Friday, August 12, 2016


June 8, 2016.  No doubt about it, this is the real thing.   A place where things do not necessarily go better with a sugary soft drink.  A neighborhood hostile to even the most sincere effort to teach it to sing in perfect harmony.  All morning long we weave a haphazard web in this forgotten corner of the city.  Check house numbers, veer to curbs, jump from the cab.  This is not a block that invites the soul to linger.  This house, though consumptive in appearance like its neighbors, is distinguished by neat red and white trim.  Coke signs hang in the window, a Coke plaque on the door next to a handwritten note, Please Go To Back Door.  I walk around back, my sight line to the ERV blocked.  No sign of a dog, but another Coke sign in a back window.  Knock repeatedly, no answer.  Satisfied no one is home, I beat back to the truck.  Coming even with the corner of the house, a late modal sedan sweeps into view, wheels into the driveway.  The windows are tinted opaque, bass thumps from inside, reverberates in my chest.  Suddenly, my reflective Red Cross Disaster Relief vest feels gossamer thin like a last minute Halloween costume, one of the lessor super heroes.   Three young men exit the vehicle.  Red Cross, water, I say, consider saying again like a protective mantra.  One of them enters the house through the front, steps back out.  His mother, she’s not home.  Eight cases of water and Britta replacement cartridges.  Inside its dim, curtains drawn, the air still and close, silence a disinterested third party.   Coca-Cola memorabilia hangs everywhere.  Walls painted red and white.  There’s a big illuminated Coke clock on the wall in the tiny kitchen.  Classic Coke rug.  When I ask, the young man grins and shakes his head.  His mother is crazy for the stuff.  Grew up in Atlanta, worked at corporate H.Q.  I don’t ask in what capacity.  We stand together for a moment longer taking it all in, me for the first time, her son, perhaps, nursing a familiar ambivalence.  How to appease a conflicted southern heritage, an old woman’s pride, deep abiding love.    

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