Sunday, June 26, 2016

Standpipe: Delivering Water In Flint

I like a sucker.  A simple statement I don’t understand even as it is being spoken.  I certainly don’t interpret it as a request, which it certainly is.  Part of the problem the speaker, a boy of eight or nine, is inaudible to me, an older man with moderate hearing loss.  The other element contributing to our impasse is the State Police cruiser three doors down, lights blazing, the first minutes of a traffic stop in this forlorn neighborhood.  Three boys sit on a low wall in front of a house next door to the one we’re here to visit.  Neighbors, out on porches to escape the heat, observe the drama unfolding between the trooper and the occupant of the suspect vehicle.   My partner, a retired nurse, signals to me from the front porch the amount of water needed by the residents living here.  We dispatch our duty quickly and efficiently.  The boys, their faces alive with equal measures of sweetness and mischief like two fitted lobes of hide on a rotating baseball, watch us return to the ERV, swing shut the doors.  Again, I like a sucker, only this time it’s directed to my female counterpart.   Oh, I’m so sorry sweetheart.  I haven’t got a sucker for you today.  Even I heard him clearly this time.  Carefully, I pull away from the curb, ease the ERV around the tableau of pulsating cruiser and small sedan.  All four doors open wide to the world, the sweating trooper, beefy hands encased in gelatin green surgical gloves, picks through contents of the front compartment.   The driver, a slight young woman in her early twenties, stands handcuffed at the front of her car, levels a glare as we pass.  Suckers, colorful marbles of sugar on a stick done up in a party twist, enduring simple pleasures, moments a patient child can extend into sweet eternity. 

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