We haven’t always envied clerks and stockers at the Big Box store. Now we chat with Carl in appliances or listen to Edith at register 6 and we dream of following them home for a hot dog dinner and a night with the TV. A night in the family room. A porch. Dad says we’ll stop running soon, find a house, get back to school. For now, we move from Box to Box and camp. Did you know you can spend a day in one of these places and never use a credit card or leave behind a fingerprint? Never dawdle. Walk with purpose. Of course, we’re on surveillance tapes, but not together, and if there’s no reason to look at them, there’s no reason to panic, Dad says. Makes sense, but couldn’t they spot us when they’re looking for something else? I’m so happy sometimes I smile at the cameras and wave. Whatever Mom says, I wasn’t abducted, and I’m not missing if I’m with Dad, she is. I gather the food. I’m pretty inventive. We don’t eat bait or dog food, but I know which kinds can make you sick. On the plus side, a lot of balanced nutrition will fit in your pocket. Luckily it’s summer, so the stores have tents set up with sleeping bags, camp stoves, cots. We hide in the tent while they close up and come out when they’re gone to shop for clothes or “look at the stars.” If there are motion detectors, we let loose the parakeets. Two false alarms and the cops stop responding. Then we cook and talk and pretend we live somewhere. There’s nothing more delicious than a stolen, well, anything. And there’s plenty of TVs in electronics. Just, no porches, and never the same place twice.

Copyright © August 7, 2008 David Hodges

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