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Wandering Souls-10

October 8, 2013

     As he now dragged himself through life, right side tagging he left like the dead brother of a Siamese twin, using the cane to pry his hulk another step, Dewey himself knowing more than he had before, communicating with his surroundings and the people
in it with an alacrity he hadn’t dreamed possible.  He felt, now, that if he could only watch someone walk fifty feet, he could know their history from their stance and stride.  He could read despair in a man five hundred yards away just by the set of his shoulders.  He could tell when he passed through a streetlight’s thin shadow by the change of temperature and in the same way, he could tell, standing under a tree, whether or not it was in leaf.  He could sense things by their mass through a wall, though he was still learning to distinguish whether it was a refrigerator on the other side or a bookshelf or a file cabinet. He could feel people’s through walls or across the street on a dark night or around the corner, sense somehow their heat and mass in the world as if they were planets and he a satellite snagged b their gravitational pull.  All his senses seemed to have been magnified and in the cracking of a peanut he could hear the individual breaking of every layer in the shell and each fiber of every layer and of the very molecules being pulled apart.  He could feel night thickening the air at sunset and light blending it brighter again in the morning.  He could smell tears and hear flowers move.  He could see, in the shadows under a man’s eyes, how his children were doing.  He could taste the suspense of a woman on the curb gauging traffic, the sharp
sweetness of her hesitation the second before casting her foot and then her body into the street.
     Not loud, but very distinct.  No mistaking the lady’s voice, even on the street in blowing Kansas, oak limbs thrashing overhead, the wind coming hard from Nebraska.  Dewey, leaning on his new cane and into the weather, heard his name called and turned to follow the sound down the 800 block north of Lawrence Avenue, an old street with small, inefficient two story apartment buildings side by side from one corner to the other, five houses on the west side of the street.  Three of them occupied and in relatively good repair.  Two vacant, boarded up, losing to time and erosion.  All the browning grass, even around the abandoned buildings, was mowed.
     Lawrence Avenue separated the black neighborhoods of the city from the rest.  It was referred to as the North Side, though it really only included part of the old city’s northwest corner, but these days, with suburbs and subdivisions stretching the city out in sudden and unexpected directions like cells gone cancerous and metastasizing across the plains, the old directional terms were outdated and meant nothing.
     The bird, a little sienna-colored bird flashing out of the evergreen hedge so close Dewey thought he felt feathers dust his hair, stopped him and made him look up and into the lady’s eyes in the South corner of No. 803, Lawrence Avenue.  She was smiling and the starling or sparrow or swift stooped at Dewey’s head making duck.  He looked up again and she was gone.  Then he saw the sign in the yard that said vacancy had the manager’s number.  Dewey searched in his pockets for a paper and pen and said to the world, “All right.  All right.”


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