On Another Porch
It was sunny, and it was hot. It
was July. The boy’s shirt was plastered to his back and he stood on the porch.
His feet were spread and his sweaty hands were clasped behind his back. He
watched the old man rock back and forth in his chair, a bible in one hand and a
rifle in the other. The bloodhound lay on the ground. His eyes were droopy and
red. The old man stared at the boy and pulled his bushy eyebrows together and
rocked back and forth.
“You wanna take my daughter out,
“Yes sir,” the boy said.
“And you’ve already asked her
without my permission?”
“…Yes sir,” the boy said.
“Hmmm…” The old man stroked his
chin. The old man set his bible on his knee and pulled the rifle into his lap.
“Do you know what kind of gun this
“No sir,” the boy said.
“This is an 1873 Winchester rifle. It’s worth more than you’ll
ever be, boy.”
“Do you even know how to use one of
“Keep sassin’ me boy, and we’ll
soon find out.”
The boy gulped. The daughter’s form
could be seen through the screen door. She was biting her lip. The boy shifted
his feet and the porch creaked. The old man’s eyes swiveled to each one in
turn. The bloodhound yawned, showing its white, sharp teeth, and then put his
head on his paws. His droopy skin folded over and covered his paws.
“I’ve made my decision,” said the
old man. The boy looked up hopefully.
“You’re just gonna have to wait a
couple years. Maybe longer.” The boy let his head drop, nodded silently, and
walked off the porch. The old man gave a knowing smile and went back into the
house. He patted his daughter’s shoulder and she wiped away a tear.
Ten hours later the sun was gone.
It was still hot. The boy’s black hair was hanging in wet strands in front of
his eyes because of the humidity. He stood beside the porch again, this time
with a handful of pebbles. He threw them one by one at the daughter’s window
until she opened it. She smiled and held a finger to her mouth, telling him to
be quiet. She came down and opened the door, meeting him on the porch. The
sound of them walking to his car hand-in-hand didn’t make much difference to
the old man, because he was asleep.