birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

A Couple of Dollars on a Good Day

Again, I end up saying so "what does this mean, really . . ." Because there are jobs dotted along the way, and each one of them could be first, depending on what a job is. So, the first time I took home pay. About 12 years old, as old as my son is now, and I wouldn't let him near babysitting. 25 cents an hour, working for the Noonans, taking care of Jimmy, age 7 or 8, my brothers' age and his friend too. And Laurie, slightly lost, slightly spoiled little girl, a couple of years younger. Linda had a certain hippy elegance, a wiriness and an edge. Jerry was large and whenever our orbits intersected he was sleeping on the couch, unless he was driving me home. They didn't last. And then it was years of endless babysitting, helping Linda out, making canned ravioli and mac and cheese and trying earnestly to keep the kids entertained. Mostly making sure they went to bed. Sometimes there were games and stories. There was a lot of time in the park that bordered their two unit house. Inside, after they were asleep, there were adventures. There was a lot of tv.

On Saturday night, it was SNL late into the night and Linda would linger and watch before loading me into the car. There was a lot of reading, some of it horror, some of it scifi, some of the sort that made me tremble and cower until Linda finally returned. There was exploring the prog rock vinyl collection, trying to understand what made Yes deep and the allure of ELO. Sometimes it was just an escape into the ease of Jim Croce or Cat Stevens. There were long, late night conversations with friends on the phone, cord stretched from the kitchen to the couch where I waited, waited for the moment I could go home. Upstairs, in the other unit, there were adventures of a different sort. Diann. Kind to me. Talked to me like an adult and sometimes told me about her broken heart and her creative desires. She wore hippy clothes and her hair long and one night slit her wrists and smeared the connecting hallway with her blood. She lived. Linda kept me out of the hall, but I looked.


Saturdays at the Office