The man wore a nice coat. That's what I remember most. Other than what he did for me, but mostly I remember his coat.
We'd fought all day, Timothy and I. He took my doll and dug a hole in the backyard and put her right down into it and covered her right back up with all that dirt. Momma made him dig it up and give it back, but she was all dirty, and I didn't like that. So I knocked him down and tried to punch and kick and bite him, but dad jumped in and stopped it. We both got sent to our rooms.
I got us out of trouble though. I might not talk much, but I am cleverer than people think. I climbed out my window and picked some wildflowers, then snuck into the kitchen and shoved them in a vase. Then I ran back around the house and climbed back into my room just in time for momma to come in and let us off the hook. She said daddy had picked her some flowers (which he kept saying wasn't him) and that they were taking us into town for dinner to celebrate that daddy had just gotten some pay for working for the Johnsons next door months ago.
Anyways, we don't have much... never have, really, especially not since Jimmy died. He was my oldest brother. Our farm did much better when he was around. Daddy can't do quite as much as Jimmy always could.
We all climbed into the back of daddy's truck and drove into town. He pulled into the little parking lot, a few blocks down from the restaurant, and parked next to a fancier lookin' car than ours. As the rest of my family walked in, I hesitated a minute with my little brother as he reached into his pocket and dropped a penny or two into the homeless man with the scruffy dog's hat. Made me feel bad, me saving up my pennies for some small candy pieces, and him making me look all greedy. So I dropped mine in and dragged him inside.
Ms. Betty, twin sister to Ms. Bonnie, my teacher at school, sat us down at our usual two tables and asked us what we wanted. Daddy ordered all our food, while us kids sat at the table next to them. I tried to listen to what momma and daddy were talking about, but I couldn't hear because my loud brothers all started talking about silly things like bugs and snakes and about how when summer came back around they were gonna put in a rope swing over at the pond. They talk big.
That's when I saw him - the man in the nice coat. The lady with him was pretty, but he had this glow about him, kinda made him hard not to look at, and I just had to watch him walk up to the counter and pay. He said somethin' that seemed to upset Ms. Betty, but then he did something that made her eyes start to water. Takes a lot to make Ms. Betty or Ms. Bonnie upset, hard lives and all that, so I knew it must be somethin'.
I stared him down as he turned and left. I had seen a flash of green as his hand moved past his wallet, and figured that he had given Ms. Betty a big tip. But that wouldn't tell me why Ms. Betty was walking to us with teary eyes and the valuable green bill in her hands. I had to see him, one more time, so I climbed over my brothers and pushed my face against the glass. The pretty lady caught me staring, smiled at me, and waved. I sheepishly did the same, and watched them wander off down the street.
I turned and listened to Ms. Betty. Momma taught us to be thankful, and to always remember to show it. Before they could stop me, I jumped from my chair. I had to tell this man in the nice coat thanks. I didn't even hesitate, which is weird, because I don't talk much, but this was important!
I pushed through the diner door, making those little bells jingle, and tore down the street. I didn't look both ways like I had been told to always do. We lived out of town, where our street barely ever had cars and usually only had tractors. Out of nowhere, I heard the screech of tires and saw a car, zooming straight at me, too fast... I just froze right up, couldn't even move. The man in the nice coat saw what was about to happen, leaped into the road. He grabbed me and pretty much threw me into the sidewalk. I didn't see it happen, but I heard the car slam into the man. As I heard it, I remembered his nice coat, and had this overwhelming feeling of guilt for messing up his coat, like Timothy had messed up my doll's yellow sun dress.