Friday, February 7, 2014
Discarded parts to projects long forgotten; a broken dryer with no door; a lawnmower turned on its side, the blade dull, rusty, and loose, up on sawhorses as though left midway through repairs, just awaiting the return of someone to finish it, someone who isn’t coming; and canvas bags filled with baseball gear: scratched helmets and worn leather mitts, stained with oil, crammed in against metal bats with nicked paint and taped grips—this was the scene that Travis and Sarah saw as they pushed open the garage door and flipped on the overhead light that blinked to life slowly. Particles of dust danced in the light, and the overwhelming stench of old hit them as they crossed the threshold, out of the blazing sun and into the cool dimness of the garage. Travis cursed under his breath. Old dust, old dirt, old mold, old gasoline, all of it preserved in the shade of the small, old garage, cool and musty, and as far as Travis was concerned, all of it useless.
“At least it's cool in here,” Sarah said as she and her brother took in the clutter that had been relegated to the garage where, as children, they had watched their father tinker with projects never finished. He had tinkered away most of his free time when Sarah and Travis were younger, spending most of his free time out away from his family, isolating himself with cigarettes, beer, and a small radio that played the old jazz he had so loved and longed to imitate. But the tinkering had tapered off in recent years, the last ten years or so seeing their father too weak to devote time to fixing items that were not necessary. The last project had been the lawnmower, although Albert had not cut his own lawn for several years; still, he had insisted on working on the lawnmower when it started acting up—coughing, wheezing, stalling. He hadn’t finished it. And the remnants of that unfinished project epitomized so much of what the siblings saw as they looked around: started with the best of intentions, so much of life lies incomplete after it’s all over.
“Where to start,” Sarah muttered, looking at everything to map a course of action with her eyes, to mentally sort through what was there, what needed to be salvaged, sold, or thrown away. Her eyes locked on three large garbage bags, all lumpy and stuffed in the corner nearest the automatic door on the opposite end of the concrete floor, which was stained with splotches of oil, paint, and other indeterminate blots .
“The first thing we have to do is air this place out,” answered Travis. He pressed the button above the light switch, the blue one shaped like a small rectangular house. The automated door stayed lowered with not so much as a turn of the metallic gears overhead. He pushed it again; again, nothing. Pushed again; again, nothing. He pushed it again a final time before walking toward the heavy door that refused to budge, fighting the urge to smash the overhead box with the heaviest object he could find. It was another of his father’s unfinished projects, he supposed. “Does this thing not work?” he asked, rising on his toes to press the reset switch. Again he was met with nothing: no sounds, no beeps, no whistles, nothing to indicate anything worked. The door still didn’t lift as he mashed the button above the light switch again and again, grumbling curses under his breath. “There’s a handle on the outside, right?” he asked. It was the second of his questions to go unanswered. He turned to look at Sarah but saw that in the time he had fought with the door, she turned her attention to the outside of the garage, where she stood with her hands on her hips. “I was talking to you, you know,” Travis said as he approached.
“What?” she asked, finally looking at him. It was as though he’d drawn her from a dream world as she looked around, almost as if to orient herself. “What’d you want?” He’d yet to answer her when he gaze returned to the far corner of the fenced-in yard, an area wedged between the fencing and the garage. He knew immediately what she was looking at, for it was there they had buried Chipper when they were little, the first death either of them had experienced. Travis had been six, his sister four, when the dog had run out in front of a car while chasing a ball that had sailed over Albert’s head. Their father had tried to grab the dog as he ran past, yelling for it to stop, but it was no use, his calls coming too late. Sarah looked away but Travis just stared, stupefied, as the tires from the car squealed to a halt in the road, the body of their toy poodle pressed under a front tire. Their father had dug a shallow grave and placed the limp poodle in it, quickly covering the body with dirt to keep his children from staring too long at it.
“I was trying to get the garage door to open, and I asked if it worked. The answer is no, apparently. The damn thing won’t budge.” He noticed his sister was smiling now as she stared where once had stood a cross painted with yellow and pink flowers, the grave ornament they had made for Chipper, even leaving flowers for a while. “I’ll go around and see if I can get it to open from the outside.” He turned to make his way down the yard and around the garage, but stopped and watched her for a minute. “What are you staring at?”
She pointed at the corner. “There’s where Dad buried Chipper when we were little. Silly dog.”
“Yeah, I know,” he answered, “but I don’t imagine he’s going to come up and help us anytime soon.”
