April's body was in New Orleans, though her mind kept on a slow train ride to where the earliest years she could remember were residing. Her feet walked the jazz-beat with the midnight crowd on Bourbon Street, and each balcony she passed under would throw a shadow over the eyes of April, and each and every time she would look up to see if anyone was looking down at her. She felt like a fluttering specimen, eyed. Maybe it was just the shadow.

At four she stepped into a pile of ants and they bit her feet into a thousand tiny fires- flaming polkadots. She cried, and remembered someone coming over and grabbing the hose. He poured the cool water over April's screaming legs. She thought this might have been the one she was searching for. If so, this could be the only vague piece of memory tucked away in her mind of him- and, it was ephemeral, quick to dissipate out of her head and leaving her without a truly clear picture of the man's image.

The night was warm. The people loud. Various sharps and flats would burst into the air occasionally where April walked. She passed under another balcony with rails smothered in beads. A naked woman was swinging her breasts toward a man down on the street from this balcony. Everyone was drunk. It was probably about one a.m., and here April walked alone, looking for the bar where she was told he was.

He wasn't ever where she was as long as she could think back. She could not remember anything of him- though her mother told her that he was a sweet man. But where had he ever been? April had always believed her mother, her sweet mother, but... Mom was great, cooking spaghetti every night for the two of them. Things were great. Childhood almost tickling innocent.

She had kept a steady pace down the street, keeping her eyes from catching anyone else's, and occasionally lifting them to read the signs above the bars. Eventually she read the amber glow of the squiggled word Galore's ahead of her, and she went through it's entrance, a rotted wooden door that gave a vacant impression- but upon entering these doors April found herself in a midst of loud, swirling mess busting of people and saturated with the smell of stale sweat. Her ears immediately pounded from the decibals, and she noticed the strippers on the stage at the opposite end of where she stood, their bodies half blind to her due to all the smoke.

She walked through the nests of men and women, trying not to touch anyone as she headed toward the front of the bar. She attempted to catch the eye of the bartender, and when she finally did, he gave her a strange look.

"Is Darron here?" April yelled this, her own self shocked by the sound of her voice. She hadn't heard it all night, and here it came out of her, sounding just a little too loud.

"Darron? Yeah- why?"

"I need to talk to him."

"I'll tell him who you are- give me your name."

"April."

"April?"

"Yeah."

A look, up then down then up. "Hold on."

Seconds later the bartender returned and told April to go in back behind the main stage. He said Darron would be there.

April took her heavy breaths with her into the back, through the black doors and down the narrow black hall, and entered the body of a black room, where in sitting in a corner was a drak haired man and a blonde haired man, and both swung their heads in April's direction once she entered.

April did not attempt to speak first. She wondered if she could if she tried. The two men looked at each other, the blonde appearing much more interested in April than the dark one. In those first few seconds she hoped that the blonde was Darron, but knew both before and after the dark man whispered for the blonde to leave, that she was wrong. The blonde left, keeping a steady gaze on April as he did so, though April kept her eyes focused on the man sitting.

His eyes were green, and their round looming shape immediately sent an intimidating image into April's head. Weren't they familiar? Weren't they familiar?

"So what do you want, April?" The man's voice was extremely deep- it sounded as if he may have lost his voice and had only recently gained it back.

"Do you know who I am?" April asked, her question sent quickly and loud out of her nervous anxiety and haste.

The man squinted and then grinned; a feeble and almost sheepish grin as if he were guilty of some petty crime.

"Could you refresh my memory?"

April was hit with this and it hurt her- she had realized this confrontation might be painful, but suddenly she didn't want to deal with it. She didn't want to deal with this Darron who had no idea who she was. She began to turn around, and as she started to open the door and walk out, wanting to leave it all and forget that she even might have had a father, the man- Darron- jumped up and came at her.

"Wait. What do you want, April? Don't leave, seriously. Just tell me who you are and we can talk. Don't get pissed."

