He didn’t know what to make of it. Hearing the hammering outside, knowing now that the last window was boarded up. It had been the secret little doorway to his new home. And now he was stuck. There would be no getting out without finding something to pry one of those big foreclosure boards off one of the doors or the windows. Man, they put those things on tight, he thought. Everybody’s so worried about squatters.
He’d worry about it in the morning. It made him sad, though, that he was missing his meeting with the lady. Oh, for sure, she didn’t think much of his new digs. The look on her face when she dropped him off yesterday was a twisted up mess of disgust and pity. Just because she helped him now and then, well, okay, helped him every day, meeting him on the corner and taking him to McDonald’s, as nice as that was, it didn’t mean she was in charge of him even though she kind of acted that way. She tried not to but it seeped out of her anyway.
It irked him, thinking about her looking at her phone in her lap after he’d gotten out of the car. It felt like she was reporting him for something or looking up directions for the next step in handling him and his situation. It wasn’t the plan, she’d told him. The plan was to find a proper place to live, someplace with a door with a key and people to help him. He had complex needs that needed a comprehensive approach. She’d been saying that for months. In the meantime, they had been going to McDonald’s everyday. That was the only need they dealt with, the chicken nuggets and fries need.
He sat down on the kitchen floor and unwrapped his jackets. The heat from the oven was starting to warm the room. He wondered why the gas company hadn’t shut off the line and he thought about cooking. Maybe if he could find some pots and pans, he could cook something. He could go to Freddy’s Market on the corner and buy something to cook. If he did that, it would smell good in the house. It would smell like the old days when his wife cooked. He liked it when he used to come from work and the house smelled good from her cooking. What was it she cooked? He couldn’t remember.
The kitchen was almost pitch black now, the only light coming from the tiny flames from the oven coil and a thread of light from the streetlamp that had snuck through two of the boards nailed across the outside of the kitchen windows. He was glad he’d left his rum here instead of hauling it around in his duffle bag. Knowing it was here under the sink waiting for him made the place feel pretty homey even considering the unusual circumstances. Rum always gives off such a holiday feel, he thought, as he pulled open the cupboard doors and reached in. He felt around in the dark, pushing the rusty can of Comet and the grimy rags out of the way, finally feeling the glass in the back under the drain pipe, laying on its side. He pulled the half-gallon bottle out, held it in the tiny light of the oven and saw that it was empty.
Empty, completely empty. He didn’t know what to make of it.