Lights in the Dust By Mark O’Flahavan Dog is barkin’ this time at somethin’, Coffy gets out of bed wonderin’

what? His underwear is grey and loose his back is gettin’ bigger his muscles are no longer skinny. Hmmmph he says lookin’ out the window yawnin’ an itchin’ at his privates. He looks funny and I laugh. He looks at me tells me to get dressed. “Aubrey’s here.” he says flat like. The air seems hot. He puts on his cool jacket and heads for the rear window, grabbing at escape. I hear Aubrey mumblin’, no one says a real hello to him. I want too, I want it to echo. I hear dad mumblin’ somethin’ he’s on the roof attachin’ the Holiday lights. Coffy notices me gettin’ excited and snaps his finger for me to hurry and follow him. I do. We slide down the rainspout my good red hat from Sears falls in the rain catcher. Shhh-it, I says, sounds weird to say it out loud. Mom bangs on the window making a show out of us escapin’. She’s mad but understands, that part is hidden, but the

She’s in smart classes. “Aubrey” and looks away. Not a big laugh. She has brown hair curly around her face she has a big nose but it seems right on her for some reason. off in the distance. She looks like those girls in the magazines. is the courtyard. blind man can see it. She’s in junior high like Coffy. He makes Lizzie laugh – she’s laughing already watching us. tight jeans and such – she’s pretty for around here . he keeps walkin’. I see Aubrey our eyes lock for a second his hair is messed up. I try to walk like him but it hurts. Nothin’ from him. his face fat and tired lookin’. just a laugh covering her mouth with one of her mittens. the oak tree is dyin’ and some people are sad.that’s what swagger does. There. throwin’ his shoulders around sayin’ I own the place .I like her. I grab at his jacket and he swats at me. that’s up front. others are glad…I like the shade it gives in the summer. My hats wet I put it on anyway and run. I aint fast by no count.mad part. but he’s smart in other ways. for Coffy. so I quit. There’s Lizzie. he looks away and then I do too. Coffy aint. I look away too. Coffy says. the fountain don’t work anymore. worried like. not to . Coffy comes up and she looks at him.

I don’t wipe it off I don’t know why. She pulls away and looks at me. her breath smells minty. She does. Lizzie runs towards me. I feel her wet kiss on my cheek. In the reflection of the big window I see them close to each other not sayin’ anythin’. My dad laughs when he saw the sign yesterday. She opens her mouth and Coffy meets her open mouth with his. She kisses me and says to nobody. out loud. The furniture all atop of one another looks like a city off in the distance all jumbled up. I look for somethin’ to do and Salmon’s is closed – Gone Fishing the sign says.sure why but it’s what Coffy does so I follow. My dad don’t laugh. “Revolt!” lookin’ at both of us and puts her gum back in her mouth. His hand pulls at her sweater. All the chairs and tables are pushed up in the corner like they was afraid of somethin’. to the air. flat out. bump shoulders then breakin’ from Coffy’s grab. She doesn’t have any extra. I do when Dog licks . There is a little space that people stand to read the menu and I guess just stand like we are doin’. I run to Salmon’s and lookin at my awkward reflection in the big window. Coffy looks around and tells Lizzie to kiss him. I ask for some. He doesn’t.

Coffy wants another and she runs yellin’. The dust kicks up a bit and dark clouds cover the sun. and cleans my hat and puts it on my head sideways like a gangsta. screamin’ like but in a fun way. He holds me. We can see dad is climbing down from the ladder. I match his pace. then Aubrey sees us. the hammer in his hand hits his thigh and he walks into the house. She is goin’ away be back later she says. screen door slams. I fall on the concrete on account my right leg don’t work so good anymore and my red hat falls in the mud. a storm comin’. Aubrey stands stiff as Dad says something about the coke I guess. we walk back to the house smil’n a little. Coffy slows down. Dad holdin’ the door for Aubrey and Dad walk back in the house. I cry. Coffy walks over to Aubrey’s piss yellow truck . I can hear Dog barking inside the house. Aubrey finishes off a can of cola and throws it in the back of his truck hard like. She waves at me and sticks her tongue out at Coffy. he smells like the ground. Dog squeals in pain. Coffy pushes me a bit too hard. Aubrey is lookin’ up at dad holdin’ the ladder. Dad looks at us for a second. Com’on he says to me all the swagger out of him. The air is hot I says.

Coffy looks back towards the square. the bulbs hitting each other on account of the wind. I sit on the stoop rubbing my leg on account of my fall back there. she adds. He lights a cig-ar-rette. Aubrey?” Coffy sounds tired. He looks at Coffy and says not nice like to keep the boots off his truck. he looks long and hard. I hate it when he does that starin’ and same way when he plays his guitar – no way talking to him then either. Coffy kicks one of the tires on it hard. I can see dust devils playing about the square mixing up trash and leaves. “Don’t call him that… What you doing here. from the storm. “Ate Sandy’s Holiday Loaf last night… by . “that would be nice” in sort of a wisecrackin’ tone. “Hey Chipmunk” givin’ me the broom says he’ll help but I know he won’t. black plastic bags from the liquor store float about. Aubrey brings a broom and says. Coffy kicks the tire again harder than the last time. The lights dad put up click. I hear mother yell wishin’ someone would sweep off the porch. just starin’.Coffy calls it.

“We got to do the Holiday poster ‘n Genny’s grave to clean.” “She pissed?” Coffy asks not seemin’ to want an answer. Aubrey can sweep the dust off the porch – if he’s stayin’.accident.” I can tell why Coffy is mad. it happened sometime ago. Genny pushes me out of the way. Hmmmph says Aubrey. Coffy looks away and says like he’s older than Aubrey. I sure did and Genny couldn’t breathe. leave it. sixteen. It was a dust storm and Genny and I are walking back from Gardner’s Ice cream Em-poor-iem with a pint of Cashew ice cream. Let’s go Jacob. in court. let’s out a stream of smoke like a locomotive. drunk drivin’ runnin’-over our sister Genny and me. no one to help her. Aubrey even did time for it . we see the lights… the dust thicker than a fog. I was seven and Genny was eleven. the ice cream never gets hurt. Aubrey. Get busy Jacob. Genny and Coffy are twins. said. She dies at the hospital. Aubrey says without even looking at me to see if I was sweepin’. the Sheriff.

heck Aubrey being our oldest brother and all. I thought he would just gets dad’s strap. they say. sometimes I don’t.ick. and the lights click. . he was arrested just like on TV. no foolin’. that Juvicenter is a tough place. Coffy hates it when I say stuff like that…sometimes I mean it. I can see Lizzie and her family in their grey shiny Buuu. Coffy helps me up and we go inside. They drive by fast. the dust kicking up behind it like it was a storm Halls County Juvi-center. we all three stop and watch. I can hear Aubrey sweepin’ up outside. sometimes when the air is hot I tell Coffy Genny was the one lucky. They use the fancy car to drive into the city only to go to their special church on Saturdays but it ain’t a Saturday. Lizzie doesn’t wave. I was lucky. her face is turned away. nope. kinda angry like. the dust plume hits us.