Next Thursday

“The Next Thursday, just after dawn, seeing a Packard parked sideways at the far edge of our oldest mall’s huge lot, Sheriff Wilks found Bobby Grafton in the backseat, dead. My grandfather was wearing – my parents explained later by phone – his best gray suit, one they’d forced him into for Ruth’s funeral. He’d parted his hair in the very exact middle. He had on a white shirt and blue tie, and his shoes weren’t bedrooms slippers and were shined, and they matched.

It was just what Ruth once loved her Bobby to wear, and now he’d picked the outfit by himself and – as planned – on a site adjoining hers – was buried in it.

The old mall is a fairly good mall as malls go. But I really wish he hadn’t died there. I wish Little Bobby had made it out to some countryside he’d owned before selling cheap on the brink of its prospering. But then Dad reminded us how Grand’s boyhood farm – the twenty acres that his folks could not afford for long, a truck farm with its early blooming hollyhocks – how that rested beneath where Big Elk Browse ‘n’ Buy Mall got built in ’62. Grand’s Packard found the spot, but not the place.”

Allan Gurganus. A Hog Loves Its Life

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