I’m a guy who likes my privacy—maybe I said that before—but people all over this town recognize me.  I’m a bit of a landmark here, if I do say so myself.  Even the kids.  I can hear ’em screamin’, “Ol’ Henry!  Ol’ Henry!” when they see me comin’.  Screamin’ and squealin’ like I was a star out of a monster movie showing at the Paramount Theatre or even the Fox.

There’s a group of ’em—two girls, two boys, always together—climb up an old mulberry tree out by the alley in the north end of town.  Not way up north where the rich folks live.  No, this is before you get to those curvy streets with the alphabet names.  About the three hundred block of Jackson or Sergeant.  Up near the DeTar Clinic.  Just a couple of blocks from the Safeway.

The minute those kids see my cart turn into the alley, the girls go to squealin’—even before they even see me.  Then up they go into that tree, all four of ’em.  They sit there as quiet as kids can sit, which ain’t very quiet, and they eat those mulberries—bugs and all.  Bet they eat a quart of bugs every summer!  It’s mostly in the summer when I see those kids.  I just hold my head up and keep on walkin’—walkin’ and pretendin’ I  don’t even know they’re up there. And they sit up there gigglin’ and munchin’ those berries.  Bugs and berries—ha!

I remember one day last summer, they were up in that tree.  I remember that day real well ’cause I turned into that alley on purpose.  You see, I found a bunch of bottles of beer behind Jimmy’s.  I don’t know who left them there ’cause Jimmy don’t sell no beer in his place.  It was a hot day.  Anyway I drank about three bottles before I put the rest in my cart.  So when I got to that alley, I was wantin’ to pee real bad.

There’s a spot down there with a lot of trees—well mostly bushes—but they’re tall enough for a guy to take a quick leak.  In my line of work, you learn the value of bein’ quick.  Comes in handy lots of times.  I just sort of rummage through the trash.  Then I  slip off for a bit—you know, take care of “business.”  Sometimes it’s one kind of business, sometimes it’s another.  I’m quick about it either way.

Well, usually those kids stayed in that tree until I was long gone.  But wouldn’t you know it, this was the day they came down.  All four of ’em right there behind me.  So I had to go on pushin’ my cart two, three more blocks.  I was about to bust!

(The two girls and two boys are me, my sister Pam, my brother Michael, and our across-the-street-neigbhor Mike, also known as “our other brother.”)