Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Something Familiar -- Kara Weiss

Monty reached into his pocket and pretended to palm a key. He made a turning motion at the broken lock and pushed the door open, like his father had showed him earlier that day. The dank smell filled his lungs; decades of cigarette smoke and poor ventilation and piss and mold and God knows what else. A stench that should not exist in a living place. Puddles had gathered in the dipped middle of the first six stairs, brown water floating on the beaten carpet. He followed up the stairs the trail of mold folded into the edge of the ceiling and the wall, and wondered if he would ever get used to any of this.

He wondered if he would ever get used to the neighborhood. He'd borrowed the only jacket his father would let him take, a Carhartt work jacket with a tear at the elbow, and walked out onto the street. The winter Boston air cut cleanly through the canvas and the pockets did nothing to warm his hands. He should have borrowed a pair of kicks too, he now thought. Had his father been willing to lend a pair. His were the same Timbs he'd had on his last admit to Juvenile Detention sixteen months ago, and his toes and heels were destroyed, pressed and rubbing against the hard leather. They were at least two sizes too small. His desire to get out of the apartment had been spurred at least as much by his interest in checking out the 'hood as to get out of the apartment, his father's insolence as thick as the building's stench.

At the second floor landing Monty nearly tripped over the splayed legs of an old man buried deep under layers of scratchy gray blankets. His eyes were dead and teeth acid burned, and he huddled over a camp stove, a sick wool glove covering the hand that held the spoon. The man had been there since Monty had arrived that morning, and he wondered if the man recognized him, or knew him standing there. The man didn't look up, and he spoke to the flame in words only he could understand. Monty walked passed, and the man pushed a jug of gas beneath his knees, guarding it against the possible theft.

"I don't want your fucking gas," Monty said, but the man either ignored him, or didn't hear, and as Monty turned away he kicked his too-small work boot into the step, and the stab of pain quickly gathered in his eyes, and he bit his lip not to scream. He stayed there several minutes, trying to wait out at least the acuteness of the pain pulsing in his foot, before realizing he'd be waiting days, and thought maybe he'd better take them off. He bent to pull them off and from the close distance the fetid stink off the carpet was pure and potent and he gagged and inhaled deep that same smell before standing upright, and the shock brought up half a cup of the coffee he'd had just an hour before. The brown puddle rested on the tips of the carpet bristles for a moment before disappearing deep into the fibers, the smell of bile indiscernible over the preexisting stench, and he decided to keep his boots on his feet.

The fifth floor came slowly. His father's apartment was dark behind the door, and Monty felt a silence he tried to ignore. He knocked, and waited, and when he knocked for the fourth time he wondered if his father was passed out, or gone. He found an old Blockbuster card in his wallet and jammed it into the small lock on the handle and it popped so easily he wondered if he could work the other three. He tried the top lock and found quickly that it was a deadbolt, and dropped the card and leaned his shoulder into the door and tried to force it. He thought he felt the doorframe begin to give and he stepped back, and knew the only thing worse than being locked out would be the resulting damage of breaking in. He dropped from his knees to a sit and tilted his head back, aiming his face at the higher air.

It was three hours before his father came dragging up the stairs. He held a crumpled McDonalds bag, grease soaked and crushed.

"Got you dinner," his father said, dropping the bag next to his son. His father worked on the locks and Monty touched the cold paper.

"You see what you wanna see?" His father said.

"Yeah," Monty said, thinking now that locked out or locked in, it was so much the same. While he'd been biding his time at Detention, his father had traded down the apartment they'd had in Brookline, and moved to a one-bedroom two miles southeast. Mission Hill. Their old apartment hadn't been fancy but it was big enough for two and the windows were set to let in light when there was light to let in. It was one of few low-income buildings in Brookline, tucked into a quiet upper-middle class neighborhood, and Monty's father had traded down in every possible way.
He followed his father inside the gloomy space and stood in the doorway, watching his father collapse on the wool couch. Their old La-Z-Boy sofa set he'd also traded down, for a couch that looked like the worst of Goodwill.

"You gotta lock it," Monty's father said. "Am I gonna have to wipe your ass, too?"
Monty turned the four locks and stepped inside. He leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. He untied his Timbs and pulled them off, careful not to cause more damage to his feet. His socks were bloody and when he pulled them off he didn't know where to put them and he wished there was some place he could lie down. The living room wasn't much bigger than his cell and the couch took up half the room, sitting squat against the wall between the bedroom and bathroom. The wood doors were warped and cracked, and they hung open as if dead. Opposite the couch a small entryway led to a kitchen nook. Though hole was the word that came to mind.

