From The Sky...

Joe was laid out on the couch in his jean shorts and favorite Yankees tee-shirt watching CNN. When the story broke, he hobbled out to the porch to try and get my attention. I don't know how long he was waving his crutch before I saw him. I was near the sidewalk, and that's where I have to be very, very careful to watch for anyone walking nearby. Folks tend to sneak up on me, and I don't want to hack off someone's foot or run down a toddler.

I was turning the mower around when I saw caught sight of Joe. He signed urgently: Important. Hurry. Encyclopedia. Joe's still working on his ASL. Truthfully, I'm not much better. My going deaf was thrust on both of us so quickly. I walked away from the mower, and he pointed frantically. Shit. I turned around and cut the old mower off, and it let out a final, rebellious cloud of gray, murky smoke. I really wish Joe would break down and buy a new mower, the kind that turns off when you let go of the handle, but he really loves the Craftsman. It was his dad's, and he takes pride in keeping it running. I glanced across the street: The old bastard looked disappointed.

I dashed into the living room, and Joe pointed at the television. Breaking news. There was footage from a helicopter. A house was on fire, and there were bits of wreckage scattered nearby. The landscape looked awfully familiar, and in a few seconds I realized I was looking at the remains of my uncle's house. Joe tapped my shoulder, and pointed to my new TTY phone flashing on the end table.

It was Dad.

The message on the screen said: Uncle Gio left his yard.

Which meant, of course, Uncle Gio was dead.

Renata's phone...


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