JEFF ROBERTS
A Question of Perspective


"Dammit, Ethan," Steve Jordan barked as he looked down at the half-full, liter sized paper cup full of light-brown cola sitting in a cup holder behind the gear shift in his clean, silvery, Lexus. As he fumbled with, then adjusted, the visor to block the morning sun's rays that were pouring in his side window, he squinted over the fence behind his house and focused on his neighbor who was trimming the hedge that separated their houses. Pulling his sun glasses out of the tray in the dash board, he slid them up his nose with one finger as he gazed in the rear-view mirror, cocking his head he smiled, then he slide his fingers neatly through his trimmed hair. Turning to his girlfriend seated beside him, he hunched just a bit and gestured with his right hand, "I just wish he'd clean up after himself. You know I give him everything thing he asks, I just wish he had some respect for all my hard work."

"Are you mad because he left a cup of watery Coke in your car instead of a twelve pack of empty beer bottles like you did when you were his age or because he's a 17 year old kid who acts like a 17 year old kid?" replied Tracy Merrick, his girlfriend of seven years with an ironic smile on her thick, ruby colored lips.

As Steve shifted the car into reverse, he twisted back to gaze down the drive way and said, "No, it's not that. I just wish he'd think and clean up after himself at least that shows some self-respect."

Tracy laughed lightly showing a row of small, perfect white teeth, her deep blue eyes lighting up over a small, pointed nose, she said, "Well, if the most serious problem you have as a father is a son who's a little absent minded after bagging grocery all night the afternoon after he was inducted into the National Honors Society, I think you should count your blessings."

"Dammit, Ethan," Steve Jordan barked as he looked down at the half-full, liter sized paper cup full of light-brown cola sitting in a cup holder behind the gear shift in his clean, silvery, Lexus. As he fumbled with, then adjusted, the visor to block the morning sun's rays that were pouring in his side window, he squinted over the fence behind his house and focused on his neighbor who was trimming the hedge that separated their houses. Pulling his sun glasses out of the tray in the dash board, he slid them up his nose with one finger as he gazed in the rear-view mirror, cocking his head he smiled, then he slide his fingers neatly through his trimmed hair. Turning to his girlfriend seated beside him, he hunched just a bit and gestured with his right hand, "I just wish he'd clean up after himself. You know I give him everything thing he asks, I just wish he had some respect for all my hard work."

"Are you mad because he left a cup of watery Coke in your car instead of a twelve pack of empty beer bottles like you did when you were his age or because he's a 17 year old kid who acts like a 17 year old kid?" replied Tracy Merrick, his girlfriend of seven years with an ironic smile on her thick, ruby colored lips.

As Steve shifted the car into reverse, he twisted back to gaze down the drive way and said, "No, it's not that. I just wish he'd think and clean up after himself at least that shows some self-respect."

Tracy laughed lightly showing a row of small, perfect white teeth, her deep blue eyes lighting up over a small, pointed nose, she said, "Well, if the most serious problem you have as a father is a son who's a little absent minded after bagging grocery all night the afternoon after he was inducted into the National Honors Society, I think you should count your blessings."

As the car coasted down the drive way, Steve shook his head, "You're probably right." Suddenly, at the bottom of the driveway, he slammed on the brakes as a young woman appeared in his rear view mirror at the foot of his driveway. Gingerly, she was feeling her way north up the old, beaten sidewalk; her black, high-heel, ankle boots picking their way over the pot holes worn in the pavement. As Steve gazed into the rear-view mirror, he saw staring back at him in a lightning fast moment of eye contact, a pair of pale, grey eyes surrounded in a thick, smeared coat of black mascara looking back at him with a flash of fear crossing them. This frail, young woman had a pile of jet black hair swirling in a disheveled pile tied up on her on top of her head and she looked like the morning sun was causing he some discomfort. She was wearing a tight, black top which had a plunging neckline down the front which exposed a triangle of white, bony flesh. This shirt laid over a short, leather miniskirt which cut across her upper thigh, all of this tied by a chain around her waist.

Steve impatiently tapped his fingers on the back of Tracy's bucket seat as the woman slowly picked her way up the sidewalk like a frail, little bird who'd just fallen out of the nest. When she was clear, he stepped on the accelerator and backed out into the street. Shifting into drive, there was a lung, and then they crept up Oak St.

"She doesn't live around her, what the hell is she doing in this neighborhood?" he said, as the car slowly idled up the street beside the young woman, as he leaned across Tracy and stared.

"Well, it looks to me like she's walking, and having a bit of difficulty at that" Tracy said as she turned to Steve, stretching out her arm she adjusted her diamond tennis bracelet, then curling her fingers back she gazed down at her red, perfectly manicured nails.

Steve almost stopped the car, edging slowly forward, Steve declared, "Look at those holes knees of her panty hose, what do you think she was doing all night?"

Tracy flashed a glance at the young woman and said, "Well, first off they're stockings and she probably paid twice the price for a pair with holes in it like that from the Thrift Store than she would have paid for them new. It's the style now"

Pulling back, sitting up in his seat and looking forward, Steve nodded his head and said, "I'll bet she spent the night with Doc Willes, have you seen the girls that have come and gone from his house since he got divorced? I even hear he took up with his receptionist."

Laughing, Tracy shook her head and replied, "Yes, she probably did spend the night there, with his daughter."

As the car accelerated away up the street, Steve glared across the front seat into the passenger side mirror, staring intently he said, "Well, she doesn't belong around here. This neighborhood is for good, moral people."

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JEFF ROBERTS

Jeff Roberts is a 46 year-old father to two, lover of one and is blessed with the friendship of many. He graduated with a degree from the Bachelor of Liberal Studies Program at Iowa the May. This piece is from his book, Little Stories, which is a collection of his undergraduate writing here at Iowa now available through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and the online bookstore of Outskirts Press.

Outskirts Press site

This page was first displayed
on October 10, 2008

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