Together we raised part of the stockade fence. My brother Milt had tried to climb it, but he slipped and pushed a whole section down. He wanted to perch on top and have his picture taken, so I brought the Brownie camera. I didn’t know who owned the property, but I insisted we pull the section back into place.
“Hey!” a voice called from one of the apartments above.
“Don’t push,” Milt said to me.
We maneuvered awkwardly. The fence surrounded a vacant lot. Not much of interest here. A bunch of pigeons. A place to sneak a cigarette.
I pulled the stupid fence, trying to bend a rusty nail into place.
“Hey, youse!” Again.
“What?” Milt hollered.
“I just put out fresh bird seed.”
I looked down, saw the scattered seeds. Some people feed pigeons. Our mother does. Sort of a hobby.
I didn’t have many hobbies. I liked stickball. Messing with the camera, when I could afford film. Milt had this idea of being a photographer’s model. He always tried to be the center of attention. Spent all his money on these argyle socks that cost more than a month of odd jobs.
“Sorry about the seeds,” shouted Milt. “The fence collapsed.”
He’s pushing now, almost getting it back into position, although there isn’t much support.
One time, Milt bought a sword at a junk shop. The guy at the shop said it was a real Japanese sword, pulling it out of the showcase. He seemed sincere, an old guy our father knew.
“Relax. I’m trying to set it right. So you can get my picture.”
He’d combed his hair like James Dean. Got the argyles on.
“We’re upsetting that lady,” I said.
“She’s upsetting me. Pulling that stunt with the bird seed. I could have really gotten hurt!”
“What do you mean?”
“I skidded in it. That’s why the fence crashed over,” Milt explained.
I don’t buy it. I’m wearing cheap sneakers, and the bird seed, dumped in the dirt, is hardly slippery.
I remembered how Milt said the tip broke off his sword, that the guy pushed him into buying it. I saw him prying at a crack in the bricks in the alley. The tip broke with a ping!
“Come on,” Milt ordered, climbing the fence again. “I know an agent. We might do an ad in Photoplay.”
I think he’s pulling my leg. I start to push the shutter button.
The fence tilts. The pigeons gather in the dirt, cooing.
In my view finder.
Steve Saulsbury writes from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In addition to writing, he is a fitness enthusiast, and enjoys exploring the mid-Atlantic region. His flash piece, “Driftwood Days,” will be featured in an upcoming anthology by Cat and Mouse Press. The journey continues, fueled less by coffee, and more by trust.