In the fall Smith enjoyed the ritual of leaf raking from his second floor window. By afternoon’s end each front yard on his block would be cleared, save for his.
The man who lived across from him drove a pickup truck that sounded like a tank, thanks to a hole in the muffler. One Saturday afternoon when he heard the truck engine, Smith went the window to witness the truck rumbling down the street with the leaves spiraling out of the bed and onto his neighbors’ newly raked lawns. He was amused by this small act of disregard for fastidious leaf raking.
The next day a young boy knocked on his door to ask if he could rake the front yard for free. The boy looked familiar.
The boy grinned, “My dad paid me.”
“Who’s your dad?”
He pointed to the house across the street.
A few hours later, with his lawn newly raked, Smith rested on his bed, wondering what his life had become now that his wife was dead. No friends. No place to go, only hours spent observing others from a window. A tear was sliding down his cheek when the truck roared. He went to the window. His neighbor was parked in front of his house. The boy waved. Smith opened the window and waved back. He watched the truck pull away with an empty bed.
He went to the window overlooking his leaf-covered backyard while fumbling for a few dollars in his pocket. He took a deep breath before going downstairs to wait.