The Kind There Are in Florida

Elizabeth Mikesch

She Sees an Old Boy

Inside that skuzz, a heavy-hipped figure, she sees an old boy.

Vavoom, says the old boy.

He watches her vacuum the crumbs that she slid off the table. The stubble cannot catch the crackers she slathered in stink, the cheese the market sells cheaply the day after cheeses go bad.

The old boys love crackers. They would not eat off of napkins.

Ch ehv ay raeey?

She hates how we sound it out, that we have to. She gets mad when we try it and waste it.

It is each afternoon that she slides the dress over her heavy hips, scoots open windows, lies down on the couch.

Do my back up, she tells us.

We do not own a scale.


Her face stays with rash from the stubble. The couch misses the cover, the burlap. Hear the phone ticklish? It bucks against the wallpaper. It buzzes.

You will hear it ringing, hear and hear next-door dogs, the thunder barking. They hate the sound like us. This is how we are like the next-door dogs.

Unzip its old smell.

The dress falls off and we press our fingers to our eyelids not wanting to see, to our nostrils not wanting to suck up the smell.

Where he is, we do not know.  Gone or else.

By the time she gets to the rotary, she misses it.  By the time, the power zaps out, the phone settles, sleepy there itself.

Her feet wet from spat rain, cold and shrunk.

The chain doors swing open — a storm.

Calendars tell us, but we still do not know. We cannot read. We cannot see it.

The power.

For a while, she squints at the rows, the numbers, how the moon is filled in whole roll or crescent. Then, she turns from marzo to abril, scowls, drops the chain down inside her mouth. The taste makes her lose her lunch, tastes like spoons shine and she is sick, did not want to hold down the chévere and salt crackers.

I cannot bear another, she says.

We got nothing to say. Wordless for why it is dark outside early as now, we are whistling at how snug the dress fits from the couch with no cushions. Whistle how fireworks fall down in julio, how she is jello, falls out at the top.

The clocks read back black. They say nothing, the wall one ticked on clicks.

Blame the battery.

She gets down on her back in front of us and she uses her hands under, beneath the dress.

The nails scratch that rash.

When They Do

When they do so, they sit, do so cross-legged how we play pit-a-pat. They sit across, head on, indian-styled. Look straight in his eyes, over her shoulder.

She sees him just like this when they do so. When they do so, they are looking right at it.

They sometimes yell and scream:


Sometimes, they do so louder than like we wish. They will be doing it and then they will stop all the sudden. The calendar marks when they did so.  We do not mean for you to listen for it. We cannot help but hear. We remember when. There is marker writ. Go see for yourself. That dress got rips. The zipper came loose when she wiggled out a foal, legs in t-straps.

It should get sewn shut.

If you fixed--

It wouldn’t fit.

The dress is a size small on those heavy hips.


He vamoosed. We do not know where he went.

She gives a helluva. Gets awful deep in there.

Got knots?

Yes, yes.




He leaves her again. We do not know where. He goes though.

That day he went, the sky went. On this kind of day, the rest until dark is a loss. All the tired eyes under store lights when cars stop cannot wait. They wait for: beds, dads, a wife, or a dog to lay down on.

She uses her hands under there on the couch with no cushions. She is looking for the quarters that had fell out.

We Ask Her Where He Went

Where has he been?

It is the kind of looking after, the kind we are doing where we have to watch her—in case. As long as we can, we are watching for when she changes out of that dress and never puts it back on, never yanks it hard over those hips again.

She slides off clothes, slides the screen closed shut.

Have you even heard a word?

While we pedal our bikes, we will hear a few words about how someone saw his car get hit they thought, how he was here just for the night.

Or got gas.

Or called from the Dakotas.

The Kind There Are in Florida

They met, she and the old boy, and she did not say a word to us about it.

We did not hear a thing from her. They met when she was seeing another one. Then, she saw this old boy. She changed her mind altogether right away. You could tell by the look on her face.

She gave us a look.

Both that she saw were from Florida.

We did not want to have to call him our dad. We did not have a say.

She saw, when she came to the place of both boys, both had alligator heads set on the coffee table.

Is that something that happens in Florida?

We think so too, cause of how she hovers all over our lunches, and how she swallows them whole to check that the food is not poison.