THE BABYSITTER - LARRY STRATTNER
What a fat little kid. I could squeeze him all day. He sat in my lap with his tiny chubby feet crossed as I read him his books. He paid careful attention and knew when to turn the page. I’m glad I taught him to read. If they learn young, they enjoy it. A lot of reading makes you smart, and he is that.
We spent lots of time together when his father was away on business. I will always cherish those memories. Before he even really talked, he would raise his hand when he was dropped off and say, “Hi.” He called me Pa Pa, too, and later Pops.
These days I sit in the house with the shades pulled, reading under a floor lamp next to my recliner. I stick to poetry, William Blake, Rimbaud and Poe. I can’t read long stuff anymore but I like writing that cuts. Most poetry doesn’t interest me; it’s too sappy.
He’s out on my front porch right now. He isn’t chubby anymore, still crosses his feet when he reads. He tilts his chair back to stay in the shade. His eyes are startlingly blue. I still love to hug him if I can catch him off-guard. He says, “For crying out loud, Pops,” but I can tell he likes it. He’s always here in the daytime until the folks that watch me at night bring dinner. Mostly he reads and watches the sidewalk. I loved teaching him to read and enjoy the written word. If someone from the bad old days comes looking for me, he kills them.