Bonnie Beth never got up early enough to scramble eggs, fry a pancake, or pour Wheaties, so Kindred lifted a heaping teaspoon of instant coffee from the jar into the maw beneath his mustache and washed it down with a Red Bull. That was breakfast. He fixed himself a peanut butter and mayo sandwich on air bread, slipped it into a Baggie, and found machine-made carrots and a shriveled quarter of a cucumber in the fridge. These he put into his lunch pail, along with a personal-sized packet of Fritos and a bottle of frozen water, which, by noon, would be more than half melted. That was lunch. He clomped to the door in his work boots, called goodbye to Bonnie Beth, knowing it would wake and irritate her, and let the screen door slam behind him.

He was late as usual for his roofing job, but in Salt Lake City it was a cool spring morning, the sun streaming in sideways, maybe fifty degrees. At the bottom of the porch steps, he knelt at the five-gallon drum of Prep Coat Plus and said a remembrance for his mother, who was not dead yet but was possessed of demons. She lived in Wichita, Kansas, the flattest city in the country, maybe in the world, so it was no wonder his mother saw mountain trolls, yetis, and bombs going off. Yesterday Kindred had put fake flowers by the drum, but that morning a mangled finch was there, too, an offering no doubt left by a cat.

It was another twenty feet down the stairs to the sidewalk, where he said hello to Charm Bloomberg, an eighty-year-old Jew in the Salt Lake Garden of Absurdities, walking her debarked Pomeranian. She glanced at him with an odd fury and a suspicious beady eye.

“Nice A.M.,” Kindred said. “Could snow, though.”

“Fuck you, Mike,” Mrs. Bloomberg said. “Get a life.”

“I’m working on it,” Kindred said.

“Work harder.”

Continued in Confrontation 121, Spring 2017.