"What happened to the old couch?" Monty asked.

"Got this now. Guess you'll be sleepin' on it," he said sadly, mourning his own loss.

"I'm allergic to wool."

"Well, aren't you just a warm beer on a hot day."

Monty looked at his feet. Blisters had formed and popped on his knuckles and the ends of his toes, and the skin curled tight and dead around the holes. The wounds on his heels were more elegant, the edges sloping inward through layers of flesh, red and white.

That night Monty unfolded the pile of sheets and thin blankets and made a bed on the couch. He pulled back the quilt and lay on the sheets. The itch of wool was immediate, and though he willed himself to block it out, he shot off the couch after thirty seconds, a fresh rash already pushing at his skin. He pulled the linens from the couch and shook them and inspected them for lint and shook them again. He made a bed on the floor and tried to sleep.

In the morning the men sat silently over coffee. Monty sat on the floor, his seat padded by the quilt. The room was dim and shadowed, and filled by the sounds of morning foot traffic and children's hurried steps and Monty wished he were anywhere else. His father sat now with his legs splayed, occupying half the couch and Monty could see that his father's life happened on those wool cushions. He could see that very little happened at all.

Monty finished his mug and poured another, the new freedom to take pressing hard on his heart. He returned to his pile and sat with the mug between his legs. The nutty steam rising off the drink. He took a sip and when he looked up from his mug his father looked away, and Monty wondered what his father saw. What he needed to see.

"I'm going out," his father said, getting up abruptly from the couch.

"Where you going?"

"Out. Don't spill that."

"You don't got work?" Monty said, setting the mug on the floor.

"I'm back on the night-shift. I work tonight."

Monty's father turned from the coat closet, looked at his son. Their eyes met and neither looked away, and Monty felt him searching, for something familiar, maybe, something he could understand.

The door clicked shut as he disappeared, and Monty rose from the ground and took his father's prized Red Sox jacket off the hanger. He took a garbage bag from the kitchen and began filling it with the few things he had.

He choked a knot at the top of the bag and slung it over his shoulder before locking the door from the inside and pulling it closed. From the moment the lock clicked in the door he hated himself for forgetting to trade-up his Timbs for a pair of his father's kicks. The Blockbuster card he'd used before he'd left in his otherwise empty old wallet, which now lay useless on the wool couch. Over the night, his feet had scabbed and blistered. He should have bandaged them, and he should have taken his father's shoes, but he didn't, and he started down the stairs, trying not to limp.

Outside the sky was blinding white. A thick cloud domed overhead and the world was aglow. Monty pressed his eyes shut for a moment and when he opened, they were filled with tears he had to wipe from his face. He didn't know the last time he'd walked alone in daylight.

He started up the street in the direction he'd explored the previous night, but in the slow of day, it didn't feel like the city he'd remembered. A couple old men hobbled with matching walkers, and cigarette butts and broken glass made a neat trellis in the gutter. Down a side street a cluster of cop cars gathered, and outside the yellow tape people yelled and cried. Across the street two young girls jumped rope. There were no sirens, and the scene looked mundane. He kept walking and passed almost nothing, just a modest church surrounded by a sad wrought iron fence.

He found his way to Tremont street, and then Longwood, and the broken residential streets turned to choking traffic. The bottoms of white coats flapped under winter jackets, and the people walked with a brisk authority, holding their stethoscopes from beating on their chests. Monty walked on the curb, letting the important doctors pass. Down the street he saw the hospital where Dr. Gupta had set his broken arm, and around the corner the one he'd been born in. Three ambulances screamed past and he shuffled against the crowds onto Fenway Drive where the people and stores and Dunkin' Donuts were gone and there was nothing but the easy flow of traffic and snow covered trees.

He followed Fenway until it became Park and the road widened and he was in a neighborhood he didn't know. Two women approached quickly, touching each other with the warmth and attention of a particular social class and he remembered to stand up straight. One of the women pulled a set of keys from her purse and pointed over her shoulder with the key. A late model Lexus flashed and beeped. The women were wearing the kind of clothes that reminded him of what his father wasn't, but the wounds on his feet were rubbed down to deep layers of flesh, and he needed to go the right way.