Sarah didn’t respond to the comment, but shot Travis a hard look. “Do you remember why Dad chose that spot to bury him?”
“Cause it was out of the way.”
She shook her head. “Cause that was where he tried to grow that little garden when we were little. They tried to grow…” She rubbed her temples slowly, as if trying to rejuvenate the flow of memories. “Pumpkins, tomatoes… tomatoes… What else did he grow besides pumpkins and tomatoes?” She bit her lips softly, driving her front teeth into the soft flesh and laughed, a habit she had when anxious, one that developed in childhood. It seemed that whatever answer she was looking for never came. “Anyway, everything failed miserably, so Dad went out and dug everything up, trashed it, and then when Chipper died, he put him there because the ground was already soft and tilled from the plants. It was less work that way. And he even joked that after he’d failed so miserably at the garden, it would be nice to put something that there that would do what it was supposed to.” When she finished her story and looked back for her brother’s reaction, he was gone.
Travis hadn’t the time for his sister’s nostalgic musings. His stay was nearly over and still they had much to do and clean and dispose of before his return up North for work, where his life would return to normal, back to the infrequency of visits home that, now with both their mother and father gone, would likely taper off to nonexistence, replaced by phone calls that served as the beginning and ending of any sort of familial relationship among the remaining elements of his family. Now one fewer, he thought, since his father’s passing, and most of the rest of them didn’t truly matter—aunts, uncles, and cousins he’d barely recognized at the funeral; in fact, several times Sarah had had to nudge him in the ribs and whisper peoples’ names as they approached, an effort to save them all form an embarrassing situation in a place it was needed least.
But for now he was standing at the back of his childhood garage trying to pry his too-fat fingers under the door with no handle—no luck. He straightened from his hunched position, age sending a burning crackle through his knees, and cursed his having now to find something with which to pry open the door. With his luck, he thought to himself, anything of his father’s that could serve as a wedge would be sharp and rife with tetanus, given the state of decay that permeated the old man’s belongings. He figured he’d likely get lockjaw and find his stay prolonged in the form of a lengthy hospital visit.
Sarah had returned to the inside of the garage by the time Travis entered, telling her to help him find a crowbar. She straightened from the bent position she had adopted while rifling through the garbage bags she had spotted earlier and began lifting items from the first bag: clothes, all them clothes— and from the lumpy shape of the other two bags, she suspected they were filled the same—baby clothes, toddler clothes, baseball and basketball jerseys; their father’s sport coats and mother’s sweaters; all of them crammed inside the bag without regard to organization, a likely sign that the other two bags were as haphazardly packed. There was nothing to tie the pieces together, no reason for their being there, other than that they were old, musty, and useless.
“Help me find a crowbar,” Travis said as he began looking through the tools littered across various benches and tables. “And why are you getting all that junk out? We’re supposed to be cleaning this place out, not contributing to the mess.”
“But look at this,” she said. “It’s so cute. I’ve seen pictures of you in it when you were a baby.” It was true. There were several pictures of him in the baseball onesie, as his old man had once dreamed of playing professional baseball, a dream that he had been determined to pass on to his son, and his mother had been an avid picture taker; not a photographer by any means, for her pictures lacked the focus, artistry, detail, or precision to be considered art; they were merely snapshots of life taken rapidly, as if the goal were to document as many of the fleeting seconds as she could: pictures of birthday parties and Christmas celebrations where people’s heads were cut out of the frame, Travis playing baseball, his sister playing soccer, baptisms, and formal dances.
“And,” she continued, “we decided to organize and sort this stuff first, then decide what to get rid of. We can’t just start pitching stuff right away. We may want to keep some of this stuff.”
“I doubt it,” Travis answered. “I’ve gotten along fine without all this for this long, so I think I’ll be fine another forty years.” He continued to rummage through the piles of discarded tools, all covered in rust or paint or varnish, stacked on the workbench, hung on the hooks from the pegboard on the wall nearest the door, or crammed and overflowing in a toolbox that had long ago lost its lid. Other tools had been stashed in makeshift cubbyholes and drawers, stacked atop several half-empty boxes of rusted screws, their contents spilled so that they rolled each time a drawer was open. There were screwdrivers, Philips and flatheads, multiple ones of varying lengths; there were hammers, some with wooden handles, some wrapped in tape, still others with rubber grips; there were levels; there were drills and bits and an array of heads, and nuts, and bolts; there was a circular saw, two handsaws, and a jigsaw—more tools than the old man could ever have needed, all accumulated through a lifetime of tinkering, each stained, in some way or another, by the work they’d been called upon to do, and far from the pristine condition in which they had been purchased. The larger tools had the old man’s initials—AF, for Albert Frances—burned into them. But there was no crowbar that Travis could see.
