Sunday, August 23, 2015


They thought about Esther's mother. Ca-Ca and Timothy sat in the tiny backyard and talked. It was easier to talk at Ca-Ca's house because her mother didn't move around much. She sat in the chair, climbed up to the toilet, spent maybe a few minutes in the kitchen making tuna fish for lunch, spaghetti and hamburgers (not meatballs) for dinner (that took a little longer) and that was it. Most days they used paper plates. On Friday afternoon she ran the vacuum. Ca-Ca dusted. Chores got done...sort of. Ca-Ca's father went to the market on Sunday. That was like a big outing. Sometimes she got a coloring book...Ca-Ca, I mean. Actually whole house liked coloring books. She could tell which pages her dad did, by the thick, heavy, dense blocks of color. Her mom was more subtle, shading in the crayons like paint. There was an old round can from Christmas cookies filled with broken crayons. She had it 'out back' now. Timothy liked to color too. But he only did it when he was with Ca-Ca. Then it was all right. They sat on the cheap, dull, white vinyl chairs resting the books on their laps. He had BARBIE ON VACATION!. She had BABIES & PUPPIES! They got them from the sale bin. Who cared? Ten year olds weren't supposed to color anyway.

Ca-Ca said - That detective-cop-guy was lookin' at us... Timothy didn't say anything.... Ca-Ca said - You want them to come get you? I don't want 'em to get me. You know, Jimmy What's-His-Names father is a cop and he curses like a drunken asshole. Once broke his mom's arm too. They said she slipped in the kitchen. Yeah, right. I hate cops. They're like them fat asses at school but with guns. You got a gun at your house?... Timothy went - I don't know.... Ca-Ca said - We do. He has 'em locked up down the cellar. One looks like a cowboy gun but not as long and black. One looks like an army gun. The other gun's a rifle. He goes to a gun place where they let you shot 'em. they got targets and keep score. Like Goofy Golf only with bullets...... Then silence... They color... Eight heartbeats later she says - How do you know it was Esther's ghost? How do you know it was real?..... Timothy shrugged and said - I just do... Your mom smelled her farts? - asked Ca-Ca..... He nodded. She thought for a while, then spoke - I saw a ghost once. Last winter. I went to sleep early on a Friday night, 'cause it was cold and all. Plus they were watchin' crappy shit on TV. So I took one a them High Lights magazines we get from school and got in bed. Goofus and Gallant should drop dead and go to hell....Them or the guy who draws them... Get to the ghost part - said Timothy.... She gave him a look and went on... Must have fallen asleep. Woke up later and turned off the lamp. Then, you know how my bed is right on the wall with the window? I sat up and raised the shade. Sometimes Mitzi from across the alley has guys over. When my light's off I can spy on 'em..... Tim giggles.... She says - So what? She's a tramp. It don't matter. Probably wants people to watch. But that night her house was dark. It was late. They were all dark. And it started to snow. You know that real quiet, light snow? Like that. That's when I seen it, the ghost, I mean. A kid comes walkin' along the top of all the back fences along the alley. Like a tightrope walker he was. Holdin' out his arms, keepin' balance and all. Only his clothes were funny, like what kids wore in an old Shirley Temple movie I once saw. Like from an old black and white movie where everybody's dead. That's why I don't like watchin' black and white movies, you know. Looks like ghosts are in 'em. I see him, the real ghost, I mean. And when he gets to our back fence he looks up like he sees me. Snows coming down. Sky's all nighttime gray, like it gets in the wintertime when it snows. You know what I mean? That's when I see he ain't got no feet. Got legs, but no feet. Walkin' on stumps he was. Then he makes a face like a crazy maniac and goes WHOOSH! right up toward my window. I scream. My father bangs on the door and goes - What happened? You all right?.... I say - I'm OK. Must a had a dream.... He says - All right. Go back to sleep.... I don't want to tell him about the ghost and all, 'cause I don't wanna go back to that mental place. But when I look out the window, the ghost ain't there. Still snowin', but no ghost.... Timothy doesn't say a word. Neither does Ca-Ca... Then she goes - Pony's grandmom had chest pains. Ambulance took her to the hospital. Didn't you see?... He goes - No. We went to see my new baby cousin..... She nods. Then she goes - Pony don't like to be in the house by herself.  Shaky Head said. She was talking to Big Tits. I heard. Gonna stay at her friend's house. Nobody gonna be there, the house, I mean.... Timothy goes - So?... So the money's in there and I know how to get in. Right through the cellar window. You know that. Then we can run away..... You got a whore to pretend she's our mom yet? How we gonna check into motels? We need a whore. You said - he asks.

Ca-Ca finishes coloring in a baby and goes - My cousin, Mike, knows a whore. So mind your business. Shut your face and quit using up all my silver crayon.

The two of them sit there in the late afternoon November gloom, till Ca-Ca's mother drags herself into the kitchen and starts supper. You can hear the whine from the can opener outside....

 Timothy puts back the crayon, closes the Barbie coloring book and leaves by the back fence door. Then he runs down the alley to the street and across to his house.

Ca-Ca just stares at the sky...

<to be continued>


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