söndag, april 03, 2005

The Ha-Ha av Dave King

Jag började läsa The Ha-Ha och blev så upplyft av första kapitlet att jag slog ihop boken nöjd efter 7 sidor.

Howard, veteran från Vietnamkriget tar hand om sin tonårs kärlek Sylvias nioårige son när hon ska in på avgiftning. Howard har buckligt huvud. Han kan inte prata, inte skriva. Pojken heter Ryan.

Actually, I'm not a bad choice when it comes to child care, even if no one's asked me before. There's nothing wrong with my intellect or judgment, and my steady gig, maintenance at the convent, makes for a flexible schedule. Living on disability, I'm home a lot, and I run a stable household and keep my nose clean. So I'm a poster boy: a drug-free, contributing member with no record of violent episodes. I'm practically a hero. If I don't utterly love life, so what? I don't know anyone who does. Of course, with my scar, I'm not most kids' preferred associate. I decided years ago I had nothing to hide and threw all my caps away, and as my hair's thinned, the dent in my skull has grown more noticeable. Then there's the language thing, but people learn to deal with that. Anyway, it's my impression that kids like talking but care less about being talked to.

These are my thoughts when the front door opens and Ryan steps onto the stoop: a brown-skinned, lanky guy of about nine, with wide-set hazel eyes, tightly curled hair, and a few dark freckles across his nose. He's wearing a clean white T-shirt with long basketball shorts and big white basketball shoes. I've never known who his father was, but it's not me: his dad wasn't Caucasian. And of course, my time with Sylvia was long, long ago, whereas Ryan was the surprise of Sylvia's mid thirties. I watch him bend to scoop up the gray cat, and I notice that his hair, which was a fluffy halo last I saw him, is cut now in a sharp fade. He's more a black kid than a white. I walk over to pat his head, but he flinches when I raise my hand, so I stroke the cat's chin instead. He doesn't greet me.

En ha-ha är en slänt eller en brant grop, ett sätt att gräva ner en mur för att inte förstöra utsikten över ett landskap.

I The Ha-ha arbetar Howard med att klippa gräs och han älskar att hänga med sin John Deere på branten ner mot motorvägen, svindel, tyngdlös, tidlös och orädd att dö.

Mowing the slope sends a clear wind blowing around in my skull, and as I hover at the edge of imbalance thera are moments when my old eighteen-year-old self i still practically within reach - as though all the years since were no more than a blink.

Ryan flyttar in och byter station på Howards bilradio. Killen behöver frukost, lunchlåda, något att göra på sommarlovet, hindras från att inte dö (ex i hopp med go-cart i ramp), stoppas om. När Sylvia ringer från avgiftningskliniken sticker Ryan fingrarna i öronen och skriker blablablabla.

On the stoop of the house next door, a sandy-haired kid in headphones is reading a comic book. I point a finger at the kid and say, "Cah," by which I mean go on: say hello, and I believe Ryan understands. In a perfect world, he gets what I'm getting at.
But Ryan says, "It's Fartin' Martin, Howie," and his tone's so snotty that I give the seat a smack with my hand. He jumps at the noise, then his mouth sets. "I don't think so."

Howard får annat att tänka på än svindeln på kanten till döden.

Första kapitlet.
Dave King
The Ha-Ha. Little, Brown and Company. New York 2005. ISBN 0-316-15610-8