Half TankThe old lady shook. A gas hose, detached from the pump, chased her rear bumper like a rat’s tail. People drive off with the nozzles all the time, the attendant said, it’s no big deal. Still, the police came. Listened. Covered the spill with kitty litter. The lady swore she meant no harm, said the incident was a case of forgetfulness, a senior moment, but the police hauled her away after she got feisty and spat on their shoes. Francisco saw the whole thing from across the street. He couldn’t stop laughing, and tonight, he sits in his open window at home and draws cartoons of the scene, only in his version the pump is on fire. Explosive. Francisco’s older brother Elijah dances with citronella candles on the deck below. They are free because their parents have now been gone a week, and Francisco wonders if, like the old lady, they too forgot about the tethers in their lives before they fled. He looks up. A moth with a punctured wing beats within his reach. Dogs bark. Meanwhile, Elijah’s shadow spreads across the vinyl siding like gasoline on hot asphalt.

Photo used under CC.