Omaha. January. Under a gray gauze winter sky. Antony Anders steps out of a gas station near 42nd and Harrison.
He is wearing blue jeans, leather boots, a hooded sweat shirt much too thin for the weather, and a Catcher in the Rye winter hat – the kind with those ear flaps, you know? In his left hand is a 12-pack of Coors. In his right hand is a plastic grocery bag with some potato chips, a roll of paper towels, and a frozen burrito inside.
He walks through the slush of the parking lot. Unlocks the door of a black 1991 Ford Ranger. Tosses in the things he bought and then climbs in after them.
He gets the truck started on his fourth try.
Antony pulls out onto Harrison and points the truck due east. On the left side of the road lies Omaha. Douglas County. On the right lies Bellevue, which is Sarpy County. Harrison’s the county line.
Antony’s great great-grandfather had once been sheriff of Sarpy County, way back in the days when a one-legged bootlegger who hunts lions for sport could still get into local politics around here. The family is all gone now, though. Scattered.
Nobody stays in Nebraska.
The truck – a light rear wheel drive with no weight in the back and a driver who’s never driven on snow and ice until here recently – it slides right on through the first stop sign it comes to. Then it slides right on through the second.
When Antony turns left onto 25th Street, well, that road looks even worse, and at this point, the truck is basically just following the ruts in the snow. Then it’s right on Monroe Street and a couple more blocks east before he arrives at his destination.
It is getting dark. It is getting colder. It is beginning to snow again.
And Antony cannot get the truck up the driveway. Sure, he gives it a good go but finally just lets it roll backwards. Parks across the sidewalk. Gets his groceries together. Gets out and for a moment stares up at the tiny baby blue house at the back of the lot.
Before it was baby blue, this house was red. Before it was red, this house was gold. And before it was gold, well, this house was baby blue then, too.
Antony’s great great-grandfather built this house. Not the bootlegger/lion hunter/Sarpy County sheriff great great-grandfather. Another one. A different one. This great great-grandfather had actually built a garage on the lot and the house itself was sort of an afterthought.
His great-grandmother was raised in this house. His grandmother owned it for better than twenty years. Hell, his father was born here.
Antony Anders is renting the family house from a current owner who knows nothing about its history.
Groceries in hand, Antony walks carefully up the driveway. Goes in the front door, which is at the back of the house. He lays his things on the kitchen table and heads back to the bedroom, where he kisses a sleeping man lightly on the cheek.
Finally, he comes back out to the kitchen, microwaves his frozen burrito, and eats it at the kitchen table while sipping a Coors and checking FascistDykeMotors.com for updates on his laptop.
And out in the van, I lower my binoculars.
I say, “Good God!”
I say, “I can’t get my head around the fact that he’s living in my grandmother’s old house!”
And Harry – my old, old partner-in-crime, Harry – he runs his fingers through his long white beard, takes my binoculars and says, “You found him… So now what?”
We both start tugging at the binoculars. I don’t know whose turn it is to use them.
I say, “Well, he’s my twin brother, Harry.”
I say, “There has to be some kind of karmic symmetry here. You know, black and white? Good and evil. Male and female. Heads and tails.”
Harry scrunches up his face. He looks skeptical.
I yank the binoculars out of his hand. I peer through the back window of the old family house again. I say, “It’s simple, really. How’s that old saying go? ‘You break my back; I’ll break yours’?”
Ya ran the varmint to ground, didya? I don't know why I'm talking like this. It just seems to fit the theme of your bootleggin', lion-huntin', sheriffin' g-g-g-grandfather. Oh crap, now it looks like I'm stuttering.ReplyDelete
You're talking like I write half of the time. I've been making a concerted effort not to sound like Foghorn Leghorn in my writing lately, though.Delete
Either way, this guy is going DOWN.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
I don't know. Life doesn't all live up to its potential.Delete
All I can do is tell it in the best way I know how and (as Elmore Leonard always recommended) "leave out the parts that people don't read anyway."
Ah, Harry again! We haven't heard about him in awhile. So far so good! Will there be more coming?ReplyDelete
I assume I have to write more about this. But who knows?Delete
I never try and predict what I'm going to write next until it clicks.
I am thrilled to see you're around and able to comment, Cal!
Katy. What kind of burrito can you even buy up to fucking Nebraska? It was, of course, frozen--my guess as to the state of burritos in the Cornshucker State. Having said that, the smile on your face scares me.ReplyDelete
Please don't get caught. Orange is not your color.
South Omaha, where my family was originally from, is almost 100% Hispanic. South Omaha is where the railroads and the old stockyards are, and it's always been immigrants. As a friend of my family says, "There has always been a lot of music with accordions playing around here. It used to be Czech music, and now it's Tejano."
