I strained a little, twisting the car jack with my hands to crank the wheel higher. A few mosquitoes had already landed on me and I swatted at them, trying to thin out this particularly vicious breed that lurked around the parking lot. I flicked at one as it landed nearby on the closely shaved head of the kid who buzzed around me. I couldn’t remember his name, but he was a bundle of energy, fetching my lug wrench and working the air compressor and just thrilled to have someone new to play with. The questions were endless.
“Are you living here now? Is this your car? When did you get here? Why are you here? What’s wrong with the car?”
We had fun changing my tire as other kids ran through the house, throwing rocks at the abandoned (and not abandoned) cars that were also sitting in the gravel lot. I worked the jack and meandered through his questions.
“I just moved in. Right there,” I said, gesturing to one of the row houses that made up the block next to this lot. He paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. He couldn’t have been more than eight years old.
“Nobody wants to move into the North side,” he said, and was quiet for another moment. I didn’t know what to say, so I cranked the jack another notch while he got up and ran away to play with the old tire. We finished changing it and I said he could take an orange from the house as a thank you.
I am still scratching at the bites of those mosquitoes that got away. They are a nagging itch, ones that I suspect will linger for a little while.