"Excuse me," he said, suddenly aware of the dirt on his pants, the dried blood on his lips. "Is this Comm Ave?" He motioned to the cross street ahead.

"Yes, that right there," one of the women said. She rubbed her leather-gloved hands like they might spark. "But there's no sidewalk on this section of the street."

He noticed the Burberry lining peaking out of her collar and saw now that her earmuffs matched the print. She looked like the kind of woman who brushes her teeth after every meal.

"It's okay, I got it," he said.

"Well, where are you going? A couple other streets run sort of parallel and--"

"Thanks, that's okay. Thanks." He brushed quickly past the women, his palms sweating in his pockets.

He took a left onto Commonwealth Avenue and continued on the two-foot curb that flanked the shoulder. It was only a quarter mile before it merged into Lenox and he knew where he was. The sidewalk emerged in wide and perfect cement squares, and perfect bushes lined the front lawns. A stiff frozen snow topped the roofs of second and third cars not often used, and the neat stillness reminded him of winter and he realized it's been a year since weather has been a part of life. He walked along the gutter where thin sheets of ice crushed beneath his feet, and passing cars spread wide to give him room, and when he came to Tammy's house, there was no car in the driveway. There was no one home.

It was close to seven when Mr. Broder pulled towards his house, slowing as the dark something on his porch came into focus. A person--a man, it looked like--sitting on the top step, head dropped between his knees. He pulled into the driveway and cut the engine, hoping the man would wake and run. But he didn't move. He had no hat and a thin layer of broken snow dusted his head. He got out of the car and slammed the door. Still, there was nothing. He took a few steps closer, thinking about the freezing temperature, and the thin jacket on the man. Dead winter, the sun had set hours ago and the light cast by the street lamp was a gesture at best. The road was silent with the warmth of full households, and he considered knocking on his neighbor's door. But then, what was he afraid of? He felt for his cell phone in the holster on his pants and held it there as he approached the steps.

"Hello?" he said, body half turned toward the street. "Hello?" he said again, with a voice more like the house was actually his.

The man's head jerked up. He looked at Mr. Broder and rubbed his eyes, wiped the winter from his nose.

"Shit," he said, "Hi Mr. Broder."

Mr. Broder looked at him, trying to place the face, the voice. He didn't know either, but there was something familiar, something that reminded him of his daughter.

"It's Monty, Sir." He looked at Mr. Broder, realizing for the first time that there were multiple outcomes possible.

"Monty, are you okay?" Mr. Broder rushed the boy and dragged him in the house.
Inside, the walls were fresh and familiar. The furniture and maple wood detailing he remembered from his childhood, as he did the crystal chandelier that hung in the entryway. He and Tammy had always played in that hall, though there was nothing there--just a stiff carpet and a couple antique piano chairs. A boring fourth grade afternoon had found them lying on their backs beneath the chandelier, taking turns kicking a semi-deflated birthday balloon in the air, until one of them had kicked too hard, and the balloon grazed the fixture, gently lifting three of the crystals from the chandelier and dropping them to the floor. They'd dragged a chair from the kitchen but couldn't reach, and even with Tammy propped on Monty's unsteady shoulders, there was an unrecoverable foot of distance. Rather than face Mrs. Broder, they'd hid the crystals in the seat of one of the antique chairs, and fled to Tammy's room without ever saying a word.

Mr. Broder guided Monty into the kitchen and put on a pot of water. He opened the fridge looking for his wife's lasagna or roasted chicken, but in the naked white light the few items stocked were evidence. And a sad reminder.

Monty sat at the table. Old newspapers were overflowing in the bin, and the counters were clean, but barren. The fruit bowl was empty. There was no garlic on the ceramic plate beside the toaster. "Where's Mrs. Broder?" Monty asked.

Mr. Broder let the fridge door slowly close. "Suzanne is gone," Mr. Broder said, immediately aware of how irritated his voice emerged. "Didn't you know?"

"Yeah, sorry. I forgot." Tammy had told him, over a year ago. But the notion that Tammy's parents had split was the kind of nonsensical information that never sticks, and Monty had promptly forgotten. Even before his first arrest, he'd held the Broders as an emblem of what could be. They read The Economist and didn't keep soda in the house. They were professionals. They skied.