“All this crap but not the thing we need,” said Travis, kicking away some paint cans that were stacked under the worktable; and there it was, nearly hidden under but revealed by the clanging cans. He grumbled about their father’s disorganization as he scooped the rusted crowbar into his hands and made his way back into the steadily rising heat of the day, the Appalachian humidity making his clothes begin to cling to his skin.
The wedge of the crowbar, rusted and chipped, slid with much effort under the lip of the door, with Travis finagling and twisting and turning to the cool metal until the door lifted ever so slightly, just enough for him to squat and slide his fingers into the gap and lift, the door slowly rolling back out of view as he stood and pushed. He dropped the crowbar into the grass and wiped his hands on his shorts. As he walked back into the garage, he noticed Sarah’s attention had been turned to a collection of photographs she’d found in a shoebox. Travis reluctantly accepted her beckoning him over to look at them so they could revel in the memories spurred by the photos of them as toddlers playing in a sprinkler, or of them at Christmas holding up the presents they’d just opened, each of them with a smile spread across their face. He glanced over her shoulder at a couple of pictures, murmured some snide comment about his head being cut out of the frame, and quickly returned to work, dragging a small plastic swing set and slide out of the cobwebbed corner and out into the alleyway.
That is how they spent most of the day: Travis hurrying to arrange, organize and discard, Sarah reminiscing and holding objects affectionately, almost cradling them, each of them some small part of a puzzle that, when put together, formed the lives they had lived a lifetime ago.
“I’ve never understood yard sales,” Travis said as he loaded a refrigerator onto a dolly and wheeled it to the edge of the garage. “We spend years, entire lifetimes, accumulating things we think we find important, only to set it out one day on tables out in front of houses and let complete strangers rifle through the shit we claim to no longer need.”
The objects they had sorted through were beginning to take the form of three distinct piles: one for items they, mainly Sarah, would keep; another for items they would try to sale; and the final for items to be discarded, some of which were already stuffed into large black bags, several of which were already full and tied at the top—closed to further inspection unless ripped apart. Travis deposited the fridge in the pile of items they hoped would sale. Anything that failed to sale would be donated to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, should neither Sarah nor her brother decide at the last minute to keep it. Travis assured her he would not. It was that pile, the pile comprised of items they hoped to pawn off on others, that held the most items: tools, old records and cassette tapes, a VCR, an old phonograph player. Travis would have liked to see it be ever larger, but his sister insisted on keeping several old items, which no one would have probably purchased anyway—sports jerseys; decorations that were aged and tacky and other tchotchkes, remnants of bygone days, just tucked away as though waiting for an excuse to be brought forth, that reason seemingly having been found through decorating Sarah’s modest apartment.
The third pile was comprised largely of a combination of garbage and stuff they were convinced no one would ever want: old newspaper clippings of people long since dead, magazines that were moth-eaten and yellowing, included among them Parade and Time, and clothes that had been tattered and torn.
Travis heard the pickup truck rumbling down the alleyway before he saw it, the muffler coughing and spitting as the axels squeaked over the dips and holes in the gravel. Just hearing it coming, he could already envision what it would look like: an older model in need of much repair: a rusted out body, parts likely eaten through with holes; likely large spider-web cracks in the windshield; and a gun rack, likely full, in the back window. He stopped working and stood at the edge of the garage and watched the truck approach. His guess wasn’t far from wrong, though the body was in better shape than he had expected. There was more paint left than he would have guessed there would be, but spots were eaten through with rust, and the muffler groaned louder the closer they got. Two people rode in the front, both men reaching the backend of middle age. One was shirtless, covered in poorly drawn tattoos, while the other wore a sleeveless undershirt that appeared to be stained with grease. Another man rode in the back, his mesh hat turned backward, a flannel shirt tied around his waist, and sat amidst scraps of metal. He was younger than the other two, maybe about Travis’s age. The truck slowed as they approached where Travis stood, and Travis could feel their eyes upon him as they passed. He returned to work, moving more items from the garage to their proper pile as the truck continued down the alley, but it was only seconds before he heard them turn around and head back from the way they had come.
His back was turn when the first man spoke. “You-uns gettin shit a that stuff?” called the voice from the passenger seat.
