Glynn was shocked to hear the news from Lonnie, head cashier at the Handy Shopper. Lonnie was drinking a beer in his usual spot at the end of the checkout counter. He had just come off the daytime shift. After Glynn made his purchases, Lonnie told him that Will Dresser flipped his Lemans in Galveston and was now hanging on for dear life, adding, “Life throws you some unexpected curve balls.” He looked sadly at Glynn. Will was the only one of the older boys who treated Glynn well. Glynn walked out of the Handy shopper confused and worried. Glynn’s best friend, Luke, casually said, “He’ll probably die soon.” This angered Glynn. “You don’t know. YOU DON’T KNOW NOTHING!” Glynn said, staring at Luke, his face lit up by the bright lights of the Handy Shopper. Luke had just stuffed his mouth with some bubble gum slipped from a pack of baseball cards. He stood straddling his Sting Ray and paused in mid chew. “What’s the matter with you? Let’s go smoke a Kool by the creek,” motioning with his head toward the drainage ditch. Glynn turned and rode out of the parking lot on his red Western Flyer. Luke followed his movements slowly as Glynn disappeared in the dark through the bamboo grove on the edge of the parking lot. “I wonder what got into him,” he said out loud, chewing again.

   Glynn rode his bike along the back of the strip mall, avoiding the large cardboard boxes. In the dark it was like an obstacle course. He was angry and pumping his bike hard, hitting the kickstand with a clang as the crank went around. At the end he veered off to Winton Avenue and two blocks down he turned toward home on Vine, the streets illuminated by an occasional street light. The houses were humble here, wood-framed with faded paint. Anger at Luke turned to worry about Will. Glynn coasted and every once in a while pedaled with a clang.

    Their house was a gray-green shotgun on brick piers with a poured concrete stoop. Momma was working late, but he could smell something good. Grams must have cooked. He could hear through the screen window her loudly saying her evening rosary in the living room. Softly he parked his bike out back by the kitchen. The kitchen screen door was covered with little white moths drawn to the light. He quietly opened the door. Moths flew in, circling the overhead light. Grams was seated in the next room with her back to him. She had her eyes closed, trance-like, with a rosary in her hands. She was praying, repeating, rattling off the Hail Marys like a mantra. The fan behind her and was garbling and warping her devotions. Him Mary for grace the Lord is with thee bus’are thou among women and blesses the froof thy woom Jee-su. Whole Mare moth of god pray for us is and is now dour death amen. Hay mary fuller grace t’lord is with thee bless is d’fur u thy womb Jes-uh. Hey Mary…

   Glen stood in the kitchen listening to the prayers and thought about Will. He slowly sank to his knees, overcome with fear and concern. He tensed up and burned with a prayer for Will’s life. Womb Jez-is. He took a breath , held it and prayed some more. God! At t’hour of hour debt.

He had a premonition: He was laying in a dark room and could see the sunlight in the next room coming in through the doorway. Small moths were flitting around his bed. He could hear voices, children’s laughter and splashing in the distance. Jesus! Amen! He opened his eyes. His grandmother was standing in the doorway eyeing him. She was a little puzzled. “Glynn! S’late! Go take you bath and I’ll get you sumpin t’eat.” She shuffled off to the bathroom. Glynn went to his room, laid down, and fell fast asleep.

     The next morning he woke up hungry, jays screeching outside his window. He could hear his mother softly talking to Grams. “Got hit and flipped.” Glynn got up and opened the door. “Been in the hospital,” he heard down the hall. He walked a few steps and heard. “Gonna make it but he’s paralyzed.” Glynn was perplexed. His prayers worked! But he didn’t expect this. He remembered Lonnie’s words. He felt guilty.

Francis Pavy