Sunday, 1 February 2009

31 January 2009

away. Others darted in and smoothly shot over our heads. We jumped at the basket like maniacs and the younger boys just reached up and grabbed the ball from our sweating hands and dribbled away. They thought we were crazy. Neal and I went back home playing catch from each sidewalk of the street. We tried extra special catches diving over bushes and barely missing posts. When a car came by I ran alongside and flipped the ball to Neal just barely behind the vanishing bumper. He darted and caught in and rolled in the grass, and flipped it back for me to catch on the other side of a parked bread truck. I just made it with my meat hand and threw it back so Neal had to whirl and back up and fall on his back across the hedges. This went on. Back in the house Neal took out his wallet, harrumphed, and handed my mother the fifteen dollars he owed her from the time we got a speeding ticket in Washington. She was completely surprised and pleased. We had a big supper. “Well Neal” said my mother “I hope you’ll be able to take care of your new baby that’s coming and stay married this time.” “Yes, yass, yes.” “You can’t go all over the country having babies like that. Those poor little things’ll grow up helpless. You’ve got to offer them a chance to live.” He looked at his feet and nodded. In the raw red dusk we said goodbye, on a bridge, over a superhiway. “I hope you’ll be in NY when I get back” I told him. “All I hope, Neal, is someday we’ll be able to live on the same street with our families and get to be a couple of oldtimers together.” “That’s right man---you know that I pray for it completely mindful of the troubles we both had and the troubles coming, as your mother knows and reminds me. I didn’t want the new baby, Diane insisted and wasn’t careful and we had a fight. Did you know Louanne got married to a sailor in Frisco and’s having a baby?” “Yes. We’re all getting in there now.” He took out a snapshot of Carolyn in Frisco with the new baby girl. The shadow of a man crossed the child on the sunny pavement, two long trouser legs in the sadness. “Who’s that?” “That’s only Al Hinkle. He came back to Helen, they’re gone to Denver now. They spent a day taking pictures.” He took out other pictures. I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder,

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