Travis turned and faced the truck. “I’m sorry,” he called. “What?”
The man in the back of the truck motioned toward the items in the refrigerator pile, a pile that also included a small green fan with a metal blade and a rusted old toolbox. “That stuff there. Are ya’ll gettin shit of it?”
Travis was still trying to decipher what each of the men had said when Sarah came from within the darkened garage out into the sunlight and answered them. “Yes,” she said. “Yes, we are.” Looking at the items, wiping the sweat from her brow, and she quickly added, “Feel free to take it.”
“Wait, what?” Travis said, realizing what was being discussed between the group. “What do mean, take it?” he asked. “Come here.” He took Sarah by the arm and directed her back into the garage, into the darkest recesses where the sunlight wouldn’t reach and only the dim overhead bulb provided scant lighting. “You’re going to charge them for that, right?”
“Of course not.”
“What do you mean ‘of course not?’” Travis asked. He could feel an annoyance that had been present since they’d begun working edging higher and hotter within him. “We could sale that at the yard sale and get some money.”
“Really?” she challenged. “Come on, look at that stuff. No one is going to buy that. The fridge hasn’t worked in years, the fan is a safety hazard, and that tool box is so eaten through with rust that I’d feel guilty if I let anyone even think about buying it.”
“So what the hell are these guys going to do with it?”
“This is what they do: they drive around alleyways, looking for metal people are throwing out, pick it up, and take it to one of the places in town that buys scrap metal.”
“They get money for it?! And you want to give it to them?! For free!”
“They don’t get much. And if we keep it and it doesn’t sale, which I can’t imagine it will, we’ll be stuck having to truck it to one of these scrap metal places ourselves. I don’t have a truck, and I know you don’t. It’s just easier to let them take it.”
Neither said anything for a few moments, and Sarah took Travis’s silence for agreement. She made her way back to the truck that sat idle on the gravel, and as Travis watched the three men picked through the yard sale pile and loaded up bits of his childhood to be sold as scrap metal, which was at least get more use out of them that he had given them in years.
They sat at the kitchen table later that evening, just as the sun was dipping below the horizon, painting the skies a beautiful mélange of oranges and yellows. It was the time of evening that their father had always enjoyed most, when he would sit on the porch and smoke a pipe, read the evening paper, back when the paper still ran two editions through the week, and tell stories when his family would sit with him. When Travis had been little, he had longed for the end of the day to come, when he could crawl onto his father lap, wrapped in the warm scent of Irish cream tobacco, and listen to his father tell stories from his childhood, most of them true.
“My favorite,” Sarah said, “was the story he told of Walt Cunningham and the time they tried to steal candy from Walt’s grandpa’s shop. They crept around the store, trying to hide behind displays and poles whenever the grandfather would look in their direction, never thinking that the poles had large mirrors atop them. I think Daddy always said they were only seven or eight, and they would creep around trying to avoid being seen, and it was Dad who finally noticed the old man had wandered from his post. That was when they started to make their move to swipe as many suckers as they could, but just before they could move, they heard a voice behind them. ‘What you need if you’re going to steal candy,’ said the voice, ‘is a distraction.’ Both boys nearly jumped out of their skins before turning around to see Walt’s grandfather crouched down behind them, ready to go with them to swipe his own candy.”
Travis looked up from his wine and pizza. “Why that one?”
“I don’t know,” Sarah answered, finishing of her glass of wine. “I think it’s because by the time we knew him, he was old, even when he wasn’t. He was old and working, but life had worn him down so much. Sure he would play ball with us or Monopoly some nights, but there was always something that ate away at him.” She shrugged, her auburn hair cascading over her upraised shoulders. “Of course, we didn’t see it at the time. How could we? We were so young. But now that I’m older, I look back and see how much he did, how much he struggled and gave up.”
Travis chuckled. He had never thought of his father in that way. In fact, prior to the old man’s death, he hadn’t thought of him much in recent years. He would make it home for Christmas whenever he could, but New York to southern Ohio was a long drive for just a couple days, so the trips became less and less frequent. Sure, there were phone conversations, but they were limited, conducted almost in code, where each of the men would ask how the other was doing, and then listen to the lies they had cultivated over the years, each knowing some truth was being ignored, and yet ignoring that fact as they talked about the weather, work, a recent television program both had possibly seen, though Travis always thought his father was improvising his way through. Grasping at any bit of conversation that would keep his son on the phone for just a few moments longer when all Travis wanted to do was get back to whatever it was he had been doing before his father called.
