Alive and Dead in Indiana

Alive and Dead in Indiana by Michael Martone Read Free Book Online

Book: Alive and Dead in Indiana by Michael Martone Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael Martone
Tags: Alive and Dead in Indiana
turns into Spy Run by the bridge. We go by the fort, all dark of course, except for the lights of the cars playing along the walls, and the guys all kid me. One night, they’ll break in, and it will be trouble for me. Maybe T.P. the whole place. They’ll leave my name in red paint on the walls.
    We head north by Penguin Point, with the trash cans shaped like penguins, and then run along the bike path on the bank of the St. Joe. We cross State and off to the right is North Side across the river. The ventilating scoops all swiveling like weather vanes left and right. That’s another thing we can never figure out, how those scoops are all pointed in different directions in the same breeze. Spy Run bears down on the Old Crown Brewery, dead ahead, but turns sharp left to meet up again with Clinton. Mr. Centlivre is all lit up on the building’s roof. His foot is planted on a keg like a big game hunter. We start talking about going to Ohio. But we never do.
    On weeknights I keep score for my dad’s softball team. I fill up the frames with little red diamonds. They’re winners. It’s fast pitch. They have uniforms and everything. When the ball gets by the catcher and no one’s on base, he throws it to the third baseman, who always plays in. The third baseman relays it back to the pitcher, a windmiller, his ball jumping over the plate. They’re sharp. I call out the lineups. On deck, in the hole.
    They all ask about the fort and tell me how they mean to come by.
    They work during the day, and on vacation they usually go away. I tell them there is plenty to see right here in town. But they know I am kidding.
    I like the plinking sound of the aluminum bats. I like to see the white ball go bouncing beyond the lights out into the high grass of Hamilton Park, a grown man chasing after it like a kid.
    I warm Dad up before the game, taking one step back after two throws. He’s always very deliberate, pretending to throw after he throws. He tells himself what he’s doing wrong. I can hear snatches of it. I’m all encouragements. When he’s not in the field but swinging the lead bat, I hold his glove to keep it off the ground, make sure there’s a ball inside to keep the pocket.
    Dad takes some of us from the fort to the various parades and festivals where we’ve been appearing. We go all over this part of Indiana. Mom comes along to help with the maps and to look over the handicrafts. They won’t accept mileage. We’re all in the backseats of the station wagon in full-dress uniforms. Shakos, crossing white belts, bayonets in the scabbards. The muskets are up on the luggage rack. Mom always says, “I bet the wool is itchy.”
    We don’t look very smart since our clothes are authentic and handmade. You’d expect more. But we do all right in the parades, staying in step and following orders. We fire off a salute at least once.
    Dad works for Rea Magnet Wire and worries about the way the car smells. As long as I can remember, his cars have smelled of copper and the enamels. He even smells that way when I get close enough to him. It’s like something you were trying to melt in a pan, chocolate or butter, was just starting to burn instead.
    He hangs little green paper Christmas trees from the rearview mirror, but they don’t do any good. Mom asks why draw attention to it by trying to cover it up. I don’t think the people from the fort notice—or if they do, they get used to it like we all do. They’re nervous about the parade and how they look.
    All summer I have been thinking about my chemistry problem. I’ll be taking third-year chem in the fall. I’ve liked chem since the first class. It’s the teacher, I think, and because I have a knack for it. My senior year will be organic and a special project. I’ve known what I wanted to do for a long time, ever since Mr. Dvorak showed us the clock reaction in an early lecture.
    A clock reaction is close to magic.
    The stuff in the beaker changes colors all by itself.

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