It is noon in the age of bigwheels and bright orange flags. Steven lives next door. He got a bike yesterday. He's older than the rest of us. On the fourth of July we have races. The whole neighborhood comes out. I have an A-Team bigwheel. Last year I came in second. I cried once when Jeremy shot a bottle rocket at the bullfrog in the pond at the end of the street. It exploded all over us and I just wanted to get it off me.
I lie in bed all day with my eyes open. The humidity presses down gently like a lover who would let go if I asked. I listen to the lawnmowers buzz and sputter. At night I drink whiskey sours with Linda and talk about the men at church. Linda likes Warren, in the choir, but he doesn't pay her much attention. When our conversation goes silent we can hear the bugs and moths getting zapped. Zip zip zap. Zap. Zip zap. My life is quiet and lonely since Gene died. The kids all moved away a few years ago. I think about getting a job but I don't know who on earth would hire me, or for what.
Those motherfuckers are going to pay. I got a right to have that dog. He stays on my property. This is my goddamned house and I can keep what I want in it. Land of the free my ass. Calling the cops just because he got away once. Fucker shot out through my hands when I opened the door. Not my fault that bitch was jogging by. All those reflectors on her shoes and that bright bandana in her hair. Dogs do what they're programmed to do. People don't seem to get that. All these assholes. Want to control everything, make everything all safe and warm. None of them know a damned thing about real life. Giving me shit for doing what I want. They'll fucking pay someday. They will.
It's almost like swimming, this parting of the cornstalks, like we're lost in a sea of brittle brown husks. I reach behind me and grab her hand and pull her closer to me. For a second I think about next month - she far away in a big city by the sea and me still here. Maybe after she leaves I'll be bringing a different girl here. Maybe I'll wait a year or two. Maybe I'll never bring anyone to this spot again. I see a hawk swoop down overhead and splash into the sea of swaying tassles. We emerge from the field and walk into the woods. There is an abandoned quarry down this path and when I was younger I used to go there and catch little lizards and frogs and put them in glass bowls until they smelled up the house and I had to let them go. I squeeze her hand and keep walking. I want to take her to the quarry and just let her go. If I told her that she'd say I was being weird. Sometimes she'll say, "you're so weird." I want to take her to the quarry and walk away and never see her again. I'd like to think that she'd thank me for it, that she'd turn around and nod and say "thank you" and then just keep walking away.