one of his fishing buddies, and gestures over his shoulder to where his
power saws and belt sanders sit in plain sight, next to his eighteen-foot
fishing boat and outboard motor. “I don’t want anything stolen.”
“Oh, I understand,” the man says. “I own a lot of expensive tools, too.”
I look at my father as if he’s lost his mind. Is he inviting the man to
The man retreats into the trailer, and the woman comes out withan empty gallon water jug. She looks straight ahead, pretending not tosee us either. She starts walking down the street toward 21st, a streetcrowded with car dealerships, fast-food chains, and payday loan centers.She looks about thirty, of average height and build, with shoulder-lengthsandy brown hair. Her jeans and fitted sage green top—at least, that’show I plan to describe her to the police—are ordinary.
“You can’t stay here,” I call to the back of her head. “We’re going to
tow the trailer away. Today. You need to get your stuff out.”
She glances back at me, smirks, and continues casually down the
street. I watch her cross the busy intersection and go into a gas station.
“We’re getting rid of it. Today,” I repeat to no one. The man sits insidethe trailer, and my father has returned to our table-making project at theother end of the shop. I look up the number to a towing operation withacres of used auto parts on the edge of town.
“Now who are you calling?” my father asks.
“Bernard’s. We haven’t tried him yet.”
“He’s a crook,” he says. “He tried to charge me $350 for a tow when I
broke down upriver only five miles out of town.”
“Good. Maybe he’ll take a free trailer.”
As I give the owner of the junkyard the address so he can come take
a look, the woman returns with the plastic jug, now full of water. She
pours a steady stream over the smoking piece of wood, shakes the re-
maining drops from the jug, caps it, and takes it with her into the trailer.
Another ten minutes pass. I listen to the man and woman bangingaround inside, a familiar sound. When I was young, my family owneda similar trailer and spent most weekends camping along Pend OreilleLake or the Clark Fork River. If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagineit’s my mother in there, rolling up sleeping bags, converting the bedsback into couches.
But I don’t close my eyes. The woman’s bags remain pressed againstthe rear window. Smoke wafts up from the driftwood. Then I notice thepipe on the ground. I’d assumed that my father had thrown it away.