1981. Chicago.

By PB Johnson

Red Brick house. Over the sink, miniature porcelain painted animals on a wood shelf made in the basement workshop under the light of a bulb with a pull chain.

Two cans of cream soda, pecan sandies on a plate. Screen windows. Rumbling boxcars on a train in the dark. I watch fireflies lighting. I am seven. He’s 76. White Sox game on the TV with rabbit ears.

Before the sun comes up, he’ll be in the garden with hands dirty.

He’ll sip coffee. I’ll sit with him. In his hands, a clear plastic box with blue letters M T W R F Sa Su.

We get in the car, his initials are on the license plate. We have specific errands. A new padlock for his shed, potting soil, a card to express condolence, a rubber baseball for me. He wears a hat with a feather in the band.


PB Johnson was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and now lives in Illinois where he has worked as a police officer for more than twenty years. His writing has appeared in Green Briar Review, Gravel Magazine, Hoot Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and has been heard on Chicago Public Radio.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Graphite and Digital)

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