April hesitated. She looked down and away from Darron, worried that if she did look back at him she might feel the hurt again. Did he not see it? Did he not see the resemblance?

Darron stepped back, again futily trying to place her.

"Are you an old girlfriend?"

April shook her head.

"Do I owe you money?"

April shook her head.

"A favor? You need a job?"

"No. Please... you honestly don't know? Try to remember."

April implored him with a softer voice. She looked at him with her large green eyes, hoping he would see how similar they were. Darron took this the wrong way.

"Well, perhaps you could help me out some," he said, his voice deeper and almost animal sounding. He moved closer to her and put his hand on her shoulder. April was briefly without words. The air in her lungs went out, and her eyes closed due to the sudden outbreak of a sickening dizziness.

"Tell me..." The dark man put his hand on her hip now, and finally April spoke.

"Dad."

Darron didn't seem to catch this at first, and then it finally registered. His hand flashed back as if he'd placed it on a hot stove.

"Dad?" he echoed. He stepped further away, now finally looking at April with true vision. He appeared to notice some, but he didn't want to agree with them. He was used to living in fantasy, and family only brought reality. He must have taken a permanent vacation- and all that jazz.

"You never knew..?" April asked, still recovering from the man's initial intentions for her. Darron kept his mouth shut for a moment, and he seemed to be flipping through the vague memories in his head. What April didn't know was that he was actually flipping through his Which girl, Which girl catalogue, wondering who might have decided to skip on birth control without his knowing it. But then again, there were so many...

April began to get a clearer picture of the situation, adjusting to the idea of who this man was and how he'd been living his life; him being the owner of a strip joint had to infer the least.

"Michelle Grover is my mother." April tacitly explained, sensing Darron's trouble with his memory. His gaze shifted back onto April, and he smiled.

"Shelley! Of, course. I think she told me she had a baby- but she eventually left town and I haven't been in touch with her in, shit, about seventeen years or so."

"I'm eighteen."

"Really? Well, you look great. Shelley did a good job raising you. You know-"

"You never had any idea? I thought you knew. I thought you'd seen me before. Mother said you did. She said you were with us at one time, before I could remember... You never knew?"

Darron attempted to cough, and as she sat waiting for an answer staring all through his dark venure and through his tainted head, she had finally realized that she had come to see, and been searching for all this time, a man that could not possibly be her father. She could not see it any longer. She had learned his name and then she had found his wherabouts, but she figured the name must have been wrong.

Darron tried to be as gentle as he could in his own way. He watched her face and tried to figure out the right words to say to a girl had not seen what he'd seen or been where he had been. He could not grasp the truth of the situation. This girl was pathetic, and she was looking for a father and figured it might be him. He had no child.

"Do we look alike?" Darron asked, his fingers reaching up to touch the bit of black hair that had fallen across one eye.

April stared at him. The fucker. He was trying to be so calm. Vacations, after all, demand no stress.

"No. No. We look nothing alike." April stated this with her young force, and put her eyes to the ground searching the aqua carpet for answers... for a way to leave the situation as quick as utterly possible.

Darron watched her face turn down, and then said, "You don't think so? Well neither do I. Shit, we're night and day."

"Yeah," replied April, gaining strength in her voice as she moved back a little more towards the black door. "This was wrong. I'm sure. I've just been looking up some of the names in mom's stuff. I was sure I...was wrong."

April began to open the door, and as the crack between the door and the wall made its slit into existence, the loud agonizing sound of the music penetrated the room with its harsh pounding.

Darron smiled and began to talk for the last time. "Yeah, Shelley was a cool girl. Afraid I'm not your father, though. Good luck finding him. Damn, it couldn't be possible all those times- but we always used safety..."

April left the room. She found her way out of the bar and landed back out on the street, the noise in the back of her throat too low to be detectable by anyone in the blaring crowd on Bourbon. She began to walk back down toward her hotel, putting her eyes in the air this time, keeping them away from the drunkards. April's body was in New Orleans. She was thinking of birds flying.

1996

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