By Jack Smiles
All I knew about my dad was that he was a WASP. That’s right, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. So, for my twenty-first birthday, I took a DNA test. I was fifty percent Irish, which I expected from my mother’s side, but the other fifty percent…
Inconclusive? I talked to friends and cousins on my mother’s side who had the test and none of them had ever heard of inconclusive. I called the 800-number, but ran out of patience after the fifth voice prompt. I sent emails, a web form, and a letter—that’s right: paper, envelope, and stamp.
I was seriously thinking about driving to Omaha and camping out in front of the office of the DNA company until someone gave me an answer. But it didn’t come to that. I got a text from a restricted number:
“Jane Reilly. Postum, New York. 611 Crandell Street. Inconclusive.”
611 Crandell was a six-story apartment building. I didn’t have an apartment number.
I stepped into the foyer. The door to No.1 opened. If this was Jane, I hoped to God we weren’t related. She was gorgeous. Tall. Blood-red hair. Enormous green eyes. I had red hair and green eyes, too, but nothing like hers.
“Inconclusive,” she said as she held open the door. “Come in.”
We sat on stools at the counter bar in her kitchen. She poured wine.
“Are you drawn to strange things and odd habits?” she asked.
I didn’t admit it, but yes. I liked aphids. I never knew why, but I collected them in a glass jar that I kept in the laundry room and watched as their tiny black or green bodies shriveled. Something I hid from my friends and cousins.
“Do you sleep outside?”
Again I couldn’t admit it, but again she was right. I did sleep outside a lot, sometimes in a hole.
“You are drawn to bright light, aren’t you, and deathly afraid of webs?”
“Well, we’re all unique.”
“Unique, indeed,” she said. “Follow me.”
I’d follow her anywhere.
We took an elevator to the roof. She walked to the back edge of the building. We stood side-by-side, looking down at an empty alleyway.
“We have the same great grandfather,” she said. “He was from….”
I didn’t hear where he was from. She’d pushed me off.
So this is how I die, I thought as I fell, and I was so close to discovering my heritage. But my body orientated in midair. My fall slowed. I landed gently on my feet. I looked up. Jane gave me a ‘come here’ gesture. My arms went up from my sides. They quivered, faster and faster, making a buzzing sound. I lifted off the ground and flew—floated, really—in a meandering pattern back to the roof.
My father, I realized, really was a WASP.