Like fire on a house III

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It was Jack’s family who lived in the rental across from the units. They’d had trouble from day one, both inside and outside the house.

His stepdad threw Jack’s mum around a lot and kept her on the usual leash. When Jack visited our house one Christmas afternoon, his head was bleeding from being thrown up against the aquarium by that man. His mother had gone without food to pay for presents.

So we invited Jack to mow our lawns. I’d suggested ten dollars payment, but he’d shook his head. Too much. He insisted on being paid five dollars front and back, since he was convinced we needed the money.

Ten years old, he used to ride past our house once a week to check if the lawns needed mowing. He was always happy to get the mower out of the shed, start it up himself and get into it…

At school, he would shout at teachers, and storm down the corridors with a furrowed brow. He used to punch and head-butt walls. And go for long, long walks, far from where his name was being muttered by the grown-ups in the staff room.

At our house, he’d put the mower away, take his shoes off at the back door and come in for a cordial. Never asked for money, either. He’d just raise his eyebrows at me and smile.

Originally published in Godfings (2011).

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~ by Daniel Townsend on April 4, 2013.

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