(A man comes back from prison and finds chaos at his home. He’s taking his children out to do the laundry after going out for breakfast.)
Jeannie wanted to help me put the dirty clothes in the washing machine. Donald wanted to play with one of the kids at the Laundromat. I let them.
We went to the little town restaurant to eat. I knew one of the waitresses from before I went on the run and then prison. She asked me how I was doing and if I was going to go back into business. I told her I didn’t think so.
“Oh, that’s too bad. There hasn’t been a reliable dealer here since you’ve been gone.”
I thought about what she said for a minute but it didn’t seem like a good idea. It had been fun and a good way to make money but prison was one long day at a time. I remembered looking out my cell window in maxi-tier when I first got there. The leaves were just starting to tinge with colour in the late August air of New England and I knew that I would be looking out at the leaves changing next year from the same building. My stomach felt funny with the memory and I pulled myself back to the table.
“I’m all done with the business.”
She smiled and nodded as I told her what we wanted to eat.
After breakfast we put the clothes in the dryer and walked around town. I met some other people I knew and chatted with them while Jeannie and Donald played with a couple of other kids. They asked me if I was going to go back into business.
“No,” was what I said.
They asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint. I told them I didn’t get high anymore.
“Oh,” was what they said. And they smoked the joint while we talked.
We went back to the laundry and pulled the clothes from the dryer. I taught Jeannie how to fold the clothes. She really got into it. Donald wanted to help. Jeannie said, “Let me teach him.”
Donald seemed to like that idea and that’s the way it went. Jeannie treated Donald as if she was his mother. Thinking about Cress, I decided that it was no surprise that things were like that. On the way home I bought cleaning supplies and stuffed them into the wagon.
I started with the children’s bedroom first. I pulled the dog-crap-encrusted rug out of the room and put it out by the garbage bin. I stripped their beds completely and dragged the mattresses outside to air in the sun.
Cress was visiting with a male friend. I asked them if they could help clean.
“Buy us some beer and we will,” she said.
“This is your place, not mine, I said.
“Yeah,” she said, and her male friend grinned.
I bought them the beer and they cleaned one room. Then they disappeared into the bedroom.
I tied the dogs outside. Jeannie played with the kitten on the front lawn. I came back into the apartment and lifted one of the garbage bags off of the living room floor. There were white maggots squirming on the floor under the bag. My throat felt funny and I carried the bag outside to the bin.
There were maggots all over the place under the bags. I counted the bags as I carried them out. Seventeen in all. I sprinkled soap powder on the maggots and mopped them up. I could hear Cress and her friend in the bedroom as I worked. Jeannie came in and asked where mommy was. I told her that I would take them out for lunch and ice cream as soon as I was done mopping the floor and that mommy was busy right now. She had the kitten in her hands. The dog was barking. I mopped the floor. The bed was creaking in the bedroom.
If the electric was working, I would have played the radio.
The dirty dishes spilled out of the sink onto the drain-board. Small bugs crept on the dishes. I figured they could wait until after lunch and ice cream. Jeannie was playing in the front yard and Donald was sitting on the couch picking his nose and thumbing through a coloring book.
“Are you guys ready to go?” I asked.
They nodded and then Cress and her friend came out of the bedroom.
“Are you going to invite their mother?” Cress asked.
“No,” I said.
“See how he is,” she said to her friend. “Prison didn’t change him.”
They laughed and clicked their beers together. I was glad I didn’t have a gun.
(To Be Continued )