Saturday, February 11, 2006

Potato gun


Waylin, a heavy man in his
mid-40s, carried his usual
mouth-open, eye-wandering
expression though the front
door and into the living room.
Maggie the Mutt circled
around him, sniffing his legs
and shoes as he sat in the big
chair by the window. Actu
ally, he didn't sit in the chair
but perched his bulk on the
chair's edge.
Gramps said, ``Hi, Waylin.
How's it going.'' And glanced
again at the television, tuned
to the U.S. Open with Agassi
playing Dent.
When Mary Lou had ar
rived earlier, he'd turned off
the TV's sound but let the
picture play. He glanced at
the picture often, to keep
track of the score. He wanted
Agassi to win, and he'd lost
the first set in a tie-breaker.
Mary Lou is Gramp's and
Granny's daughter and
Waylin's ex-wife. Mary Lou
sat on another chair in the
living room. She had taken
Granny to the emergency
room earlier that morning.
Gramps had left the house at
6 a.m. to take his son Billy
Bob to Ellensburg to buy a
car, which the seller was haul
ing over from Tacoma, or
halfway between his place
and Walla Walla.
Granny had stayed in bed
for awhile. When she got up,
she felt funny, with a numb
ness in her hands and arms.
She'd been unable to open the
lid to the coffee maker be
cause she couldn't make her
hands function properly.
She'd called Mary Lou and
been unable to express her
self clearly. Mary Lou had
rushed her to the hospital.
She'd improved after being
told she'd experienced a mini-
stroke.
Gramps had been back
home for about an hour when
Waylin arrived.
``How do you feel,'' Waylin
asked Granny.
``I'm fine now,'' she said. ``I
feel a lot better.''
Waylin, Granny and Mary
Lou talked, and Gramps split
his attention between listen
ing, nodding and watching
the tennis score.
After awhile, and after a
segway that Gramps didn't
catch, he heard Waylin talk
ing about him and Erskine
deciding to make a potato
gun.
Erskine was Gramp's
youngest son, who would be
closing in on 40.
Gramps looked at Waylin
and saw a businesslike,
unsmiling expression on his
face.
``We drove over to Lumber
man's and bought some PC
pipe for $7.57,'' Waylin said.
``We went to Bi-Mart and
bought an igniter, like you use
in a Coleman lantern. And%2

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