I found an old shoebox last week.
Filled with checks from years gone by.
Bank of America, Riviera Branch
Rectangular pieces of paper from a lifetime ago.
Our boys were young.
Hell, WE were young.
$795 every month made payable to Mr. Art W.
Our friendly landlord – the silver fox.
He never fussed about the stickers,
That formed a trail upon the wall in the boy’s room.
Or the Legos that were stuck tightly
In the track of the closet door.
I close my eyes and can hear the alarm clock.
7:00 on a Saturday morning.
Early basketball game at Lomita Park.
I make coffee and clear away the cans.
The neat row of empty Budweiser cans that line the kitchen counter.
I am embarrassed, for there are many.
A multitude of checks from the shoebox bear witness.
Narbonne Market they reveal, written in my own familiar cursive script.
The coffee is ready and the boys get dressed for their games.
I’m a proud mama during hoops season.
The coaches have nicknamed our son “Baby Shaq”.
The tiny point guard, with the dandy no-lookie pass.
The game is over, the buzzer sounds and chaos commences.
Children scamper onto the gym floor and toss balls indiscriminately.
We duck outside quickly, and Jimmie lights a smoke.
Our sons break loose and run off with their friends like pack animals.
“We’re leaving” I yell. “I’ll come back for you in an hour” I say, but I am not heard.
Three minutes later Jimmie pulls into the Narbonne Market parking lot.
“I sure hope you have money” he says. “I don’t get paid until next week”.
“It’s cool,” I smile.
“They take checks.”