Estate Sale: Saturday

Everyone moves through the house as shy as deer. There is an animal wariness of being in another family’s kitchen and den, a silent and criminal thrill standing in a master bedroom closet, where brass-buttoned sports coats and striped dress shirts hang, as though the house were listening for a tornado. Even the ties, tangled like snakes in a wicker basket, look like they've paused for the moment.      

I have come along with my wife because I want something from my past. A country club hat. A slide projector. Binoculars in a cracked tan-leather case. Golf shoes with fringed tongues and metal spikes. A heavy silver flashlight. I have come looking for my 1970s father and thus my 1970s me.

I find only The Emphasized Gospel of John, with a blood-red cover, pocket-sized as a business card. I pick a worn copy of Jaws, and in the garage among tools, I find a small velvet box with two decks of playing cards divided trimly inside. The same portrait on both decks—the profile of a champion horse, turning its head toward the artist, a white fence in the background and a foggy infield behind the fence. The horse has the look of a Derby winner except for how the bit is making its bottom teeth show. The horse smiles. The smile turns secretive the longer I look.

“How much for the haul?” I ask as we leave.

“Call it one dollar,” the man at the table says.

“Awfully rich,” I say. I hand him the money.

“We can finally shut the operation down now,” he says.

Bird Report

Hawks. Coming and going. On the power lines. In the trees. Circling above a Steak and Shake in front of a strip mall. NPR tells me this is the “flirting” season for owls. For hawks?

My wife drives. I get a passing look at a burly hawk in an ornamental tree in a front yard by the road. The tree is small. The hawk is out of place and proportion, and his fierceness is diminished: an executioner waiting for a bus.