I always want to start these with “You’ll never guess what happened at the library today” or whatever I used to write to start these. Had the same problem yesterday. Anyway.
A friend came and got me out of the house today. Ocean rolled up to the house in an old Pontiac that she had bought in high school when we were juniors. She’d totaled the poor car twice, once hydroplaning off a into a ditch during a rainstorm and once against a tree when another liquid was involved. The old red paint flecked in places and a cloud of black smoke followed it, but it fit in every way.
“Damn thing’s under protest,” I said, watching her get out of the car, the engine knocking like a scared child.
“You leave Polly alone,” she said, patting the hood. We hugged and I picked her up, same way I had for nearly twenty years.
She squealed and hit my arm, “Don’t do that, gonna hurt your back,” she said and looked up at me.
Ocean, real name Kelly Penn nee Wallace, is a bigger girl, broad and stout but that’s not why I called her Ocean. She has the darkest blue eyes I have ever seen, wide and deep that look down into your soul. She stared up at me and smiled and I smiled back.
“So tell me why your husband isn't helping you today?”
“He, unlike some people, has to work,” she said with a grin.
I put a hand to my chest, “That hurt, Ocee. You know I’m lookin.”
“Drinking more like it. Sitting around here all day doing nothing.”
“I’m writing,” I said. Nothing like a friend to call it like they see it.
“I know, Evan, just seems wasteful. Big ole guy like you not moving furniture.”
I drove her into town in Dad’s old pickup to the antique store Tuesday’s, so named because it is only open on a particular day of the week. We loaded up an old marble-top end table and carried it over to Ocean’s house and then back to mine for her car.
“You wanna step in for a beer? Whiskey sour?” I asked.
She shook her head, “Nah, got to go get Daryl’s dinner. Evan, can I ask you a question?”
“Shoot, but I think you just did.”
“Cute. You gonna let them sell the library like that?”
“Who?” I had not heard about anyone selling the building, saw not signs up.
“Just something I heard. City council selling the lot to that church out by the highway, Fellowship something of the Redeeming Whoever,” she said waving a bug out of her face.
I said no, hadn't heard anything. None of my business what they did with the library. Mom did not seem to care, moved away when it closed. Told me to sell the house if I left. All the Banned family clearing out of Banned County.
“Just doesn't seem right,” she said, “That’s what people are saying, anyway. See you later, Evan.”
“Careful getting home, Ocean,” I said and watched her disappear down the road in that horror of a car. Then I went inside and started drinking myself to sleep.