Mr. Broder sat at the table across from Monty, setting down two mugs of hot water and a tray of tea. He flipped through the selection, one tea bag at a time, settling on a chamomile peppermint. He didn't say anything, just looked down at his mug, occasionally yanking the bag to the surface.
Monty leaned over his mug, the scentless steam rising to his face. He took a sip. The water eased down his throat, warming his body from the inside.

"You want a tea bag?" Mr. Broder said, sliding the tray across the table.

"I can't stay with him."

"Can't stay with whom?" Mr. Broder said. His voice was calm and unsurprised.

"My father."

"What's wrong with your father?" Mr. Broder said, slipping into his Public Defender persona, a pet-peeve of his almost ex-wife's who berated him for treating her like a system kid. And he knew the question was ridiculous at best. Beside the local gossip, and what he'd heard second hand from his daughter, there had been a series of articles in The Tab, chronicling the assault and battery charges filed against Monty's father.

"He moved to a one-bedroom in Roxbury. Below The Hill," Monty said.

Mr. Broder sipped his tea. He wished the significance of this weren't so obvious.

"I stole his jacket," Monty said.

"I used to have a jacket like that."

"Me and Tammy and B.J. and that kid Fred, we used to sneak into games. After the sixth inning, it was easy. Security left and it was just open," Monty said. "Is it okay if I take boots my boots off? They're killing me."

"Are they new?"

"Nah, they're wicked old. "

Monty untied the laces from his right boot and pried the leather apart. He tried to crunch his toes, to clear his ankle from the heel of the shoe, but couldn't negotiate the squeeze and the ragged flesh scraped out of the boot. He bit his lip and swore only in his breath. His foot came out a blood-soaked mess.

"Whoa!" Mr. Broder said. "Hang on, let me put a towel down. That is a lot of blood!"

Monty peeled back his sock and saw that the wounds were no longer bleeding. A hole the depth and width of three stacked quarters was worn into the back of his heel. On his knuckles blisters were popped and rising.

"Well this looks horrible," Mr. Broder said. "Take off the other one, I'm going to get some hydrogen peroxide and bandages and see if we can clean you up."

Mr. Broder walked up the stairs, wondering where he could find gauze and disinfectant. It had been years since he had to clean his daughter's wounds, though hers had only ever been the scrape of a small rock on a soccer field, or a swab of road rash from a missed landing on her rollerblades. He tried to clear his head of the distain he had for Monty's father, of the memory of Monty on the first day of fourth grade, double black eyes and a bump on his head like a tangerine. He rustled through ancient tins of Band-Aids and Neosporin and felt no better about this updated image of his daughter's oldest friend.

In the dark quiet Monty felt the old house breathing in the winter. The vents kicked and a rush of warm air emerged from the floor by the newspaper bin. He remembered melting chocolate chip granola bars on that vent. Tammy had taught him how. To set the naked bar on its wrapper, to balance it on the slats above the vent. They'd sat cross-legged, watching the sticky granola melt apart. Monty stood from the chair and balanced on the heels of his feet, sliding down the wall. The air blew hot and dry, pinching his skin. But for the past sixteen months he'd been only degrees of cold--sleeping in a concrete cube under thin blankets, he'd quickly wasted his calories fighting a losing battle against the chill. The skin beneath his nose would take weeks to heel, and so, because he could, kept his hands warm and still, soaking dry the hot air.
Mr. Broder came down the stairs and cleaned the flaps of skin hanging from Monty's feet. He poured hydrogen peroxide over his toes and heels and when everything was dry and clean as it could be, he asked Monty for his father's phone number.

"What are you gonna say?" Monty asked.

"I'm going to let him know you're here, and that you're safe. He's probably worried about you."
Monty didn't say anything.

"I mean, he should be worried about you."

Monty slumped forward in his chair, holding his head in his hands. "Please don't take me back."

"Monty, he's your father."

The phone in the apartment rang unanswered and there was no machine at the other end. If he had a cell phone number, Monty didn't know it, and soon they had nothing to do but order a pizza and watched the Bruins lose. Monty's feet pillowed with gauze, the soft white blocks compressed into Mr. Broder's slippers. He wore an oversized Burton sweatshirt he found in Tammy's room - a vestige of her relationship with a semi-professional snowboarder who didn't know how to read. Not even a menu, Mr. Broder said. They sat sunken in the sofa, eyes glazed on the T.V. They booed the calls and slid the pizza to each other across the waxen floors.
The game ended and the men sat away from each other, waiting to see what Mr. Broder would do. Monty fixed a piece of gauze that had come undone.