The smile on my face in that pic ought to get me cast in a horror movie...
I thought you were getting all ready for a Shootout at the NoK Corral from your description of Mr Anders emerging from the store. Blood on the snow.ReplyDelete
Sometime in the next six months, when I move forward with this story, you'll see what I was doing.Delete
I am not going to put "Part 1" or "Part 2" on my posts anymore because when I do, I am just setting myself up for failure.
“You found him… So now what?”ReplyDelete
American sniper thing?
Was that a line in "American Sniper"?Delete
I haven't seen it yet.
I'm sort of an American sniper, though.
I can manage to get a Coke can into a trash can from nearly 5 feet away, though. Usually.
I have connections in Omaha if you need info. Things like best brew pub, best Mexican food or where the soul food joints on the north side are located.ReplyDelete
Hi, Jay! I can always use restaurant recommendations. I could very easily end up there again. There are plenty of my people buried up there, if nothing else.Delete
Finally an update! Unless this is some sort of flashback story.ReplyDelete
It would be way too weird to live in an old family home. My childhood home, my grandparents' home, even a long lost aunt's home would be way too strange to live in ("in which to live"? sorry, the whole ending a sentence in a preposition thing vexes me). "Oh, yeah, I live in the master bedroom, you know, where I was conceived by my huffing, heaving, doesn't-care-about-mutual-pleasure, bodily hygiene is an afterthought father and my eating disorder, still-desperate-for-her-father's-approval-which-she-gets-through-the-acceptance-of-my-disgusting-father, demure mother. It's really the ideal living situation. The only ghosts are those of my past." It would be a nightmare.
No, it's not a flashback story, although it did take me almost 2 months to write it, so at this point, it sort of is.
Nothing good can ever come of picturing your parents having sex. Actually, you're probably better off not trying to picture them before you were born. Or after they were 75. As a matter of fact, picture them as they were on your first-ever day of school and leave it at that.
Cut ya some slack on this on Ms. FoghornReplyDelete
Haha... Well, the past 8 months, I have posted a lot of blogs where my brother has done an awful lot of screwed-up things to my family. This one sort of represents the shoe being placed on the other foot. The other foot being me.Delete
That seems like a ridiculous metaphor, now that I've posted it. Forget I used the whole foot thing.
I'd do a post just listing all the screwed-up things my brother did to the family, but I don't dwell in the past. Except when travel a thousand miles to take revenge, I mean.
The other foot being me. This TuesdyDelete
What's happening this Tuesday?Delete
NSFW Fred broke his foot and the operation is today - I sent him the link about the other foot - said he will post your TuesdayDelete
A broken foot sounds awful. I sprained my ankle when I was 7 and I still have issues with it, especially when I run.Delete
You've either got world class binoculars, or you've already mounted a nanny-cam in the dude's house... You saw him go back to the bedroom and lightly kiss a sleeping man on the cheek? Shit... what was in the burrito?ReplyDelete
Personally, I hope you don't exact your pound of flesh revenge on this asshole. Write about his ass from time to time, sparing no embarrassing detail, but like a good doctor, strive to do no harm. What is it they say about living well being the best revenge?
Besides, they might not let you work on your blog in some Cornhusker hoosegow. (I've always loved that word...)
The bedroom and kitchen both had windows looking out on the back side of the house, so we could have, theoretically. At least if people weren't so good about closing blinds.Delete
I think hoosegow might be my word of the week.
Did you know that before the Cornhuskers had that name, they were called "the Bugeaters?" I was up there when I was younger and they had black and white billboards for some bank or something that said, "When we were Bugeaters." I've always wanted to use that phrase for something.
I say I say, damn fine story theyah, Katy.ReplyDelete
(If you think my text-Foghorn Leghorn is bad, you should hear my in-person impersonation. Just awful)
Now I'm just curious to see what happens next. Are you going to pull a John Wick on him? Or maybe a Scooby Doo? (Dress up in a sheet, pretend to be great-great-grandpa's ghost, and haunt him until he runs dramatically outside of the house while his feet tread in place making xylophone noises)
I'm sure I'd get away with it, too, so long as those darned kids don't show up.Delete
Well, Ms. Anders, you just keep finding ways to keep me coming back to this blog.ReplyDelete
I mean, other than the thing about having it saved as a favorite and occasionally remembering to click on it, usually days after you've written something really cool.
Ha. I am glad you're one of the dozen people who stop by here on a semi-regular basis. I'll try not to make it time-sensitive, so it will still be relevant by the time you get here...Delete