by Ree Young
Just before the next day began, a small man with sparse, light hair, a thin mustache, and rusty eyes, dressed in clothes that looked borrowed from someone larger, tapped at my door. “Need a ride home,” he said, his voice slurred, harsh, and high, pure alcohol turning to mist between him and the screen door. I told him I just couldn’t do that, but if he’d keep on walking east a couple miles, he’d come to the highway. Instead he lowered himself into the porch rocker for a rest and asked if I would call a certain number for someone to come pick him up. He said they knew him well.
So, I called the number, and the man who answered did know him. Sounded exasperated, too, like a parent with a wayward child.
When I came back to the front door, he was rocking away. He smiled and thanked me. He explained how some strange men in a pick-up--crew cab and 4x4, they’d bragged, with a 6.0 liter V8--had given him a lift. They'd poured him out a tin cup of something clear as ice, sweet and sharp all at the same time. He said that drinking it made his soul feel as if it had supernovaed. Educated talk for a raggy drunk, I thought. Then they dropped him off in the middle of nowhere, which was right here at my place.
Just then, a big black sedan pulled up in the drive. Two dark-suited men got out and waited. The small man stood with some effort and then navigated down the steps into the early morning light. Over his shoulder, he called another thank you. Then he stopped, turned back to me, and said, “You’re a kind-hearted lady, ma’am, for helping out a stranger. I’ll be sure to tell my friends.”