the way he explained it sounded easy.
another city another name
a fresh start away
no more of the snake eating its tail
billy, he don’t ask questions
too young I expect
to miss any of this
but the kid surprised me
with his memory
called us by our old name
more than once after I told him
he must never ever
he missed the old apartment
missed his old room and toy cars
I’ll get you new cars I said
better than those old ones
you can play all day and not even miss them
I stamp hard three times on that grave-dirt like Crone said to do, but I still fret I ain’t finished with him yet.
Him and all his hurts, far back as I can remember.
Sound of his leather belt whistling though the pants-loops soon as he got home, strut through the shack with it doubled in his hand and never saying a word about what I done to deserve a whipping.
Or what I ain’t done, since it never mattered.
Even seeing his drawed-out corpse laying on the slab don’t call up pity.
He deserved every sort of suffering, and more.
The black suit is stiff and shiny, but it’s required wearing.
My old man was big shit in this town.
Everybody is here.
Reporters, the Mayor, even that basketball player.
All of them lining up to tell me how sorry they are for my loss.
He was a great man, your father.
He’ll be missed.
He’s gone to a better place.
The women go milk-eyed and pat my arm, the men give the hearty hand-pump and stare into my face like I’m in on the joke.
My old man, pillar of the community, solid gold son-of-a-bitch who got away with murder.
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.”