“He was devastated when you left, you know,” said Sarah, offering the phrase Travis had expected to be leveled since he had driven down three days earlier. “He wanted so badly for you to follow in the family business. It crushed him when you moved north.”
Her brother scoffed. “The family business? Sorry if my aspirations in life went far beyond running some second-rate spaghetti house whose claim to fame is that John Kennedy ate there once in 1960.” Travis laughed as he took another bite of his pizza. “I see the new owners kept the pizza sauce the same. Still sweet as ever.”
“It was in the contract,” Sarah answered.
“Swear to God. Dad wouldn’t sell to anyone who wouldn’t agree, in writing, to keep all the recipes the same. And keep me on as manager.” She paused and smiled. “Always looking out for me.”
“The new owners okay to work for?”
“I’d hardly call them new anymore. They’ve owned Archie’s for nearly ten years now.”
Travis sat silent, letting that number sink in— Ten years. A decade. It didn’t seem possible that it had been that long since his father had sold the place; that made it nearly fifteen years since he had left home and moved to New York to pursue work as a writer, only to end up working at an ad agency, falling back on the college degree he had sworn never to use.
“That was the one thing Dad actually stuck with and finished,” Travis offered. “All that,” he said, motioning toward the garage, “now that’s another story. My God, I’ve never seen so much stuff to sort through, so many parts of a life just scattered around, collecting dust. Just waiting for someone to do something with them. But at least it’s ready to go.” He reached for another slice of Archie’s pizza—The Best in Town boasted the box—and refilled his wine glass. “You sure you can handle the yard sale by yourself?” he asked.
“Yes, Travis, I’ve managed a restaurant since I was seventeen. I’m fairly certain I can handle a yard sale.” There was an uncomfortable pause before she continued with a sigh. “Are you sure you can’t stay a few days longer? Aunty Betty was saying at the funeral how wonderful it was to see you. Even Reverend Billings said what a pleasure it was to have you back home.”
Travis shook his head. “I have to get back. I have work to do. Jessica couldn’t even come with me because we had so much work piling up. I’m sorry, I just can’t.”
“So how are things with Jessica?”
“Fine,” he responded and kept eating.
“Come one, what kind of answer is that? Whenever we talk, that’s all you say. Things are fine. I mean, you’ve been together, what, two years? Are you talking about marriage? Kids?”
“We’ve talked about it. I don’t know; we’ll see what happens. What about you? You’ve not mentioned a boyfriend since Mark left.”
“Between working, helping with Dad, and raising Brandon, the last thing I’ve thought about is a serious relationship.” Both knew that was the end of the conversation, as it was so often on the rare occasions they had spoken in recent years.
Travis checked his watch; it was nearly eight o’clock, too early to go to bed and yet too late and dark to work any further. He glanced around the kitchen: outdated calendars, cooking ware, and collectibles that lined the shelves above the cabinets met his view, and he dreaded the coming days when his return would find him and his sister cleaning out the house. “So the house is next, right?” Sarah nodded in response. “I can be back in a few weeks to work on it.”
“I’ll work on it while you’re gone.”
“We’re splitting everything, right? I mean, the money for what we sell, right?”
“After we pay of the rest of the medical bills, yeah. I don’t know how much there will be left. There wasn’t a will, necessarily. Dad tore up the only one after Mom died and never bothered to write a new one. He always talked about it though. Figured we’d just take what we wanted, sell the rest, and split the money.”
Travis pushed back from the table and stood up. “It’s a long drive back to the City in the morning. I’m going to turn in.” He hugged Sarah as he made his way past her, looping one arm around her shoulders in a half-hug that found her head awkwardly against his chest. He kissed the top of her head. “Get some sleep.”
She held his arm against her for a second before speaking. “He’d be glad you came.”
She felt him let go and heard him make his way through the hallway and up the stairs to the bedroom he had occupied so many years ago. She listened while staring at the red that stained her glass as the door to the room directly over the kitchen closed. It was then, for the first time since the funeral, she cried, pulling her feet up into the seat and hugging her legs against her chest, the tears cutting through the dirt and grime that had gathered on her cheeks.
Sarah was back at the house and sitting at the table eating a bowl of cereal when Travis came down the stairs, his suitcase in hand, and leaned against the doorframe. She glanced up from her coffee, but it wasn’t Travis who caught her attention but what he held in his hand. “I’m going to take this,” he said. The clarinet wasn’t in the best of shape, and the case had long since been lost, but it was the one remnant from a past life that Travis was willing to take back with him to the new life he had cultivated without his family, so far removed from childhood.
