“I am ashamed to own them. You must understand that. And yet, to own them and not acknowledge them is even worse. That’s why I need you.”
In the summer, your father starts taking in the strays. First come Pete and Jane. They’re from Texarcana and they’re spending a week at the El San Juan Hotel. When they walk into the Trolley, they sit next to your father.
“This is paradise,” Pete says. He lifts his drink. “You, my friend, have got it made.” He’s got a Navy pension and a scar like a monorail around his neck.
1. IN WHICH MY TRUE HEAD MAKES AN APPEARANCE
I. Living It
She was wiping the counter down for closing when he came and seated himself on a stool, asking for pie and coffee. There was nothing special about that, nothing special about him. He was in working clothes, a heavy cloth jacket, gray to begin with, and blackened now at the elbows and cuffs. He didn’t look especially clean, but what man did after manual work? He smiled at her, asking her what was good.
“Pretty much all,” she said. “The coconut cream is the freshest.”
Anna is in the orchard wearing a sleeveless housecoat, lifting a stone from the Roman road discovered a few feet away. It was unearthed a week ago during the gas line extension to Taranto. The stone fits a low wall in the garden she’s planted with nightshades—eggplant, tomatoes, firecracker red peperoncini hot peppers whose oil is drizzled over warm waxy potatoes.
“I’m gonna kill you,” Gina says in my ear as our camp counselor, Eunice, shows us around. “Tonight, in your sleep. If I haven’t killed myself first.”
I shrug Gina off. “It’s one week. We’ll survive.”
In memory of Chinua Achebe 1930-2013
Aupres de toi j’ai retrouvé mon nom.