I Can Hear the Mourning Dove

I Can Hear the Mourning Dove by James Bennett Read Free Book Online

Book: I Can Hear the Mourning Dove by James Bennett Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Bennett
you, Grace; I really don’t.”
    â€œI know.” I’m gulping air.
    â€œShopping for something new can be a real pick-me-up if you could only loosen up. Besides, you can’t go for the rest of your life in tee shirts and blue jeans and your uncle’s fatigue jacket.”
    â€œI know, Mother, but please don’t talk about Uncle Larry. I know you’re right, but the problem’s not a matter of understanding . I need some deep breaths.”
    â€œMaybe it is a problem of understanding,” she says. “The girl in the store was just being friendly. Don’t shut her out.”
    â€œShe was getting too close. It would never work. I could never have a friend named DeeDee.”
    â€œYou won’t have any friends at all if you don’t try.”
    â€œI couldn’t explain it to you. A girl named DeeDee could stand naked in the locker room without a moment of stress.”
    â€œWhat is that supposed to mean?”
    â€œPlease drop it, Mother. Can’t you see I need to breathe? It just wouldn’t work. She wouldn’t like me if she got to know me. No one does. When you’re crazy wild, you don’t have friends.”
    â€œI want you to stop it. You’re not crazy wild.”
    We have lunch at McDonald’s. Mother has a cheeseburger, and I have the chefs salad. I have to pick out the little chunks of ham and the bacon bits. I don’t know if the bacon bits are really a meat byproduct or if they’re something artificial, but I’m not taking any chances. I eat about half the salad.
    When we get home, I sit out on the balcony, in my niche. It is a hot, hot Saturday afternoon. I am mostly hidden but I have a field of vision between the draped towels.
    Mr. Stereo has his pup tied to a scrawny tree near his patio. The tree grows in a small seam of gravel between this parking lot and the next one. I know it is a Russian olive tree because I looked it up in a tree book my dad and I used to use in the woods and fields. Such a lovely name for such a pitiful, lonely, shapeless tree. How could it be otherwise? Its soil is gravel and litter. I can’t imagine an olive growing on it and I’m sure it will never have a mourning dove in its branches.
    Watching the Surly People is like digging at a festering wound; it frightens me and yet I can’t stop myself. I could hide in my room, I suppose, but the sky blows around and speaks with a firm whisper: It’s important to know everything. The Surly People are no accident .
    How the sky finds its quiet voice in the midst of all this noise I do not know. Mr. Stereo’s patio speaker is loud and there are two or three others blaring in the parking lot. Every once in a while someone sets off a firecracker or a whole string of them.
    At least a dozen people have found spots for sunbathing in the parking lot. Some of them are sitting in lawn chairs and others are lying on the hoods or tops of cars. Everyone drinks beer and smokes cigarettes. Every once in a while, a new car arrives, spilling out stereo noise and loud people. The people stay long enough to drink a beer or two, and then they leave, their engines roaring and their tires squealing.
    A girl named Brenda and her friend Irene are sunbathing on top of an old, corroded Dodge. The car radio is loud through the open windows. Five or six boys are draped over the car or leaning up against it. Somehow, they can enjoy their own noise and screen out the rest. Most of them go to West High; I have seen them there. One of them, whose name is DeWayne, is working on a motorcycle next to the car. His shirt is off and one side of his face is disfigured with burn-scar tissue. One of his eyebrows curves up instead of down; he frightens me. It isn’t hard to know information about them. They spray their lives around like a hose.
    The girl named Brenda sits up on top of the car. The top of her bikini is untied and for a moment her large breasts swing free.

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