In the neighborhood where Henry lived, automobiles were often put out to pasture in overgrown backyards, suspended over patches of sun-starved and brown grass, or higgledy-piggledy on one block or two, wherever they were left, like pensioners strapped for cash. They rarely moved, just stayed there like that, remembering the good old days, Henry thought, days of speed and love and shine, when all their parts worked (or when they had all their parts). Sometimes he patted them as he walked by, speaking softly to them, thinking it would help them to know someone cared. "Nice shine you have today, Astro," he said, letting his hand fall along the hood from grille to windshield. "Take care of yourself."
Henry liked how one backyard lapped over another, making for a sense of community, if you will, where folk like himself, harmless enough, could roam free, take shortcuts, or admire backyard additions from time to time. Today, like every day, he was taking the backyard shortcut back from Elam, from the 7-11, where he went to buy a Cheerwine. Henry stopped by the McCaffrey's garage and turned the bottle of Cheerwine up to the sky and took a long draw of the deep red liquid, letting it flood his mouth. Bringing it down again, he said "that's good, damn that's good," making a mental note to check his supply when he got home.
He stopped and leaned down to pet the Griffin's dog, Bozo, a mixed lab-shepherd-terrier, if there is such a thing. Grif had hit Bozo one time too many in the head with a rolled-up newspaper. "Poor Bozo. What's up today, Bozo?" And there sat Bozo, looking up at Henry with his best nobody home look, tongue out, panting. "Aw, I know what you want, you rascal." Henry brought his Cheerwine bottle down and poured a bit into Bozo's mouth. Bozo lapped it greedily. "You the only dog I know likes Cheerwine, Bozo. You're smart. You're no dummy." Henry gave Bozo a pat, and another, on the head, and walked on across the Griffin's backyard, whistling a song to himself, something sprightly and hopeful, Bozo following along behind. (to be continued)
[I'm not sure where Henry came from, but I've been thinking about Cheerwine today. The only restaurant in town that has it on tap stopped selling it, and I'm a little upset about it. I guess I better write it out, you know. But really, I needed to write something different, and while it's odd to publish this quickly something that needs developing, stay tuned.]