The Bratwurst King of Palace Avenue
by P. James Trobaugh
Go Wikipedia Pick’s Disease yourself pal, I’m not going to help you. Big John, our block Captain, made sure the grins and brats were passed out evenly from the other side of his Weber on National Night Out. Schlitz for you, and strawberry-rhubarb pie, bub. Big John liked it savory and sweet, and never failed to mention his fighter pilot brother. And the other brother, the theology professor. Big John learned how to repair watches. Raised five kids and sent them all to college. Fell in love only once, and it took.
Across-the-street-Alice went to high school with Bart Starr’s son, did you know that? She pickles eggs on the side. Can she help it if she looks like that teacher who had sex with her student? That’s all in the past now, so squirt some more mustard on.
The cops come a calling; Burt and Tyrone. Car break-ins are up, so don’t leave your valuables. They show the little kids the inside of the squad, turn on the siren. The kids are happy and the parents look for their beers, a quick gulp before storytime.
Christ, it’s hot out tonight. Must be still over 90. Fetid and warm, in 8 weeks there could be snow on the ground. So, enjoy it now, those sticky sheets, the breeze that only confuses you, the Sun that just won’t shut the hell off.
College wife and hubby turn up, with an offering of curry Waldorf salad. Tepid takers and flies begin to collect. Hubby likes his comics. Marvel boy, no DC for him. He can get you some Thor half-priced at his used bookstore, it you’re into that. “Score you some Thor,” he says, giggling at his own joke.
Big John was taking it all in, his thoughts ever expanding on the goodness of his neighbors. He lost his job that week, and then took to going to Mass every blessed day and walking in ever smaller circles around the neighborhood. He remembered it all, right to the end.
He just couldn’t shut off that damn Sun.