Apr 2, 2007

The woody wagon and the empties

The station wagon sat by itself around the side of the building. The rest of the parking lot was Lexuses and Lincolns, sports cars and luxury sedans. The rest of the parking lot was new cars in solid colors and wax jobs. The station wagon was parked by itself in the turn-around next to the dumpster.

The wood-panelling was peeling.

The neighbors noticed. A woman sitting in the sun on the second floor down the row turned her head and looked that way. A mother walking her kids to the corner park and a man walking with his girlfriend to the car noticed, looked and looked away. The maintenance man trolled by in an electric powered golf cart with a set of brooms sticking out where the golf clubs usually go. He trolled by slow and took in the Chevy, the rear window rolled down and the back doors open. He looked at the fuzzy ceiling liner drooping down and held up by pushpins and the belongings all bagged and boxed in the back. The maintenance man turned the cart down the hill and looked back again.

The three new tenants ignored it. The three new tenants were oblivious.

They walked back and forth from the woody wagon to the swinging glass door of building number P. The walked up and down the interior stairs, holding the boxes to their bellies and the bags over their shoulders. The older woman lifted the flip-lock on the sliding glass door and stood out there. She set a wide-mouthed ash tray on the top of the wooden railing painted blue and yelled down to the other two too loud, Hey y'all, you seen how big the closet is? We could keep a kid in there.

She laughed, leaned her head back and opened up her mouth full of cracked teeth and the black hole of her throat and gutterally gurgled at her own joke. The three wore broad-butted shots and tee shirts like tents. The man brought a half a 24 of Bud out of the car. The women pulled a mattress down from the roof rack, balancing the queen-sized on their heads and slipping a little in the pine straw. The man brought up a collection of cups from Taco Bell. A woman carried a Zena box with a picture of a TV and a woman carried clothes in a straining garbage sack. Nobody called it desegregation, but that was how white people came into the apartment complex.

They left the window open, the first night. They left the lights on and they played Elvis and Garth, Hank Williams III and Patsy Cline. They sang along. The old woman and the man danced a couple of stiff steps together in celebration on the carpet and the other woman watched something on TV. They put a trash can on the balcony and from the couch the younger woman tossed an empty beer can underhanded into the barrel. The beer can bounced off both side and crashed down into the empties piled at the bottom.