Chris Coplan

You’re a Man Now

It’s my 21st birthday party at Aunt Lou’s new condo. Pops walks me out back to an old bench he built when he’d lived far away. He drags a match across the ragged oak armrest and set it to a fully-packed pipe. When he turns toward me, I notice how old he looks sucking away at the chipped mouthpiece. A cloud of smoke emerges as I hear his voice unfurl. “Today I want to give you the best threat you’ll ever use. It’ll burn men to their soul and make you a gold-plated king.” I see his face more clearly — half bent between a grin and this wide-eyed gaze saved for his singular ilk. “I’ll pull out your teeth and grind them to a powder. Then I’ll take that powder, press it into a handle, and put that on a blade. I’ll take that knife and cut a piece of pie you ain’t ever gonna have.” Plucking on a suspender, his cheeks and chin melt into a large, curvy smile. Pops pats me on the knee with a huge mitt of cracked leather skin. He shuffles back to the party, savoring one last hit of smoke. He drops dead in the den, eating a piece of cantaloupe.

Chris Coplan is a writer based out of Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in 2008, he’s worked as a music reporter/critic, marketing/copywriter, and resume editor/writer. His journalism and non-fiction have appeared in Consequence, Time, Complex, and Phoenix New Times, among several others. He lives near the Melrose District with his wife, stepdaughter, handsome dog, and two emotionally manipulative cats.