Another hot day is on order for today, I realize as I sit here on the steps of our apartment. Mom left for her early job hours ago, while I was still asleep. I suppose she woke me up on the way out; she usually does — whispers that she is leaving and kisses me on the head as I sleep on the sofa in the family room. But, I don’t remember this morning that clearly to be honest, so I am just guessing.
My younger brothers and sisters are still sleeping, I think. I am the oldest, so I have to look after them in the summer when there is no school. They are all big enough to get up and get dressed and ready for the day. They know the routine. They know what I expect.
I think I will take them over to the park with the fountain today. I have to return those library books as we can’t afford any late fees and that is sort of on the way. My stomach grumbles. I haven’t had anything to eat since yesterday. I scrape at a patch of dead skin on my arm. It itches.
I see two cops and a guy in an expensive suit coming down the broken concrete sidewalk that runs like a crumpled, dirty ribbon between the dilapidated brick apartment buildings and patches of dirt, tiny plots that those with healthy imaginations might ironically refer to as yards. The yard in front of our apartment is an 8 by 8 foot patch someone partially filled with gravel at some point and which features a couple of stumps, the bushes long since dead and gone.
Now that they are closer, I can tell that the guy wearing the suit is our landlord. I feel myself instantly get tense. Seeing the landlord here is always a bad sign. He is oblivious to his reputation and even waves at me. I scowl back.
The trio is going up the walk to Mrs. Pauley’s apartment. Her husband was like a grandfather to me and many of the boys in this neighborhood, but he died a few months ago. He had a small collection of old records, and he used to play them on his old record player and tell us all stories on his stoop. Ask him anything about the Blues, and he could tell you a funny story. He was real good at fixing stuff too. Helped me fix the toilet when it wouldn’t stop running and I was afraid mom was going to skin me. I miss him.
Mrs. Pauley moves real slow, but she finally answers the door. The landlord hands her an envelope. I’ve seen that miserable letter before, handed to other neighbors that lost jobs and such, and know what it means. She’s getting thrown out. She’s shaking. I assume she is crying. I wonder what will happen to her now. She has her own boys. Maybe one of them will take her in. At least one of them lives nearby, I think. I’ve seen him visit once or twice since Mr. Pauley died.
My stomach doesn’t feel right. I think I need to go back inside. Maybe I can find a little something to eat after I make sure everyone else has had some. I think I will ask around to see if I can’t get a job and help mom out. We don’t need to be evicted too.
Copyright © 2014 Eric Schweitz