I take the turn at 70 mph onto Rose St. looking for a lavender house. That’s blue. That’s green. Lavender is like purple isn’t it? Fucking colors. If it isn’t red, white or blue, nobody has seen it since it since this fucking war. I reach the end of Rose St. and no lavender house. Using all my self control I squeeze on the front brake of my Honda instead of pulling and cursing.
Oh Goddamnit! Was it a rose colored house on Lavender St!?
My sweat is dried and my forehead is salty and sticky. It’s hot. I’ve been riding in this sun all day. My forearms will look rye toast next to my mozzarella cheese biceps tonight. I’m hungry too. Even some water will be good. The first thing I’m going to do after I kill this Sherman guy is have a glass of ice water. Maybe a grill cheese sandwich.
Alright, so I’ll take this left and keep heading on Smith and then maybe I’ll see Lavender. These enclosed communities make me so sick for the people in them. They’ve got such artificial positivity living in cookie cutter houses. All with these tones of color I wouldn’t even use on an Easter egg.
Alright, here’s Lavender. I take the turn at 35. Shouldn’t be far. That’s what the guy said. It shouldn’t be far on Lavender St. A few houses pass. That’s yellow. That’s mauve. I can’t believe I know mauve. Mauve is like a red, right? I think that’s teal. Samantha used to say all the names of the colors when she was trying to decorate the house. Trying to domesticate me. As if knowing the names of the colors would be enough. Knowledge doesn’t make you who you are.
Lavender! Yes. There it is and there is his piece of shit Ford Escort in the driveway. You’re a dead mutherfucker, Sherman — whatever you did.
I cruise by slow in third and look straight ahead. I stick out enough in this neighborhood. I don’t need him seeing me looking in the living room window or he’ll know something’s up.
I round the corner and pass a few cars before I pull in and park. The air is thick in my helmet, so I open my face mask to breathe easier. I get off and undo my chinstrap. My legs are like jelly after that ride and my ass hurts. Walking and standing feels weird. Surreal. I bounce up and down on the balls of my feet to get the blood circulating. I wonder if all tall people have problems with circulation or just me. I guess it depends on the size of your heart too.
Pins and needles now. In my feet, so I wiggle my toes. I unzip my saddle bag and take a look around. Green rectangular lawns, blue asphalt and white front porches but no people. I take the .38 out of the bag and shove it in the pocket of my leather vest. I think about melted mozzarella cheese.
My riding boots make a clop sound on the sidewalk. It’s like a horse trotting. What was that old joke? Clop, Clop, Clop, BANG! Clop-clop, Clop-clop. The Amish drive-by. I wonder who thought of that and how long it took them. Maybe it started out as a longer joke with a bunch of unnecessary crap in there and then get distilled down to the meat. Just the sounds and the title.
I turn to walk up towards the red house next door. The driveway is empty and I’m pretty sure they’re not home. I duck down at their bushes and start to crawl along the grass towards Sherman’s side window. Crouched, I rise slowly and peek over the sill.
There’s a leather couch, a couple of paintings on the wall and a coffee table. Everything is clean and neat in his living room. Whatever he did to earn this contract, it wasn’t being a messy husband. I slide open the screen, pushing it up. I press my fingers against the glass and push up. It opens and I push from the bottom. Plastic windows are quiet.
I forgot to take off my boots. I crouch back down and undo the leather straps. I heard the breeze blowing through the blinds of the open window. Sherman might have heard that.
The leather’s tight from being in the heat. I roll onto my back and kick out my leg pulling hard on the strap to release the buckle. He could be in there right now getting his gun if he has one. I pull off my right boot and roll again pulling on the left. It comes off easier.
I put my hand up over the sill. I half expect him to grab it or shoot it. Nothing happens except more breeze blowing past my hand into those vinyl blinds and the clickety clack noise. I rise up and peer over the sill and then lift my dirty white sock over it. I find the string and pull up the blinds. I’m inside, so I pull out my gun.
From my spot by the window, I can see into the dining room which opens into the kitchen. Plastic. You could make all of these rooms from plastic, or Legos even — if you had the time. No lights are on. No noise. Just the wind. My stomach growls.
I walk across the living room towards the landing of the stairs. It’s only 1 p.m. maybe he’s still asleep.
The steps are carpeted. Samantha ordered carpets. Periwinkle blue ones which I actually liked. I think Periwinkle Blue is the only color she ever told me about that I liked. Man if she could’ve cooked — well, that whole relationship might’ve worked out. She burned every fucking thing. How was I supposed to believe in the house and the nine to five job and asshole in-laws and our son…when she couldn’t even cook? I cock the hammer and put my dirty sock on the first step.
I step over the possible creaky landing to the third step. It creaks. Fucking carpet. I take the fifth and seventh quicker and after a couple more I’m in the upstairs hall. There’s two closed doors. Maybe both are bedrooms. One has a “Do Not Disturb” sign hanging on the outside. That’s probably a kid’s room. I turn the handle on the other. I push it to find a bedroom. The bedroom. The empty bedroom. Complete with a nicely made king size bed, an open window and Sherman’s picture on the big wood dresser. Hell that’s the same picture I’ve got in my pocket only mine’s smaller. It’s probably his favorite picture of himself. I bet Sherman’s wife’s got something to do with this.
The blinds crash down against the window frame. I focus again on the open window. The breeze blowing the blinds. I know it was supposed to rain here this afternoon. I got my rain gear in my saddle bag. And it’s wide open. I walk up to it and see that it goes out onto a roof. There are deep footprints down in the dirt below.
I walk back to the stairs and down the steps listening to the creak. I guess I could blame the boots but this whole thing was sloppy. Hell, the guy at the gate might have even tipped him off. I’ll have to bring that up with him. Ray was his name.
I walk across the living room, through the dining room and into the kitchen. The only redeeming quality of this house is the big window over the sink. It overlooks the backyard. Surprisingly big for a cookie cutter like this.
Fantastic! He’s got beer in the fridge. Imported stuff too. I twist off the cap and take a slug. American cheese! Good old yellow American cheese. I wonder when they’ll start making that in red, white and blue. It’ll go well with that wheat bread I spotted on the way in.
I put two slices in the toaster so that they don’t get all mushy when I microwave them. Beer tastes good after a variety of things but sitting on a bike for four hours is at the top of the list. The toaster tells me the bread is ready. I’ll use two…no, let’s go three slices of cheese. Forty five seconds in the microwave and I’ll be all set. Another sip. Still really good.
The microwave dings and I pull out the plate. After this, I’ll grab his mail and go through his stuff. Figure out where he might be heading now.
The first crunch into a toasted grill cheese is the best one. My eyes usually roll back. I put the plate down by the sink, pick up the sandwich. My mouth opens and my eyes don’t roll back. I take the bite and the cheese melts towards the back of my throat. My eyes stay fixated on Sherman, barefoot and hiding in his neighbor’s tree.
I think for a moment if I have time to eat this whole thing.
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Portland Fiction Project
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