Saturday, 30 August 2008

30 August 2008

what the pitch was. There were five cousins in all and every one of them was nice. They seemed to belong to the side of Bea’s family that didn’t fuss off like her brother. I loved that wild Freddy. He swore he was coming to New York and join me. I pictured him in New York putting off everything till manana. He was drunk in a field someplace that day. I got off the truck at the crossroads and the cousins drove Bea home. They gave me the high-sign from the front of the house: the father and mother weren’t home, they were off picking grapes. So I had the run of the house for the afternoon. It was a four-room shack; I couldn’t imagine how the whole family managed to live in there. Flies flew over the sink. There were no screens, just like in the song. “The window she is broken and the rain she is coming in.” Bea was at home now and puttering around pots. Her two sisters giggled at me. The little children screamed in the road. When the sun came out red through the clouds of my last Valley afternoon Bea led me to Farmer Heffelfinger’s barn. Farmer Heffelfinger had a prosperous farm up the road. We put crates together, she brought blankets from the house and I was all set except for a great hairy tarantula that lurked at the pinpoint top of the barn-roof. Bea said it wouldn’t harm me if I didn’t bother it. I lay on my back and stared at it. I went out to the cemetery and climbed a tree. In the tree I sang “Blue Skies.” Bea and Raymond sat in the grass; we had grapes. In California you chew the juice out of the grapes and spit the skin away, a real luxury. Nightfall came. Bea went home for supper and came to the barn at nine o’clock with delicious tortillas and mashed beans. I lit a woodfire on the cement floor of the barn to make light. We screwed on the crates. Bea got up and cut right back to the shack. Her father was yelling at her, I could hear him from the barn. She’d left me a cape to keep warm; I threw it over my shoulder and skulked through the moonlit vineyard to see what was going on. I crept to the end of a row and kneeled in the warm dirt. Her five brothers were singing melodious songs in Spanish. The stars bent over the little roof; smoke poked from the stovepipe chimney. I smelled mashed beans and chili. The old man growled. The brothers

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