11,041 vagabonds plus:
the perfect day
It was pointless for Helena to look at the thermometer outside the kitchen sink window at four o'clock. Same as the unnecessary trot around to the round thermometer nailed to the shadow side of the main barn, the red barn that was as red as in a famous painting cordoned off in a museum, that everyone, one hundred percent of the time, could hit the broadside with any sized object they might want to heave. It was seventy-one degrees, and the rain gauge showed the overnight one point four inch pristine liquid average promised in three sacred almanacs Helena had read, her eyes the color of all cloudless skies even when she was weeping in all her joy.
At five eighteen on Tuesday, or it could've been Wednesday, they ran together you know, her son, Elmer, had already taken two bites of creamy mash potatoes, the fork paused at his mouth with the third as Bud, the faithful family collie placed two gentle well-combed paws onto his lap and smiled.
"Down, Boy", Elmer said automatically, and Bud got down and tapped danced over to his rug and circled twice before coming to the rest position. Automatically. Just like it was in the cards that in one short hour Elmer would get on his bike with properly inflated tires to race down the rock-free pasture lane towards the school house auditorium, slash gym, for basketball practice. Along the route he'd wave and whistle to his neighbor, Slim Nesselrod, out in the gently rolling field unswervingly fidgeting with a sharp pitchfork in clean overalls.
Practice was required by Coach Bodwell although it was unnecessary since Elmer made all his baskets, like his teammates, without the ball touching the rim, netted all free-throws, and blocked every shot into the waiting hands of his teammates despite being cross-eyed and one leg three inches shorter than the other. Along the way, with the Sun behind him and sparrows calling one another to nest, there was just the slightest hump in that pasture shortcut near the oft-painted white church where he would speed up and go airborne for a few short moments like he wasn't suppose to, his mother had warned him to be safe, but he liked a little fun. Just that protruding mound where Elmer had buried the body of the tax collector that his mother had only tried to frighten with a shotgun. Bud had frantically tried to help Elmer dig that day, you know, panting real hard. Good Boy.
Thomas Hart Benton
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