i kept james fed. he was long and lanky and weathered chocolate, white hair and a laugh. i’d bring him peaches that i canned to make sure he was inhaling more than just bacon and eggs and cigarettes. i’d walk him across the street to my house, hold his hand and get him up the steps, so he could sit on my deck and watch the world go by. he lived in a back corner apartment overlooking nothing, but the man had history. chicago and portland and a life well lived. his brother was his roommate til passing a few years ago, but he kept kickin’. james seemed to be a foot taller than me and about a quarter my weight, all sharp corners and smiles. we cleaned his house this spring, took about five thousand plastic bags to the recycler and dusted and vacuumed and i saw his 70’s afro and his bible and brought him more peaches and killed the ants coming in through the window. this summer i took him as my date to our neighbor’s 1 year old’s birthday party and they welcomed him like family, and i set him down amongst the boys to talk basketball and get his belly full. and at solstice i gave him macaroni and cheese and collard greens and everything else i could fill him up with and he sat back with his cigarette and laughed and told stories.
james was dear to me and today they found him dead in his kitchen.