FIRST YOU HAVE
TO FIND HER
Ten thousand meddlesome things : Mike, at
the garage named 'Mike's', with his head once
more underneath a hood. He's always staring
down at metal; the small deli next door, seemingly
always going out of business, then back again, and
then out. Who would want to buy anything from
there? Mike says he only gets buttered rolls and
coffee, if he doesn't make his own.
Next to that, the old house with the ten cats at the
garage - they roll around and then just seem to wait.
Someone feeds them, and they stay, someone gives
them milk every other day. 'It's not me,' I've heard
Mike say, 'Whoever it is that lives there, but first
you've got to find her.' Storylines of a similar bent
recur : the sergeant from the local police comes by;
all he wants is to be sure Mike's got a current permit.
Then, just up the road, is Sal's; another garage, but
way larger than Mikes, and with a crew of five. An
antique fire truck sits outside, and Sal's also has five or
six charter-buses that he keeps. Local schools, field trips
and sports teams going places. He's got two drivers as
well - one old, black named 'Cheetah', and the other
some retired prison guard making pocket money. He says
he 'likes the zoo trips the best. I mean, I take the kids anyplace
they're going - museums and sport-sites and down the shore
too, but I like the zoo trips best. Seems everyone's happy.'
There's a lady there, she does the payroll and the accounting;
schedules trips, lines up buses and drivers, and all the rest.
Betsy. Nice lady too, but (yes) first you have to find her.
She drives a vintage square Buick - that's how I know if
she's there. I look where she parks (same spot always) and
if there's no Buick there, I know she's not either. Things get
easy, but never out of hand. Just, first you have to find her.
They call this Cavendish Road; sometimes people ask,
the ones who are lost or otherwise don't know where they
are. It was an old farm road, long ago, and then, like
everything, like the rest, little by little, it got built up -
once small building after another, and then another small
business front and a driveway and a garage, then a light,
and - finally - a big paved road and traffic too. Now, most of
the time, and especially during school time, there's a crossing
guard about : always helpful and good to see, but,
- yes - first you have to find her.