Eugene saw the crumpled paper from three doors up. The paper was folded into a rectangle no more than 3 by 6, but for Eugene it seemed as large as a billboard. As loud as a megaphone it cried, “The fat lady and her dumb kid are being evicted!” He heard the laughter of Chipper Hunt. Eugene felt the trees grow taller along the road, the other houses seemed to gain height. The road, expanding in his panicked mind, increased its radiant heat, baking the insecurities into his marrow. More laughter. He knew Skinner was at the field but still. The other neighbors had surely seen the landlord knocking. They had saw his mother’s refusal, or inability, to answer the door. Eugene imagined, the landlord securing the paper, in a huff, to the doorknob with a rubber band. Momma had told him they were sweepstakes prize announcements. Eugene could hear the echoes of smallness in the lonely breeze.

He went around back to avoid the paper’s guilty stare. He felt poverty was a sign from society, from God, from somewhere and something that they were unwanted. Money brought love for the lack of money brought only hate, fear, and isolation. Without much thought he noticed the bell was not ringing. It always is ringing when I get home. Whatever.

Eugene walked into the kitchen, heard the buzz hum buzz of the third-hand fridge, and waited for his mother’s heavy breath to welcome him home.
“Welcome home Son!” she’d call. “It’s meal time already.” She’d say in a tone that hinted her confusion about why she was again, hungry. But not hungry. He waited for the sound of her voice. That exasperated, mournful sound of false happiness and managed pride.
He heard the buzz hum buzz. A fly’s wings zoomed around the kitchen sink. Nothing.
When Eugene Klumpkin, the Pumpkin Boy, finished the slow journey to his mother’s bedroom door he saw her in the wheelchair. It was plugged into the outlet to charge. Her large, balding down the middle head was resting on one of her chins. Eugene waited to hear her snore. He was certain all adults snored when they slept. Mother always had, at least.
“Momma.” he said.
He waited for the snort of sudden wakefulness.
“Momma.” he said.
The fly’s sound was gone. The fridge stopped its buzz hum buzz.
“Momma.” he said.
Her hand released half a sandwich.
“Momma.” he said.

He sat down in the door way, unwilling to enter the room, and unable to leave her sight. If she wakes up, she’ll see me here. She’ll see me crying and tell me to come over. Hug me. Tell me everything is alright. Tell me she was in deep sleep. The sandwich was bad anyway. The notice on the door is sweepstakes prize, like last time. She’ll see me. I’ll be right here. Tears overcame his strength for the second time today. I’ll be right here Momma. When you wake up. It’ll be mealtime again. He stood quickly and reached for the bell’s string over head. He pulled it gently. Through the stucco walls and his tears, Eugene Klumpkin couldn’t hear the bell ringing.

Skinner stood in his front yard. His pick up truck still warm from the ride. He listened to the bell. It clanged and clanged loudly. A violent, jerking sound that sang of sorrow, not hunger.
He looked towards the sky and smiled.
“Ok Harriet. Ok. For you and Reggie’s sake.”
Turning to look at the stucco block house across the street, Skinner dialed his cell phone.
“This is Mr. Skinner on Dakota Avenue. Yes, how are you too? The Fat…the lady across the street is dead or hurt. No I don’t know what’s wrong. No I’m not there. But if you could hear this bell ringing. Yes, a bell. Everytime. Tell you what just send a damn ambulance and let me worry about the damn bell.”
He hung up.

As he approached the front door the bell was still ringing. Eugene was pulling and pulling. His momma still didn’t move.
When Skinner reached the door he found the eviction notice. He slid it in his pocket. He knocked twice, waited. Skinner went around back and looked at the clanging bell.
Wrapping his long bony hands around its hot metal, Skinner silenced the bell.

He went in without knocking…

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