I have a thing about railroad crossings. I like them. Once, I sat parked at one for twelve minutes, watching freight car after freight car in the dark.
In my passenger seat: a woman in her thirties, Mexican, ninety-five pounds sopping wet. Her children mixed—looking more black than latino. Her oldest kept asking me, “You gonna stay for cena?”
The other boy chimed in. And pretty soon, they were threatening suicide if the seventeen-year-old with red hair didn't stay for supper.
Hers was a bad neighborhood; the area had gone to pot. It might've been nice once-upon-a-time, but the front porches had bars on the windows.
I sat in her
den while she, her aunt, and her cousin cooked.
Her boys showed me their toys—different-colored blocks of wood. They were building a city. The youngest was King Kong, smashing the metropolis to pieces. A stray block hit his brother on the lip. That did it.
King Kong died, right there.
Supper was Hamburger Helper. Not the good kind, but the cheap, off-brand variety. I've eaten expired hog livers that tasted better. Her sons went back for seconds. King Kong led the charge.
I helped with dishes. It was a manual…