Little House on the Prairie
By Jeff Baker
“There it is!” Pete said. “Stop the car!”
There weren’t any other buildings on that side of Main Street so they weren’t likely to miss it. Two story, brick with tall windows and ornate carving toward the top. Looking like a visitor from the 1890s plopped down on this near-empty street, even more like an ancient tower overlooking an ancient battlefield.
“I worked there,” Pete said. “That was my first job when I was a kid!”
At the Auto Parts place?” Diego asked, looking at the sign painted on the wall of the ground floor.
“Naaaah,” Pete said. “That wasn’t there then. I worked out of the old grocery store on the first floor. Sweeping floors, stocking shelves, running errands on my bike…”
“For Mr. Gower?” Diego said with a grin.
“Naaah,” Pete said with a laugh. “For Old Man Lebsack. You know he was probably my age when I worked there back in ’75, ’76, when I was about 15.”
“When both of us were about 15,” Diego said. He looked around. Typical near-dead small town baking in the Kansas September heat. Grocery store down the street, convenience store/gas station just off the highway at the edge of town, and a cluster of largely boarded-up buildings on the main drag. Diego sighed again. A lot different then back in New York City.
“Hey,” Pete said pointing behind the building. “You can see my cousin’s house from here.”
Diego stared at the houses amid the rows of trees, looking so much like suburbia he expected to see T.V. opening credits.
“You sure your cousin’s going to like me?” Diego asked. He had started getting worried on the plane and continued worrying in the car they’d rented.
“I’m sure,” Pete said. “You talked to her on the phone, remember? She and her husband want to meet my husband. Her kids get to meet Uncle Diego. Besides, they’re my only living relatives.” He kissed Diego. “Other than you!”
Diego kissed him back. They spent a moment smiling and looking into each other’s eyes.
“We’d better head over there,” Pete said.
“Yom Kippur in Trent, Kansas,” Diego said grinning. “You know what my Granddad said when I told him where we were going? He said he didn’t know there were any Jews in Kansas.” They both laughed.
“Tell you what,” Pete said. “We’ll spend Hanukkah with your family. Deal?”
“Deal,” Diego said.
“You know, wherever we are is family,” Pete said. They kissed again, and then they started the car.