Pap Pap, why did you have to tell us what your neighbor was carrying in that brown paper bag. You could have lied or just ignored the question. Yeah, we saw the frantic motion. But the cries were muffled. We might have been able to drown that memory along with the tiny, unsuspecting kittens that were dropped from the bridge that night. The river was calm; a sheet of glass that reflected the dastardly deed heavenward. That memory of the mighty Ohio just swallowing them up without so much as a ripple of protest, remains as vivid as it was sixty years ago. What were you thinking?
Another weekend drop off at the Grandparents. We travel across the suspension bridge and down Zane St, Wheeling Island’s paved connection between Ohio and WV. Last residence on the right. Pap Pap, waiting on the front porch with open arms. A careless wave dismisses mom and dad and Mimi and I skip up the splintered wooden steps. Hot, muggy afternoons melt into a familiar routine. They become the Refresh buttons on our otherwise, ordinary summer.
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First stop Pop Schultz’s sandwich shop where we devour lip-smacking white chicken sandwiches piled high between two slices of Italian bread. Before Pap Pap can finish his sandwich, we yank him across the street and make a beeline for the park on the Ohio’s back channel. A quick romp on the swings, then down to the river bank. Beneath the canopy of the lush old gnarled trees leaning into the water, we bask in the shade. Removing our shoes and socks, we wiggle our toes in the cool slow-moving water. Time washes downstream unnoticed. The echo of Pap pap’s last tale resonates in the encroaching dusk. Drifting off, I can still see the gypsy caravan parked across the river on the banks of the Ohio.