Ten years ago, ride down to southern Iowa, drop off some equipment. Six hours, Randall Glenn is driving. Never says a word in six hours. "You hunt?" I ask, trying to see if there's anything he cares to talk about. "Can't have guns" he says "wife's on parole."
A month later we make the same trip. Glenn brings his little daughter along. Cute little kid, about eight I guess, full of life and energy. Can't sit still. They don't say much, but she makes a 'string pulling' gesture every time we pass a semi. Semi drivers smile and pull on their horns, noisy. Glenn and the little girl laugh. Over and over she does that. Gets irritating.
Last year, stop by the plumbers shop, over by the highway. It's locked 'back in ten minutes' the sign says. Wander around, walk up to the ratty apartments above the shop. Door's open, place is empty, just clutter of boxes and junk lying around. Go back down to the shop, open now. Get the stuff I need, and we get to talking, me and the plumber's wife. She runs the shop while the guys are out on jobs.
"I see one of your apartments is vacant." "Yeah, the girl ran off. Owes me a couple a months rent; poor kid." "Who" I ask. "Shelly Glenn." "Randall's girl?" "Yeah, poor kid; gonna be like her mom, I'm afraid."
Tonight, we're playing at the schoolyard, Catholic school, across the street from the church. A block from our house. Cadillac pulls up and woman starts taking big baskets of food down into the school cafeteria through the backdoor. Makes several trips up and down the steps. Wonder if I should offer to help. Later a small pickup parks beside the Cadillac, two little girls get out and come over to play with my little girl.
Their mom gets out and takes more food down into the school basement. "What up" I ask. "Double baptism tomorrow" she explains "my baby and my cousin's too." I watch the kids play, glad that little Wendy gots someone to play with for a change. The mom comes back up after a bit "kids, it's gonna be dark soon, we have to go." "Lots of sunlight left" I tell her. "Okay" she says "girls, I'll be right back. Just gonna run home for a minute."
I smoke another cigarette, marvel at how little kids can run up the slide barefooted. So much energy they have, unlimited. Don't know what to do with it. Guess I did too, way back then. Starting to get dark out now, the girls' mom returns.
"You live around here" I ask. "Over on Witby" she says. "corner of Fifth Street." "That big house, that was renovated?" "No, that's across the street." She looks at the three little girls. Smiles at them.
"They did a really great job at fixing up that big old house, after it was vacant all those years" she tells me. "It used to be a real bad drug house." "Really?" I ask. "Yeah, they found all sorts of needles and roaches in the walls when they fixed it up. Even chicken wire on the windows so the kids couldn't get out." "Damn...who was it used to live there?" "Glenn's" she says "I think that was their name."
About the author:
Mikael Covey lives in Dakota with his four-year girl. His writing has appeared in Litkicks, Literal Translations, The Whirligigzine, 3:AM Magazine, and elsewhere. Mike is currently working on a novel.
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