He watched her in the backyard. Playing pattycake with the neighbor’s girl. Opened a beer and continued looking on at the two youngsters laughing at one another. At first they’d start off slow then increase speed till one couldn’t take it anymore. Hands flying in the air. Guided by short arms. He turned his back on them. Drew the blinds. Took a seat at the kitchen table. Opened another beer. She wouldn’t be home for another hour. He watched the clock.

His head was on the table when she walked in with a sack of groceries. She pulled on his long black hair. You awake? she asked. Where’s Penny? picked up an empty Old Style can and threw it in the trash can. You had one job, she mumbled. One job, he lifted his head off the table.

Is she next door? she asked. He nodded his head. Are you sure? he looked at her and then opened another beer. Don’t you think you’ve had enough of those? the young husband walked into the living room. Thanks for your help, she said. He remained silent.

The sun was starting to go down behind trees and churches. Kids feet could be heard crunching leaves as they walked on sidewalks. The evening paper was thrown onto doorsteps by a boy on a bike.

I’m gonna call over there, the mom said. This is ridiculous. He laid in his easy chair watching The Mike Douglas Show. Crystal Gayle was singing, Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. The audience clapped. He wished he was married to Crystal Gayle. He liked her long brown hair. Her thin frame.

Sylvia? Is Penny over there? You haven’t seen her? Is Jennifer there? She is. I see, she said and hung up the phone.

The young mom went out to the front porch and lit a cigarette. Waiting on her child to come home.

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