It was a neighborhood whose third story windows watched over children riding bikes that cost a month of paychecks. Every tree had flowers or fruit. “Apples?” Walter wondered. “Probably. They always have apple trees.” All the cars were either black or white, all of them imported. Not a single rotten board of siding. Not a solitary mossy shingle.

Walter thought about the home he’d broken into, how it wasn’t even nice as these, how its apple tree had tiny sour fruit that served no real purpose, how its driveway split with cracks that fanned out like river deltas filled with dandelion wishes. The bus jolted to a stop, and Walter wondered through the window grates if they really had to take this route.

Back home, Walter’s wife and daughter walked to the bus stop by their apartment. It was hot, and his daughter pinched her nose as they passed an alley. Their pass was expired, but the driver let them ride for free.

The man that Walter robbed was some sort of salesman. He was overweight and always gone. It was early morning when he did it, the sun just barely making purple shades over the bay, and every light in the little home was off, so Walter thought no one was there. He was wrong.

Walter didn’t get a thing. Far as he could tell there wasn’t anything to get. The room he saw was all but empty, just an old rocking chair and a pair of dress shoes. Walter thought about grabbing them, but then the man came in, shot him in the leg and called the cops.

Fifteen years for burglary. Nineteen stitches and a little nerve damage.

The bus began to move, coughing spumes of smoke as thick as thunderclouds that coasted for a while, then relaxed. A girl that could’ve been his daughter watched them, laughing almost mockingly from the lavish grass. She picked an apple up from underneath an ancient tree and threw it toward the bus, and Walter fogged a breath onto the window so he didn’t have to see it land.

“Fifteen years and fucked up nerves,” Walter thought. “And now the fucking neighborhood with all the apple trees,” and he remembered planting appleseeds together with his daughter in the yard.

#alcatraz #sanfrancisco #bayarea

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