check,” trying to keep my tone warm and light. I don’t want any trouble, same as them. I’ve got a list to get through anyway.

I move to hand the cocoa man the slip of paper, but pause. Checking that I’ve signed it, I place it on the counter. He inspects it. “Have you got an account with us?” he says.

“Mhm,” I say. “Of course.”

“I’ll just need your driver’s license,” he says. “To look up your account.”

So I pull open my bag, and start to look. Digging past papers I see the decoy wallet. You know the one I would give away if I ever got mugged. There are pens, gum, receipts, wipes, ChapStick, but no wallet, no license.

“I can’t seem to find it,” I say, still digging. “I’ll have to come back. I’m terribly sorry.”

“Perchance,” he says quickly, “is Salvatore related to Lou?” I stop dead, and look up dazed.

“Yes,” I say. “Salvatore is my brother. And Louis is our father.”

The cocoa man’s sharp eyes warm up instantly. Then it clicks for me. The bank man knows my father.

“Oh,” he says happily. “Lou is always here. He’s such a nice man. Here, let me cash this for you. Would you like it in twenties?”
I nodded dumbly, amazed at the quick change in attitude. The workers behind the counter shoot him sideways glances, wondering whom he’s breaking the rules for.

As the teller hands me my envelope and says, “Have a nice day, Miss,” I wonder if other tellers know my father as well. He’s in here every other day. After all, he likes to go to the bank, just because he can: cashing checks, depositing them, withdrawing and transferring funds. He says he didn’t always have a lot, but now he has more than plenty. I guess he’s a different kind of bank man.

I walk past the seal ladies with my head high. Don’t they know who my father is? I get in the car and head home. I gotta tell my Ma first thing, I think. She’ll get a kick out of this story. She likes to tease my father about going to the bank.

Her laughter rings through the kitchen. “Your father,” she says. “You gotta tell your father,” Ma says, again and again.

Sitting there I can’t help but think how my father made my day a little better. The story took my mother right out of her mood, too. He’s a good man, helping his family even when he’s not around.

I grab my real wallet from the table, and kiss my Ma on the cheek. “Gotta get going,” I say. “Mmm,” she says.

I run through my list: gotta grab some groceries, and get gas. Bank is already done. Pick up the laundry from the cleaners. Don’t meet Antony for lunch. “He’s been busy,” I say. “In a right state, too.” Talking to myself is never a good sign.

Guess I’m madder at Tony than I thought. Though if he calls me later, if he calls me, I’ll tell him the story.

“He’ll have to have lunch by himself,” I say.

Kayla Carucci is a writer, photographer, and book artist. She resides in New Jersey, where she was born, and currently works at an art gallery, despite her love/hate relationship with the Garden State. Kayla hopes to find a way to combine all of her passions when she finishes her BFA in Photography in the spring of 2015.