Monday, June 27, 2016

Standpipe: Delivering Water In Flint

According to the Garmin it’s coming up on the left.  The yard surrounding the adjacent, boarded up shell trails off into a vine and bramble choked vacant lot.  But there, tucked into gloom at the back of the lot stands a low shed that looks to have once served the lesser needs of timber and rail interests.  Posted on a planked outbuilding in the middle distance is a warning, Beware Of Dog.  The woman in need, the person we seek, stands in her dooryard.  She must see the ERV, surely hears the cheerful double toot of the horn.  Fifty feet from the truck, approaching the dwelling, I ask after her dog.  The woman makes for the open door of the shed on a walker, upper body supporting most of her weight, toes trailing feint calligraphy in the dust.  Back turned to me, I don’t understand her reply.  Her hair is child’s scribble with a fat, violet crayon, arms fleshy and tattooed.  We’ve surprised her policing up her yard in the early afternoon.  She’s tucked an empty water bottle into her waist band, grips another in her mouth.  I half expect the crossed eyes of a vaudeville bugler.  There is no dog.  Minutes later we’re all inside, kitchen and living area one big room, back bedroom tacked on, barely separate.  The walls are hung with dozens of tiny hand twisted gewgaws, small icons, candles everywhere, nineteenth century occult trappings balanced against stacked cases of water and a few appliances.  She wants thirteen cases, her lucky number, date of her birth.  You have a pretty good supply on hand I say, warn her about weight distribution.  Will eight cases hold you until next week?  She shrugs, smiling.  We distribute ten cases around the room, prepare to leave.  She asks, did you give me get thirteen?  Says, I was born on the thirteenth of the month.  Securing the hand truck in the rear of the ERV, a car approaches, slows down.  The passenger, a man of indeterminate age, a character out of Tolkien, long grey hair, sharp features, leans out.  She okay, meaning just what in the hell is going on here?  A cottage deep in a wood, an old woman branded by village rumor, wolves on the prowl and the woodcutter, true of heart, ax in hand, keeping an eye on things.

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