Down Dakota Avenue, on the west side of Mahalia, was a house that looked like a Monopoly piece covered in white, peeling stucco wrapped in a baseboard of dried, red dust. The battered storm door centered two split-sliding windows with smeared and foggy panes. A faded circus sign stuck to one window hiding the broken out corner of the glass. From the outside it appeared as if the walls inside were covered in mold, filth; a house that by all reasoning could never be cleaned, inside or out. This discarded Lego block house hunkered down between two ancient maples in a squared squat of indifference. Driving slowly down Dakota a passer-by would not notice the house. It was a two-bedroom rental engulfed by a pleading humility hoping to be ignored. In the unkempt backyard with its patches of tall grass peppered atop the dusty ground, beneath the humidity fighting sway of the plush maples, throwing a baseball as high as he can, and catching it once out of hundreds tries, was Eugene Klumpkin.

Eugene’s chubby face, painted with freckles and red blotches, fell from a shock of red-orange hair so bright it looked as if he were going hunting. Even in winter he looked sweaty with fat, dimpled and stained elbows. Pale, flabby flesh inherited from his mother shimmied under his arm with each up toss. The ball would drift in a backdrop of clear summer sky blue, Eugene would grin hopefully, and the ball would thud to the ground, again. And again. And again. It was a routine of Eugene’s each summer day. His hours spent beneath the maples throwing the ball up and missing it on the way down. His glove, a blue plastic disgrace from Goodwill, barely fit over the salty ham of his sweaty hand. He lunged and twirled around trying to catch the descending ball to no avail. Sequestered in his backyard, Eugene attempted to learn baseball each sunny day, until the bell rang.

Perched above the tattered aluminum backdoor of the low-rent adobe, a rusted bell clanged as the string coming from between the door and the jam was pulled. The string ran into the house, dangled along the ceiling by thumb tacked clothes hangers and into the bloated hands of Eugene’s mother. She was fat in the sense that the ocean is wet. Her girth filled her electric scooter to a point of spilling over, leaving the impression of melting dough sliding off the black canvas seat. She smelled. Her aroma wafted in a five foot perimeter of funk that hinted at corn chips and freshly poured asphalt. It took your breath away. When she grew weary of sitting or navigating the small house on her wheezing electric scooter, she rang the bell for Eugene to come back in the house. It was meal time. She had no breakfast, lunch, and dinner since time meant nothing to her eating. It was simply, a meal time. She looked up at one of the thousands of circus play-bills adorning the walls. Tattered and peeling the reminded her of her glorious past as “Fiona the Fattest Lady on Earth”. Her caricature, now yellow and discarded, could still be seen smiling in the middle of her fleshy, clownish face.

Eugene walked in wishing the water was turned on.

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