Related by Len Kuntz

The man at the door was missing an arm, part of his jaw, and he smelled like a brewery.

He claimed we were related.

My wife had left me, my son was in college, so I let the man in.

When he asked if I had any alcohol, I brought out port. He said it tasted like goat urine, but polished off the bottle anyway.

He told me that, while in Iraq, an IED had ripped his vehicle into confetti. “It took my arm, half my face. I’m lucky to be breathing.”
We drank more. Finally, I asked, “So, exactly how are we related?”

“I’m Uncle Buck!” he said, slapping his thigh.

“Seriously? You’re my father’s brother?”

“Why would I lie?”

I requested stories about Dad.

He said my father’s horrible insecurities were what made him career-obsessed, eventually turning him into an alcoholic. He said Dad felt guilty for working so much, for not ever being present as I grew up. He said Dad loved me more than life.


“Oh, man,” he said.

There were more stories, each enthralling and semi-accurate, but then he had to go.

At the door, I asked, “Did you know Dad’s dead?”


I hugged him hard. “Come back soon, Uncle Buck.”

He winced. “I’m not really your uncle.”

“I know.”

“Everything I said about your dad, I was just describing myself.”


“So–you and I–we’re not, like, well, even related.”

I patted his good arm and said, “Maybe not directly.”


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Filed under Len Kuntz

16 responses to “Related by Len Kuntz

  1. I read this twice, I liked it so much. I especially liked the “Oh man!” because it was so real, and of course the ending. Thank you.

  2. Ha ha … and you say you can’t write funny. Well, this made me laugh a few times.

  3. Len, this is exquisite writing. The dialogue, pacing of short sentences that jab, the voice, all just exquisite.

  4. Good story! You had me going, I believed him. I like how you turned it…

  5. Randal Houle

    laughed… figured. lol

  6. len

    Thank you all so much. I really appreciate your comments.

  7. Love this huckster! Sometimes we don’t know what we need until it shows up on your doorstep. Grand stuff! Peace…

  8. Catherine Davis

    Wonderful story. I like that the narrator knows more than we do (at least maybe some of us) but that this doesn’t smack of trickery or withholding. Thus big new insight into the character of the narrator himself when he reveals. I agree with Linda. Yes, the unexpected gift of just allowing it, despite. So very much accomplished with so few strokes. “Maybe not directly” is a resonant final note.

  9. This manages to be funny, maybe even charming, and poignant at the same time. Skillfully done.

  10. this was a fun lark to take and quite lyrical

  11. Matt DeVirgiliis

    Though it was humorous, it was also a great showing of one’s heart for a vet. Glad you wrote it.

  12. I liked the pacing and the strong dialogue. And the sense of acceptance in the characters brought on by loneliness… Thank you.

  13. Kim Hutchinson

    This was touching and quirky, a wonderful combination! Uncle Buck is a great character.

  14. Nicolette Wong

    what a sweet story – quirky and compassionate. great characterization too.

  15. I enjoyed this one Len- nice soft touch and feel for the characters.

  16. Pingback: Week #35 – Loose connections | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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