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Estranged Days
by Christopher Painter

JEROME WAS TAKING a shortcut home, the one his wife begged him never to use. It wound through a series of narrow alleys, choked with dumpsters spewing out garbage like tombs rejecting their dead. And the stench of urine. And all of it swathed in eerie darkness.

Suddenly, from up ahead, a man in a gray suit rose from the ground. The full moon shone down upon him, wreathing him in a ghostly glow.

"Jerome!" said the man.

Jerome was terrified. "Who... who are you?"

"It's me. Your dad."

Jerome didn't recognize him in a suit, the filthy bum.

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