The mood in the trailer instantly lightened, like a cloud stepping aside from the power of the sun’s warmth. Charlie and Maggie worked together to prepare their dinner from a box of pasta and vegetables excavated from a mound of frost in the freezer. As she poured water into an aluminum pan, Maggie asked which was his favorite story from Mike.
Charlie replied that he didn’t know. “Never thought in terms of favorites or anything like that. Heck, I’d be hard pressed to say which ones I liked, or didn’t like. Mike, he’d jus’ tell me his stories, an’ I’d listen to ’em.”
Maggie placed the pan, three-quarters filled with water, on the stovetop. “He didn’t write ’em down? His stories?”
“Said he did.” Charlie stared up at the ceiling a moment. “Yeah, there wuz that red binder he had. Tried to show it to me one day, at school. But Condor showed up, tried to take it from ‘im, so he didn’ brung it to school no more after that.” He stared up at the ceiling again. “Think I saw it in his room a few times af’er that. But he didn’ like anyone comin’ in his room much. When I wuz up there, he would always be rushin’ us out, tellin’ me we hadta go.”
He looked at Maggie, standing at the stove with her back turned to him, and he saw her upper body heaving, up and down. She was suppressing a sound, but Charlie couldn’t tell whether she was on the verge of laughter or tears. He guessed the former. “You all right?”
She swung around, an embarrassed smile on her face, which was nearly as red as her hair. “I got a story, too. Not by Mike, but about him. About the time I was up in his room.”