I guess you could say I’m between opportunities right now. Me and the foreman had a bit of a disagreement about my job performance. It got a little ugly. I didn’t go to jail or nothing, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
Anyways, I’m kicking back at home for a spell. I’m not worried. I can do it all. MIG, TIG, SMAW, brazing, even wrought iron if it comes to it. One or two calls and ol’ Ray’s back in the game. I’m not in any hurry. Rent’s cheap enough, and I got another check coming.
Yep. Ray’s fine.
“I can’t smell it.”
“Are you serious? Mom, I can smell it from outside.”
“Doesn’t bother me.”
“Is this where your money is going? These cats? Do you even know how many?”
“Sixteen, I think.”
“There are more than that in the kitchen.”
“I know them as individuals. I don’t keep track like that.”
“It’s unsanitary, Mom. It stinks.”
“That’s just the litter boxes. They all use them. At least most of them do. Like I say, I can’t smell it.”
“What do you neighbors say?”
“They’re all renters now since the Shepardson boy sold their house.”
“They’re still neighbors.”
Dang I miss Tana. She was big in my life, bigger than my mom even.
I met her someplace. Strange I don’t remember.
She had a magic to her, Tana did. Like the way she’d pull some blades of grass up in her hands while we sat in the park talking, twist them in her fingers and make a little cup or a bunny from them.
Or how she could talk about a book so it was better story than if you was reading it. She had a magic to her, all right.
I’ll always wonder where she went to.
“I have a visual,” he said over the noise of the chopper. “Looks to be 50-foot sloop badly listing to starboard. Over.”
“Roger. Anyone aboard?”
“Negative. Going in for a closer look. Over.”
Jenks examined the sailboat through his binoculars. “There’s a big hole in the port hull,” he said into the intercom. “Looks like a collision. Maybe another vessel, L.T.?”
“Nothing reported. My guess is a shipping container.” He brought the helicopter closer, the blades whipping the water to white foam. “If there’s anyone aboard, they’re unable to come on deck.”
Jenks buckled on the harness. “Lower me down.”
Kenny looked at the clock by his bed, then got up and went to the window. Her Celica drove down their street and vanished from view.
He looked down at the driveway, now empty. His mom’s car had been there a moment before and now it was like it’d never been there.
He took a deep breath and held it. He listened to the sounds of the house, hummings and clickings. He’d never noticed before how many sounds there were. They went on whether he was there or not.
He wondered if this was what it was like to be dead.
He was always a creepy kid. When he was twelve he locked a six-year-old neighbor boy into a trunk, sitting atop it and telling him to breathe slowly. Later, he started buying chemistry sets and Tesla coils, turning the basement into a Frankenstein lab. This led to bomb-making, which led to moviemaking, which led to film school. You know the rest of the story.
The thing is, though, you had to know him when he was young. Sometimes I’ll be sitting in one of his movies and it will come back to me. I’ll remember what he’d been like.
Lurch sat at the bar and surveyed the customers. That was the problem with small towns, he thought. You knew everybody and everybody knew you.
In Chicago, he’d wear shorts to show his prosthetic leg and the barflies would naturally assume he was a veteran. He never actually claimed this status, but he didn’t discourage it. He wore dog tags and BDU shorts and boots. In some Chicago bars, he seldom had to buy a drink.
But everybody here knew he’d lost the leg jumping off a train. “Dare me,” he’d said.
He’d been drunk, of course.
Then and now.