pearls around the neck • 75
drunk! But Bob, with the agility of a primate, came down from branch to branch and landed at my
“Luuuv it he’e!” He screamed in my face, with his beer-laden breath. “Ah’ll be back t’morrow, early.
Got a lot on maaa plate.”
And he kissed me.
The day after, no Bob.
The following day: a depressed Bob.
His eyes were red, and swollen, his unkempt, greasy hair was sticking out of his hat, his body was
slumped, yet he smiled and set to work. What tragedy had hit him in the past 48 hours?
I stayed home. I made him coffee and went to sit on the terrace. He joined me there.
Bob said nothing. He sipped his black coffee and lit a cigarette.
Time went by.
More time went by.
Time slowly healed him and he knew it; he had to let time pass. I watched him from the corner of my
eye. He was handsome. He had several scars on his face and a new cut in his neck. Time was going by
and then he got up and handed me his empty coffee cup. “Thanks. Ya make good coffee.” And he went
back to work.
I went back to my kitchen. Through the window, I could see the jade green Cadillac. There was a mass
laying down on the back seat, under a khaki green blanket. A human body, a man.
Holy shit…this was like something straight out of Steinbeck, Faulkner or Saint Clair, right in my
I stormed out, determined to ask Bob for some kind of explanation but he was peacefully moving rocks
to outline the banks of the pond.
He threw me a look filled with tenderness: “Ah know, the one in the car’s my son. He’s on probation
this week. He’ll be helpin’ me when he’s gonna wake up. Ya’ll like the guy, he’s a cool kid.”
Bob was a great master in the art of disconcerting me. I was stunned and once again, I just took it in.
“Of course!” I heard myself reply, embarrassed.
Probation = suspended sentence, parole.
What crime could Bob By the Pond’s son have committed?
Who could he have bumped off, and for what rotten reason?
What girl could he have raped? What drug could he have consumed, what quantity sold, to what kid
junkies? Could he have robbed Walgreens, gagging what number of innocent Korean cashiers who
came to the U.S. to make a decent living?
No, I was reassured, Bob had said he was a “cool kid”.
It seemed I was going delirious in my kitchen. I figured I would probably be well-advised to go run
Out of cowardice, I beat a retreat and relinquished my property, my garden and my possessions. I left it
all to Bob and his son-on-probation: I surrendered.
Three hours later, the father and the son had actually finished the pond.
The tree he had felled had been cut into logs that now formed several levels under the vinyl tarp. The
rocks and stones stolen in the garden traced the outline of the pond. The bushes uprooted here and
there had been cleverly replanted around a charming little stream connected to a small pool into which
water flowed from the main pond.
Bob and his son were laying in the grass, spread-eagle, their faces offered to the sun.