The End of Vandalism

The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury Read Free Book Online

Book: The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tom Drury
    “Thank you for your opinion,” said Mary. “Nobody wishes a cage would work more than I do.”
    Louise went home and had spaghetti and asparagus for supper. She took a bath, turned on the TV that was perched on her dresser, and got in bed. The wind came up and seemed to lift the windows in their frames. Louise fell asleep and dreamed that ivy was growing over the top of her. When she awoke, it was that late hour in which they play the strangestcommercials. Here was one for a 900 number you could dial in order to talk to people with serious illnesses. On the screen a beautiful young woman sat wrapped in a blanket with a telephone in her lap. Louise got up and turned off the TV. She got back in bed. The wind blew, the house made one of its mysterious cracking sounds, and the phone rang.
    “I’ve been trying to sleep,” said her mother. “I can’t sleep, and it’s your fault. I know I’ve made mistakes, but please tell me what compels you to stand up in front of people and say I’m wrong.”
    “Well,” said Louise, “you were being so mean to that dog.”
    “You care more about a dog than you do about your own mother,” said Mary. “Why can’t you be on my side? I stand up there all alone, and all you’re concerned about is a dog.”
    “The topic was a dog,” said Louise.
    “You leave me stranded among strangers,” said Mary.
    “I’m on your side, Mom,” said Louise. “I’m on your side. What did happen with King?”
    “This is what I mean,” said Mary. “King, King, King, King, King.”
    “Why don’t you make a drink and calm down,” said Louise.
    “What happened to the almighty King,” said Mary.
    “Why don’t you fix yourself a drink,” said Louise.
    Mary sighed. Then she was quiet for so long that Louise began to wonder whether she had put the phone down and walked away.
    “That pet shop woman talked for one solid hour,” said Mary. “They had to table my motion and adjourn just to get rid of her.”

    ONE SATURDAY, Sheriff Dan Norman was kneeling on top of his trailer house, trying to patch a rusty spot that was beginning to leak, when a religious woman came by. She had yellow hair pulled into a thick braid. Her Bible was white, and she held it in both hands, like a big white sandwich.
    “Does Jesus live in this home?” she said.
    “Pardon?” said Dan. He stood up. In his hands were a trowel and a can of orange sealant, called Mendo, that he had got at Big Bear.
    “Did you know that Jesus could live in this trailer?” said the woman. “Because he can. You accept him as your personal savior, he’s here tomorrow.”
    “I’m comfortable with my beliefs,” said Dan.
    “Well—what are they?” said the woman.
    “Let’s just say I have some,” said Dan, “leave it there.”
    “Fine with me,” said the woman. She tucked the Bible under her arm and climbed the aluminum ladder leaning against the side of the trailer. She stepped onto the roof and held out her hand. “My name is Joan Gower,” she said. “I’m from Chicago originally, but I’ve lived in this area seven years.”
    The sky had the blue depth of a lake. Joan Gower took thetrowel from Dan Norman’s hand. He thought for a minute that she was going to pitch in, but it was a brief thought, because she hurled the trowel to the ground.
    She sighed. “Wouldn’t it be a miracle if we could throw away our sins that easy?” she said. “God, what a miracle that would be.” She stared sadly downward, and it seemed to Dan that she had in mind particular sins, occurring on such and such a day.
    “Look at that,” said Dan: the trowel had stuck in the ground, like a sign. He climbed down to retrieve it, but the phone rang and he went inside, leaving Joan Gower standing up on the roof of the trailer.
    The man on the telephone told Dan to go look in a shopping cart at the Hy-Vee. He did not say which Hy-Vee. He did not say what was in the cart. He said he was calling Dan at home so the call could

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