I go to Rodney and Betty’s grocery only for the credit, because they sell mealy hamburger and I won’t touch the chicken anymore after the kids found feathers stuck in their drumsticks. It was at a barbeque, a really rare day when the sky is clear cornflower. It is unusual having a summer day when the air is light, light, without so much humidity trapped inside it you could suffocate.Continue reading “Self-Made Grocers by Susan DeFelice”
The house keys fell from my pocket when I reached for my gloves. Attached to a silver ring, they clattered on the sewer grate, slipped through, and disappeared with a splash.
I cursed, threw my head back, and considered the enormity of the problem: it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s; my wife was at a yoga retreat with her sister, in upstate New York; my landlord was probably out of town; I had only loose change in my pocket; less than a quarter-charge on my phone; and my bladder was almost full.
After donning the gloves, I tried lifting the grate but it wouldn’t budge. Recovering the keys was unlikely, what I wanted was a hiding place from my shame.
She was the last one to move in. Most people moved in the day the builders handed the keys over, but her house stayed empty for a couple of weeks. She was renting which probably explains it. We still don’t actually know who owns the place, even after everything that’s happened.
The kids in town nearly ignored marijuana altogether; they moved straight to heroin. They smoke it off of aluminum foil and to them it’s like taking communion. Not many shoot it, perhaps because they’re afraid of explaining away the marks during gym class.
Early evening light, what was left of it, spilled near Jack Wilkens in his one lone room in the big house, a house once flaunting and imposing in its stance, now cluttered like an old shed forgotten in a back lot, debris its main décor. Despite his reputation as the town drunk, a ne’er-do-well from the first day, an inveterate crank, there had been an instant and subtle attraction between me and the old codger, an attraction without early explanation.
“Just follow me,” George said, “and you’ll know everything about Glastonbury, because I know everything about it. They all call me the king, everyone does, even mum.”
Christmas was coming. Who’d be Santa Claus had suddenly gotten sticky.
There had to be forty or so kids living in the urban cul-de-sac, all of them in squashed-in apartments in a dozen three- and four-decker buildings, the pigeons on the roof often mingling with the kids at tall hide-‘n’-seek, romances in dark budding, now and then some contraband or stolen goods getting exposed, two or three gymnasts every generation that managed and used the roof tops for exercises, dares, escapes of one sort or another. Merton Place, from various points of view, was a city in itself.
And Christmas was coming. It was around the corner.