“You still play?” Sarah asked.
“Haven’t played in years,” her brother responded. “I sold mine when I first moved to New York. I needed the money, not that I would have probably used it anyway. Jessica isn’t exactly a jazz fan. She probably doesn’t even know who Artie Shaw was.”
“That was the one thing you and Dad had in common,” Sarah offered, as though he needed reminded that jazz—old jazz—had been the bond that had served as a common interest between father and son. They would spend hours listening to Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and Bob Crosby when Travis had been a child, and on certain occasions Travis would sit in with his father’s band, The Bruschetta Boppers, named as such although they played a softer, earlier jazz in the style of Shaw and Goodman, when he was learning his instrument. Those nights had been magical, nights of which Travis had not thought in ages, and nights that would have likely stayed locked away in the recesses of his mind had he not stumbled upon his father’s old clarinet the night before.
“Are the Boppers still together?”
“Every Friday night. Charlie Goodman is still with them; so is Harry Stinson. All the other guys are new; some come and go. Members sort of revolve depending on who is doing what.”
Travis looked around the house. There was much work left to do, so much that needed to be cleaned and sorted, organized, to squared away in some manner that made sense and could be lived with. It hadn’t changed much in the years since he had been gone, though there seemed to be more stuff accumulated and tucked away in various nooks and crannies of the house than there had been, and Travis wondered how much of it was like that which they had found in the garage: purchased, collected, handled with the best of intentions only to be discarded when something newer or better came along, or when the job proved too difficult or too time-consuming, or when the old man had simply lost interest in whatever it was he had been working on at the time.
“It might be nice to see them play again.”
“You could stay.”
“No,” he answered. “I have to get back. There’s so much to do.”
“There’s always so much to do. Look at this place—Dad always tried to do so much, between the restaurant and handiwork, taking care of the family, that so many things were started and never finished, touched but never fully used.” And then she paused and asked the question that she had been holding in since Travis had first mentioned leaving the night before. “Why wasn’t home good enough? You left the first chance you got.”
Travis fiddled with the clarinet in his hand before answering. “I didn’t want to work in a spaghetti house all my life, playing jazz for local customers in a Friday night after the high school football game, a game that people who graduated twenty years before still talk about as though they were out on that field, still in the student section cheering like they were seventeen again. And some of them, for those two hours—well, some of them still are. And I had dreams of something so much better.” And as he answered, he wondered to what extent those dreams had come true, to what extent he was living the dream he had had when he set out on his own, one that had gnawed at him even before he got the chance to try it. “I didn’t want to leave a life like what’s outside, cluttered remnants of something bygone and unfinished, left for someone else to parse through, to try to make sense of after I died. I wanted a life of something so much more than puzzling housecleaning.”
She could tell by the way he shifted his weight that he was about to leave. “Be careful driving back.”
“I will. Give Brandon a hug for me, okay?”
She nodded before rising to hug him. They embraced, each knowing that his next trip would likely be his last, and that their already limited contact would be diminished even more with the passing of their father, the only true bond that had connected them in recent years. Travis kissed her on the forehead and turned to leave. He stopped at the doorway, taking one last look at what awaited him on his return trip in a few weeks.
“Maybe next time I come down I’ll try to catch the Boppers. It might be nice to see them after all these years. Do people still dance out on the floor?”
“Yep. Most of them are older folks, some of whom actually grew up with the music. Occasionally some of the younger customers will get into it. I think the high school kids do it because they think it’s cool to be nostalgic for a time they never knew. But it’s fun,” Sarah answered. “It’s a good time for a small town Friday night.”
Travis smiled. “You really like it here don’t you?”
“I love it. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet, the people are good and nice. Maybe it’s corny and hokey, but it’s home.” She shrugged. “It’s where I belong.”
“Well, if you ever decide to visit, Jessica and I have a couch in a small, cramped apartment, and we’d love to have you.”
“We’ll talk about next time you come home.”
“Okay. Take care.”
“You’ll be back in a couple weeks, right?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’ll call you when I figure out what my schedule is like. I should be able to make it in two or three weeks.” He kissed her on the forehead again before getting into his car. He waived as he drove away, and both wondered if he would actually be back, for housecleaning is grueling, exhausting work, as more and more remnants are swept away.