"Ready for bed?" Mr. Broder asked.

Monty nodded.

"You practically lived here when you were a kid," Mr. Broder said. Monty nodded again, unsure if he was talking to him. "You and Tammy used to jump out of the laundry room window into piles of leaves. God, Suzanne almost killed the two of you. Remember? You cut your knee on that stick and we had to take you to the hospital? And after the hospital Suzanne dragged you guys out of the car and sent you to timeout. I think she made you sit in the second floor bathroom for three hours."

Monty smiled. "Yeah, I remember," he said. He remembered perfectly, the six-foot tall piles they used to scrape together. They took turns watching each other launch from the window, every jump out-doing the last. They were stunt doubles. Firefighters. Bandits. He remembered the enormous worm that crawled out of Tammy's tangle of hair just as the sun was disappearing and the first gusts of steamy air came panting from their mouths. He touched the raised scar on his knee. Mrs. Broder had held his hand as the surgeon pressed the massive needle into his leg. And she hadn't let go until the last stitch was in.

"God, I can't imagine what happened to your father."

"Don't worry about him. He knows how to take care of number one."

Mr. Broder offered a sad smile, and by the expression on Monty's face he was certain Monty knew what he was getting at.

Monty woke to a gradual brightening that illuminated the room. For the past year and a half he'd been startled awake by a tinny bell and the flash of fluorescent lights that left him with a headache through breakfast. Mr. Broder had put Monty in the master bedroom. He'd taken to sleeping on the daybed in his office and didn't like the idea of anyone in Tammy's room but her. Monty stepped down from the king sized bed and followed the radiant heat to the master bathroom. It was undiscovered territory, having always used the bathroom off Tammy's room. The half-bath was bigger than his cell, with a granite counter that sprawled across the wall and easily held the two sinks. He opened the hidden cabinet that was built into the wall. It was stocked with Kiels: hand soap, moisturizer, intensive cream, face wash, face buffer, facial moisturizer, exfoliate, astringent, eye cream, eye rejuvenator, eye elastin, caffeinated face cream. There was a bottle of blended oils that included avocado. He guessed at a bottle of Ultra Moisturizing Buffing Cream with Scrub Particles, and followed it up with Brightening Botanical Moisture Fluid. A shy stubble was emerging on his chin but he couldn't bare the thought of bringing a razor to his ultra moisturized face. Mr. Broder had given him a fresh head to use on his own electric toothbrush and as Monty ran the massaging bristles over his teeth a string of foamy paste dripped from the corner of his smile.

Downstairs, the men drank coffee over sections of The Boston Globe. Mr. Broder used a French press, and Monty watched as he poured the boiling water into the sleek glass container and gently pressed the grinds to the bottom. The process was neat and subdued and Monty wondered how people learned these kinds of things. On the front page of the Metro section a man lay bloody and dead on the steps of an apartment building. Shot point-blank at eight pm last night. It was gang related and retaliatory. Mr. Broder knew the address and he looked at Monty, trying to discover if he knew it too. Mr. Broder quickly folded the page and said nothing.

"Like three blocks away."

"I'm not sure, I'm not that familiar with the neighborhood."

"I wasn't asking, Sir."

When the grinds were drained and the paper was marked with rings, Mr. Broder tried Monty's father one more time. Again, there was no answer.

"You remember where the apartment is?" Mr. Broder asked.

"Yeah, I know."

"Okay then, no time like the present."

"Don't you have to go to work?"

"I'm the boss. I called an assistant D.A. He'll take care of anything urgent." He said this as he got up from the table and started up the stairs, taking them by twos. He went to his closet and emerged with a pair of running shoes. They were too big, but with the gauze and bandages they'd fit okay. Monty looked at the New Balances peaking out from under his jeans. They weren't like the ones that had become suddenly cool ten years ago. They were old and worn and functional. And for a moment he was embarrassed in a way he'd never been before. And he knew immediately that it was a luxury.

The men wrapped themselves in scarves and hats and gloves, and as Mr. Broder reached for the door Monty touched his shoulder.

"What if he's there?" Monty said.

"He's your father."

"I can't live with him. I can't. Please. I'll get a part-time job and buy my own food and shovel and do the dishes and I can cook. I'll cook, and I promise I won't get in trouble. I swear."

