The cut code doesn't seem to be working even though it is cut and pasted from all the others. Hmm. Anyway.
<cut text="Day 7”>
Vince Twoknives was tall and wide and solid from shoulders to knees. Like his grandfather, his auntie told him. Vince had been named for his grandfather but had never seen a picture of him to compare himself to.
“Just like him,” his auntie insisted. “Like he was born again.” She had said the same thing as long as Vince could remember.
“How did he die?” Vince had asked once when he was a chubby little kid. His aunt had looked startled.
“Who said he was dead?” she asked. “I’m not sure the old man CAN die.”
“Where did he go then?” Vince had asked. He knew his mother was auntie’s little sister, the youngest daughter of the senior Vincent. He knew that she had married Matthew Twoknives against the his wishes. He knew he had been named Vincent to appease the old man. He had heard of how it hadn’t been enough to keep Old Vincent from killing Matthew when he found him drunk one night.
“I’m not sure of that either,” she said, fumbling for a cigarette so she wouldn’t have to look at him. He had been smart enough to realize that she either really didn’t know and that worried her, or she did know and was afraid of what would happen if she said. Grandpa Vincent had made himself scarce after the death of his son-in-law. All pictures of him had disappeared as well.
Growing up a fan of the old Star Wars movies, Vince had amused himself as a kid imagining his Grandpa like Obi-Wan Kenobi wandering the wastes. If was nice to think that if he ever had to go out there and was in trouble, his Grandpa Vincent would appear to help him.
No one ever talked about his mother. He didn’t know where she had gone or why. He wondered if she was dead too, and no one wanted to say it.
He was thirty-two now. He had see much better and much worse movies and come to realize that there wasn’t any mystery or romance to it. There wasn’t a statute of limitations on murder and if his grandpa didn’t want to go to jail, he had to stay very much elsewhere. He had given up hope of ever meeting him. Wherever his mother was, he no longer expected an explanation of that either.
One of his classmates had a runaway dad, and they hadn’t know where he was until he had died in a car wreck in Spokane and his next of kin had been notified. Vince thought maybe that would be what happened with his mom someday. Something would happen and they would have to let him know. It hadn’t happened yet.
Auntie was in her seventies. They were both still living on the reservation. He had a job carrying things in a delivery warehouse an hour from home and was largely neutral towards it. Carrying things was easy and he didn’t have to talk to anybody. He headed home afterwards and ate whatever was hot at the Calico Kitchen on the way.
It was one night, two thirds of the way through a bowl of stew and some fry bread that it occurred to him that he didn’t want to do this anymore. He didn’t really have anyone to talk about it with. It was a Friday and that meant Bingo Night and that meant he wouldn’t hear from Auntie until noon the next day.
By then, he had processed it on his own.
There was a big shipment in at work on Monday, and the employees worked in teams to unload it and get it in the right parts of inventory. Vince couldn’t think of the name of the guy he was working with, but he was friendly. He filled up the silence with all kinds of conversations. They started out one-sided, but he was able to coax some response out of Vince after awhile. Maybe he was just that good at drawing people out, or maybe Vince was just ready to talk about it with someone. Either way, he ended up telling the guy all about the growing compulsion to be somewhere else.
“Like a goose call, I guess,” he said, suddenly remembering to be self-conscious but still too stubborn to back down now. “Whatever tells them it’s time to fly home?”
“Back east?” the guy said. He hefted a box easily and walked over to the palette. “Everybody is from the east originally.”
“I’m not,” Vince said. The guy set down his load and looked him over with a thoughtful squint.
“South, then?” he guessed.
“You think I’m Hispanic,” Vince said. It wasn’t the first time. He had also been mistaken for Korean, Filipino, Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Samoan, and Chinese.
“I’m a Southerner myself,” the guy said, grinning like it was an inside joke. Maybe it was a euphemism that Vince didn’t know about.
“Don’t sound like it,” was all he said.
“Nobody really says fiddle-dee-dee, you asshole,” the guy said good-naturedly. “And if you go deep enough, you bypass Southern entirely. Look at Florida.”
“I’d rather not,” Vince said. He had never been, but the couple that wintered there and worked here in the summer while they did motorcycle trips across the country complained about it the whole time they were here. Even though, they always went back.
“Hah!” the guy said the word instead of just laughing. A minute later, he was called to another truck and Vince was ridiculously glad to be rid of him once he was gone. He hadn’t noticed it when he was there, but once the guy was out of reach, some kind of dread lingered. It made him think of the Skinwalker stories the big kids would tell him before a grown up heard and came to hush them. It was probably irreverent to compare the two, but the same unclean unease was there.
He wondered if there was some ritual he could do, some way to cleanse himself of the stranger’s passing. Maybe he could just leave. He already wanted to go. This was as good an excuse as any. But how? And where did he think he was going? Home? This was home, the only one he had ever known.
Maybe there was somewhere else, though, some part of his mind thought. Somewhere I actually would want to be. Maybe even want to belong to. I could set up Auntie in my place, sell hers, and use the money to get his truck up for the trip.
Trip to where? he asked himself again, but something inside him already knew the answer. Wherever it was that the geese went. He could tell that to Auntie. She would probably want him to get the tribal elder’s blessing. They didn’t mean anything to him, but it would make her happy. She’d like living in his place. It was all one level and the bathroom was right next to the bedroom. No stairs.
It would also keep him from coming back. He couldn’t let Auntie get comfortable and then show back up and expect her to leave. Whatever happened, he would have no choice but to start over somewhere else. New job, new place to live, whatever it was, it wouldn’t be this.