Sequence: How Is a Windmill Like a Waypost (part one)
How is a Windmill Like a Waypost
They call me ‘appy Eliza
And h’im con’werted Jane
We’ve both been ‘ot ‘uns h’in our time
But we’ll never go wrong agine
Music Hall Ditty
Lyrics to “Happy Eliza” (less suggestive version) attributed to Will Oliver
Bruner walked alongside his father. His father wore overalls under a lapelled jacket, and carried a tin lunch box. They were having difficulty matching their pace. Bruner, striding, distracted by his habitual inner monologue, would by now―as though he could pound his troubles into the bricks―have got to the end of the second block. His father, who watched the sidewalk, but whose inward eye saw his job list, his lunch, and his bus ride home, would have fallen far behind. Instead, the elder Martin looked up at his son, caught himself lagging, and hurried forward. Bruner noticed his father, and slowed.
“You’ll be seeing Mr. Gersome, at his office?”
“I will,” Bruner said, “if I have time. I might not have time, Dad.”
He and his father had not managed yet to look each other in the eye. Bruner could feel, veiled in his father’s question, the disappointment and resignation. Both judgments were unanswerable. They lived in a small house, and from his basement dark room, Bruner was able to hear his parents’ words in the kitchen upstairs. His father might, for that matter, know it—that by this medium, his thoughts could reach his son’s ears.
“What does it mean, he says he’s an investigator? Why would he not work for someone else, who has a reputation? If Martin could do well at a job, he would get someplace.”
His father had once taught school, and nearing sixty now, worked at Bevin’s Stove and Furnace, as a repairman. With rigid perseverance, he still supported his household. Bruner was thirty-four, an embarrassment. He had lived away from home for a number of years, before his luck and his confidence had broken.
For three days Bruner had been away with no word.
His mother had not let him through the door in peace, but circled, keen-eyed. She gave her news that Gersome had been calling, “Every day, Martin.” He had called, altogether, four times, twice yesterday. “I don’t know who this man is.”
It might be true. The Bruners lived on a suburban street, well outside Gersome’s ward, and Mrs. Bruner had never voted.
How Is a Windmill Like a Waypost
(2016, Stephanie Foster)