IN THE SHADE
When Gary Sawyer first heard the screams, he thought they were just the noises of boys playing. His son, Kyle, had been out most of the morning with his friend, Sean Corcoran, from two “blocks” up, and they were rarely the quietest of companions. Upon noticing the sharp, high-pitched noises from one of the boys, overlaid with shouted but unintelligible words from the other, Gary assumed that the two were involved in some strange adventure game, or that one of them might be angry at the other. Such things happened from time to time, even between boys who were as good friends as Kyle and Sean were.
Gary sometimes thought of the stretch of road on which he lived—and from the end of which he heard the noises—as a “block,” but it really wasn’t. It was a cul-de-sac, a little, knobby protuberance sticking off the main street, with three houses along each side and four circled around the bulb at its end. Well…there were three completed houses at the end, and one that was still under construction.
Gary was not a fan of the way streets were laid out in Florida developments. He had grown up in the Midwest and the northeast, and one thing you could say about northern suburbia—at least where he had lived—blocks there were blocks. Streets crossed each other at right angles—more or less—and they split neighborhoods into rectangular agglomerations of dwellings, with backyards abutting other backyards, usually with fences in between, as God clearly intended.
In Florida, however, things rarely followed any sane deity’s design. The roads along which people lived tended to meander and twist like big, sightless worms working their way through the soil of neighborhoods, with no clear geometric path. Occasionally they would close into a single, huge loop, but there was rarely anything one could honestly call a block. Also, there were all those little protruding bits of rapidly terminating street, such as the one on which the Sawyers lived—strange polyps of roadway. They were called cul-de-sacs, and residents often referred to them as “sacks.” Gary supposed the French term sounded fancier than “dead end”, but where he had grown up that was what they would have been called. Continue reading