Randa and I walk over to the apartments toward the end of a long Saturday that began with waffles before six-thirty. Soon after that, I was on my way to the recycling center with a month’s collection of bottles, cans and newspapers and a winter’s worth of cardboard. Picking up feed for the horses and the cat in proportional amounts rounded out the return trip. Then, I worked on the guest bath: making, painting and installing trim. I changed oil in the pickup and worked on Reese’s little wooden sailboat. Randa spent the day shopping and sewing. We were both tired but I felt a tugging toward this visit.
After slipping between the wires of the horse fence, we walked along the old lane in the shadows of elm and maple. As we slipped down the steep bank to the flat of the apartment lawn, I saw Barry taking trash to the dumpster. He was back to his apartment before we reached the parking lot.
Screenless windows stand open as does the door, an indicator on a warm day that either the air conditioner isn’t working or the electricity has been shut off. I know that in this case, it is the latter. His girlfriend just sold her car to pay toward the rent they owed.
Another item on the list of things Barry has not been able to buy during his unemployment is the medicine he needs for some psychological issues. “When he’s on his meds, he does great,” his girlfriend explained. “When he ain’t, look out! He’s a real bear.”
After months of unemployment, now, Barry has finally found a job through a temp service. He works in a huge freezer all day, loading fifty-pound boxes of frozen food into truck trailers, his toes getting number by the hour. Three times last week, he walked the twelve miles to work at Saint Joseph.
Poor, maybe. Dented by life and scarred by bad choices, definitely. Lazy? I’ll forgo the entirely appropriate expletive here and just say “No!”