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October 2016, vol 12 no 3

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Fred Lowe

Waverly and the C-Notes

Waverly was sure that the man, Hansen, who lived – squatted – in the house at the end of the road, was stealing tools from him. Because the road ran between Waverly’s house and his garage, there was no way to keep Hansen off the premises. It was a town road and Hansen had the right to pass over it.

Hansen’s house was a field back from Waverly’s. Back then it was no more than a field hut with two rooms and a porch made of scavenged lumber tacked on – rickety, sagging, every angle askew.

Waverly had caught Hansen in the garage more than once and each time Hansen threatened the old man. Such threats were to be taken seriously. It was known by the nighttime screams and the morning-after bruises that Hansen beat his wife and his son. Those two looked alike with their broad, flat faces and perpetually startled eyes. Hansen also had periodic brushes with the sheriff and was generally known to be a drunk, a thief, and a cheat.

Waverly was beside himself that such a “devil” had moved into the village. Up to that point, none of us had ever locked our doors, day or night. Sometime about then, my wife and I had the porch light fixed. We began to lock up at night. One August morning I saw Waverly standing in the lane, purple-faced, waving his arms. There had been yet another altercation in the garage. Waverly was an excitable man and sometimes comically so, tho’ nobody laughed. Besides, everybody was on his side in this matter.

He was in his mid-80s. There was the danger that one of his transports would carry him off.

When the “aaaaahh boys,” the goddammits and sonofabitches finally eased off, Waverly lectured me about the moral degeneration that had overtaken Maine and ruined the whole country since the days of his childhood. Once upon a time, he said, his grandfather had laid $100 bills, weighted down by stones, along the whole length of the lane from the paved road to his house. This was to prove a point: anybody could easily have taken them, but nobody would or did.

The putative bills sat out there for a day and a night. I almost believed him on account of the sheer beauty of the image. I saw that whole quarter mile of dirt lane flickering with C-notes.

crisp notes
the flash of birch leaves
in the wind