Rodney lets the BMW purr near the curb. Cindi and Dennis stand in their front yard, looking at the convertible. Dennis is wearing gardening gloves and standing over a small hole he holds a clayslaked shovel and looks like a balding idiot.
Cindi says, Is that Rodney?
Slick, aint it? Rodney taps lightly on the accelerator and the engine purrs louder. She’s pretty quick, he admits.
It’s a nice car, Cindi says. She is holding a small tree in her hands. The root bulb is wrapped in burlap. Did Michael tell you where we lived?
Rodney waves away the question. What’s that for, he says, pointing at the tree.
We’re planting it, she says.
Across the street an old man is squirting a hose on his lawn. The afternoon sun jewels in the spray, forming a small rainbow above the grass.
Pretty, says Rodney, pointing again. He looks back at Cindi. She is still holding the tree and looking at him.
I read about your momma in the papers, Rodney. I’m real sorry about it.
Well I come on by here to show you my new car. I just got her this mornin. I wanted one in red but they say they aint make it in red so I got it silver.
It’s used, aint it? says Dennis. He sounds like a balding idiot.
It’s been owned previously, Rodney corrects.
Cindi bends down and places the tree into the hole. Dennis pushes over dirt and buries the bulb. Rodney again taps the accelerator.
Well it was good seein you, Rodney. Cindi’s blonde hair blows around in a slight wind. She is a bit wrinkled of face.
I’m goin on a boat with Mike to probably do some fishin. I’ll catch a few I think if there’s some to be caught and I’ll bring em by for a fish dinner if I do.
That’s alright about the fish, Rodney. We dont take much to fish.
Aint yall got a swimmin pool?
Cindi looks at Dennis who is now on his knees pushing the dirt into a mound against the trunk. She looks back at Rodney. No.
Okay okay. Rodney releases the brake and presses the accelerator and begins driving away uncertainly.
Cindi watches him and he watches Cindi. Bye Rodney! she shouts, but now he’s down the block and probably around the corner and now he has probably left the neighborhood.
Who the hell was that, says Dennis.
That’s my brothers friend. You met him at the weddin.
I dont remember. Dennis removes his gardening gloves. He has very soft hands for a man his size.
When we was growin up he was friends with my brother and he come over about every day. That’s around when we didnt call him Rodney but called him Motormouth on account of his fixin things. You know them model planes you could get from Boy Scout magazine? Rodney was crazy about em. You’d hear buzzin by the windows late at night and you could smell this gasoline stink in the mornin. He crashed one through our livingroom window this time with a note on it said will you go to prom with me- rodney but I wasn’t but twelve and him in high school so my brother went down and asked him did he mean to send that note to his sister and did he mean to break that window. Well Rodney said yes and Michael punched his nose. They was still good friends after that but you know Rodney was always a bit different. When he was out of school his momma moved out to Danville and Rodney went with her. I saw in the papers where she died not four days ago and survived by her loving son so I guess he’s lived with her these twenty some years.
Dennis stomps the dirt down with his boot. They gather the shovel and gloves, and disappear together into the house.
Eugene Harrogate is from Lexington, Kentucky, and received his MFA in Fiction Writing from NYU. His essays, interviews, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Publishers Weekly, Guernica and The Rumpus. He lives in Brooklyn and tweets here.