Myrna

Harold had forgotten what it was like to be young, and the hammer in his hand helped remind him. Whether or not Myrna would have thought it was kind seemed irrelevant.

When, Peter, their grandson had been brought home by the police for shoplifting Myrna was incensed.

But he was safe. He had lost his mother. She sat him down and said he could always make things better.

In her flannel nighty, she sat across from their sulking charge. In her pocket was a fifth of Evan Williams. He stunk, a 14 year old who hadn’t learned how to shower yet. Harold was worried he’d stain the couch.

She said to him, “The only truly bad, unnatural thing in this world is hate. But even that can be fixed. The only things that can’t be walked back are bringing life into the world, and taking it out.”

Myrna uncorked the bottle, and poured out a little for all three of them.

“You’ve had a lot of thinking lately. Whatever you do, just be kind.”

Police whistles, sirens, angry young voices. The smell of his own spittle in the red and white handkerchief pulled up over his nose like an old timey bandit in loose coveralls. A part of him knew this was ridiculous. He had a pacemaker. He took seven different medicines every morning, and three with supper. This isn’t what it was like to be young. This is childishness — angry, violent, directionless. But it was exquisite, and the most exercise he’d had in years.

I guess you’re never too old to love being a jackass, he thinks.

Maybe in an hour, sitting in the back of a packed van with his hands zip-tied behind his back, he will think none of it was worth the fuss. Whatever the reason for the riot, it is extremely timely. The world is finally mourning with him, and he bounces the hammer once, twice, three times off of the plate glass window under a glowing Central Bank sign. The window is pocked, but looks more like someone sneezed on it than beat it in.

He sniffs and moves on down Oak, towards the smoke. Sky is blue, the heat of the day is dissipating. Myrna is still gone.