I drove around and checked out the neighborhood. Memories photographed by childhood take on a strong bond when you come back home. The tire lady statue on
It's hard to capture
I was born in this town in 1970. In 1976 we moved to
My brother, Bob, 57, has lived here his whole life. A dedicated bar fighter, drinker and meticulous home owner whose frosty, near mullet, perfectly set hair has been a source of humor, mystery and mild consternation for me, Bob has stayed in the south end while the rest of us scattered. He’s turned his home into what is easily the best place in the south end. Pool, deck, tiki torches and shit. My second oldest brother lives down the street in a half- way house, bitterly called The Mansion. He fell off a ladder at work and shattered his lower leg, which awaits amputation. That and other habits have forced him and many others into the recesses of pockets here. I roll into town once every 5 fucking years, get a taste of Peoria and I take off, so I really can’t say a lot about a lot that goes on in town, except that the older I get the more I like coming here and hanging out with the family. There’s a peace to it now.
There was a birthday party for Bob at The Eagle’s Club. Ages 1-91 hang out there. It’s been part of my visits in
Last night I sat in the backyard over there, next to an ex-sister-in-law. I hadn’t seen in over a decade. She had read my book back in November. I sat next to her.
“Hi, Jeff. Well, you’ve gained weight. But that’s okay, you’re almost 40.”
“Awesome. How you been?”
“Good. I read your book, all in one day. I had to get it back to Bobby.”
“I didn’t know that.”
A long and uncomfortable silence followed us. I looked over at my second oldest brother’s wife, an alcoholic in the first stages of dementia. She’s about to set herself on fire with her cigarette as she fades into a sitting sleep. I go to move toward her but the cigarette falls and she snaps awake, reaches down and picks it back up. I look at Bob and shake my head. He looks at her and smiles off into space. Joy clears her throat. I give in to the game and ask her,
“Did you like the book?”
She looks off and kind of winces. I’m trying not to laugh. I know what she’s going to say before she says it. She says,
“I thought it was great. I mean, I know it’s partly fictional, or I hope it is, but is all of that sex in there really necessary? I mean, what’s the reader really supposed get out of that?”
“I never really gave the matter much thought.” I said.
My niece called me over to the table. I squeezed Joy’s shoulder and sat next to Andrew and Aunie. Last night we’d hit the town and Andrew shot me riding flatland. It was humid and I was sore there in the backyard. It had been the first time I’d ridden in a month or so. Pathetic. My youngest niece from
“Get down, sweetie. You uncle’s hurting.”