Mr. Broder looked at him, remembering the night he was first arrested. He'd heard about the kid whose nose Monty had broken when he was thirteen, and the security guard whose jaw he'd cracked just a year ago. He thought of the tents he'd made with Tammy when they were in second grade and the card he'd given Suzanne on Mother's day, more than a decade ago. And beneath his jacket and under his t-shirt were homemade tattoos and scars like tallies that ran up his arm. He said nothing, and guided Monty out the door.

They backed out of the driveway and the elegant homes that filled the historic neighborhood quickly passed, and in a matter of breaths the street was flanked with beat down tenements and heaps of shit piled snow. They passed the taped-off half block they'd seen in the paper, and when the car stopped outside his father's building Monty had lost the rhythm of his breath. Mr. Broder pulled his Club out of the back and fixed it to the steering wheel.

"Lot of jacks in Cottage Farm?" Monty said.

"I go a lot of places for my job. You can't imagine what the state pays to insure this car."

Monty got out and leaned against the outside of the car. A group of ten-year-olds came down the street yelling at each other, and Monty saw that they were wearing Colors.

"Get the fuck outta my air space, Darin," one of the girls said, "I done told you, get your nasty nose pickin' fingers off'a me."

"You can put yo nasty pussy pickin' fingers on that fat cousin you got," a different girl shouted.

"I ain't even playin' with you no more," Darin said, "punk-ass ho."

Mr. Broder stood next to Monty, and when the group passed he took a step toward the building, nudging him along.

Monty reached into his pocket and pretended to unlock the door. Mr. Broder followed him in and said nothing, like he'd seen it everyday. The smell was even more offensive than Monty remembered and with Mr. Broder a step behind he felt more ashamed than vindicated. The old man with the camp stove was passed out on the second floor landing and when Monty rounded the corner Mr. Broder crouched to his side and felt for breath beneath his nose.

"Sir?" he said. There was no answer. "Sir, I'm just going to roll you onto your side, okay? If you can hear me, I'm just going to roll you onto your side so you don't choke."

Monty watched as Mr. Broder took hold of the man's canvas jacket and rolled him to face the wall.

At the fifth floor they knocked but there was no response, and when they tried the door it was locked. They stood facing the door, waiting for something to happen and when Mr. Broder's phone rang he flipped it open and saw that it was Tammy. She was on a ski trip with friends from school, staying in the condo of her freshman year roommate. Milton Academy was only forty-five minutes away but Tammy was always getting her off-campus permissions revoked and he'd figured out by the end of her first semester that impromptu visits were only fun for him. In the fall and spring he was at all her cross-country and track meets, screaming with ballistic cheer, but in the winter he hardly saw her at all. He looked at Monty, the flattened running shoes hanging loosely on his feet. He hadn't complained once.

They walked slowly down the stairs, each occupied by their own thoughts. On the second floor, the man with the stove sat against the wall rocking his head from side to side.

"Gone, gone, gone," he said, eyes drifting around the floor. "Yo Daddy, he got his shit last night. He be long gone."

Neither said a word and they walked to the car, knowing the man was right, that in fact, he'd long been gone.

In the car, Monty looked out the window, a shadow of relief falling over his face. Mr. Broder took a couple turns away from Cottage Farm, and found a spot down the block from City Sports and cut the engine.

"You'll need some new shoes. And a backpack," he said. And there would be rules. He thought. And expectations. He looked at Monty. "And a coat. We'll get you what you need."

Monty nodded his head and looked at his lap. He sniffed the tears that were falling from his nose.
The men sat in the car, waiting. For instructions. Directions. For some reason not to believe it would be okay. "And we'll need to get something better for your feet," Mr. Broder said. At least the exterior was something he could resolve. He reached across Monty's shoulder and rubbed his head in the way father's do. He felt the place where the tangerine bump had been the first day of fourth grade. It was smooth now, under his coarse, adult hair, and Monty nodded his head, wiped the tears from his face.

Mr. Broder unlocked the car and got out, and watched as Monty carefully removed his feet from the car. The shoes were so big, and Monty looked at them, and thought, maybe one day they'd fit.

Photo Credit: ginnerobot on Flickr

About the author: Kara Weiss is in her second year at the MFA program at the University of Washington. She received the Ingam Prize for fiction, which has provided her with full funding and a monthly stipend for the 2008-2009 academic year. We think this rocks.