from Tradition...

“Dead,” is all he can get out of her.

“Finest still around?” he asks.

“Finest Coon’s dead. Been dead.”

Thunder rolls after the haze in the lazy gray sky. Bulldozers plow through the walls of the house next door. Through the walls. Through the floorboards. The probated tables and chairs. It feels like they’re plowing through his head.

He stands with his back to her. Stooped. Head bent. Staring at the light. Pale and flickering in an otherwise empty refrigerator, save the half stick of butter and the moldy loaf of bread hiding the stale box of baking soda in the back. The same hungry position he assumed sixty years before, the morning he left.

It had been full then. The refrigerator. No light nor state of the art cooling system. Just a box and a block of ice. Melting on a tray on the bottom. And he was scared. Rummaging through the dark as if he were robbing the place.

He is still scared, and you were robbing the place, he thinks.