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The Duck Walk I am a known heretic in these parts because I mow the lawn on Sundays. I can feel my neighbor’s eyes on my back on the Lord’s Day as I maneuver through my special, signature Square-in-a-Square mow pattern, or when I take out the trash, or clear brush from the swamp. I know they’re watching, and so for the hell of it I’ll sometimes go bare-chested, pot-belly-proud like my Daddy. If I think of it, I’ll up the throttle on the mower right when the neighbors drive by. And I slow and look at them, and they slow and look at me, and it’s like I’m telling them with my eyes: Mowing the lawn on Sundays is not a sin. And the look in their eyes says back: Yes, it is. And today the child’s eyes are on me, too. She’s my sister Anna’s kid, going on five. Cassidy Penelope. It’s classic Anna to pick for her child the longest, most complex name she could find. It’s also just like Anna to up and leave a situation that doesn’t suit her, and then call one of us to go and comb it all out. Like leaving Cassidy Penelope on a friend’s porch so she could go fight fires in Montana. Then calling our sister Carla from a bus stop in west Kansas to ask if the child could come and live with us instead. You should have seen Carla when she got the call. She walked all the way from our house to the gas station, all ticked in her housedress, looking like some sweathog’s sister in orthopedic boots, with the curlers all ripped from her bangs. “Anna told me Cass is my second chance,” Carla had said. “She said, ‘You raised me; Look how well I turned out.’ I could just kill her.” It is not easy being the brother of these women. Ma always liked to say before she died that each of our fathers was as different as they make men, and she had the kids to prove it. We each turned out favoring our daddies: Carla all stern and round; me, oil-stained hands, sandy-brown all over and sideburns to boot; Anna redblonde and vixen-trim and always on the take. And why Anna picked firefighting over child-raising is beyond me. I know some women just aren’t hardwired that way, FICTION | 43

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