“I hate to charge so much,” he says, “but I’ve got a lot of work to do,
gutting it and all.”
“I’m just glad you’ll take it.”
Then he jumps in his truck and pulls out into the street, in the same
direction the woman walked four hours before. She and the trailer are
finally gone. If something like this ever happens again, I decide, there
will be no phone calls. We’ll wait until dark, tow the abandoned vehicle
out into the street, and let the city deal with the problem. The glass pipe
still sits on the ground in a cluster of puncturevine. I consider picking it
up and tossing it in the dumpster behind Starbucks, but I don’t want to
touch it and don’t have any gloves with me. So I leave it there next to the
charred piece of driftwood. A stray cat crouches on the other side of the
street in front of the neighbor’s house, staring at the empty parking lot,
at me, twitching its tail.
“I’m sorry,” I tell it foolishly, “there’s nothing I could do.”Two days after I have him trespassed, I read in the newspaper that theman in the trailer, M—, has been arrested and charged with five felonies:grand theft, possession of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of afirearm, acquiring a financial transaction card with intent to defraud,and introducing major contraband into the jail. He’s forty-three, threeweeks older than me. The trespass order lists April 27 as his birthday,the same day my father and I first confronted him. If I hadn’t forced himfrom the trailer, would things be different for him now? Did the trespassorder derail him, send him spiraling back into old habits? But then Ireread his charges—possession of methamphetamine, grand theft, unlawful possession of a firearm—and I wonder if he had the gun tuckedinside his coat the morning my father and I told him to leave. I thinkabout my father at the shop: six am, bent over a table, his back to thetrailer and the man and woman inside. My father keeps his car keys inhis front pocket, his wallet inside the cab of his truck. Things could haveturned out so differently.
That same afternoon, after work, I’m waiting at the edge of the parking lot to exit onto the street, when I see her. The woman wears her jeansrolled to midcalf, her sandy hair pulled away from her face. She carries amessenger bag and a plastic grocery sack. She walks slowly, deliberately.The sun is warm, her face red. She passes in front of my car and glancesat me. Then she looks again more closely. Narrows her eyes. She scowls.Heat rises to my cheeks, and I look away. I halfway expect her to start