Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Short Con Week 45 - The Blind Man's Sighted Daughters

Joyce Carol Oates has an impressive resume, a lengthy list of novels under three names, poetry, essays, dramas, novellas, and even some children and young adult fiction.  But I haven't read any of it.  I would have loved to have read a book this month, but since that slate is already full, I guess I'll have to make do with another short story from my handy Best American Mystery Stories series.

Good thing it's a damn fine story.

The story centers around two sisters, Helen and Abigail, and their elderly, blind father Lyle Sebera.  Abigail is back in town to visit her family after years of being away, gone with a good job and a good family.  Helen hasn't been so lucky.  She decided to stay in Sparta, New York, to take care of him after a debilitating stroke.

He, Him were the ways in which we spoke of our elderly father in our lowered voices.  He, Him seemed more appropriate than such intimate words as Father, Dad.

Helen hasn't done as well as Abigail.  She's been stuck in a meaningless food service job, has no boyfriend, and generally hates life.  Will things change when Abigail decides it's her turn to take over his care?

It turns out, Abigail does more than wash the windows, change the sheets, and clean the house.  She also brings out secrets that have been quiet since 1967, when a mistress of her father, along with an old business partner of his, end up dead on the side of the road.  A beating disguised to look like a car accident.  Helen and her sister were just children then, but they knew something was up.  Could their father be a murderer.

The Blind Man's Sighted Daughters is not about finding the answers, so don't expect a tightly wrapped conclusion.  Instead, expect to read some fine storytelling with very compelling, sympathetic characters.  The father may be the one going blind, but it's everyone else who has turned a blind eye to the possible truth.  Keeping secrets can kill you as much as old age.

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