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WATERTABLES/ Adam Marshall Johnson GET ME A WITNESS," he yells from downstairs. I'm lying on top of the covers because Molly, god, she's an oven. She sleeps so hot it makes her look unhappy to sleep, pouty, with her skin puffy and red, mouth folded open against the pillow. "Go put him to bed," she says. "Lock his window. It's cool out." Cool, I think. It's July. Her eyes are closed. Her lips move against the pillow. Then she's quiet all over. I've a few more minutes till she's roused again. I stare at the ceiling, at the roof, and listen to the clamor of a hot South Dakota night beneath me. I don't like to see him at night. He gets confused at night. I listen to him rumble around, hear the floorboards under his feet and the soft thuds as he bumps into things. Something crashes below. MoI kicks me through the sheets. "Jim," she mumbles and pauses. Her hair sticks to her damp cheek. I think she's done, but then she adds, "go talk to him." But she's not really awake. "He's not doing it again," I say. "He's just having a bad dream." I look to see if she'll answer but she just moans some, from the heat. I get up and cross the warm floor to the window and hear her roll up into the free covers on instinct. I look out. My face is in that layer of air that hangs just off the glass and I think it should be cool, I imagine I can see my breath in the pane. It looks like mist out there, looming above the fields, glowing in all the lights. But it's not. It's the dust of topsoil, earth once washed into the Missouri River valley, silt, loam, now leaving us, moving on in a light breeze. We need rain. I stare into the bean fields and find myself almost looking for her, almost wondering what my father sees, a woman running the plow rows in a blue paper dress. I follow this corridor of dark green as it leads south to the Watertables State Mental Health Facility. It's bigger at night, too big, with the lights always on, shining through the tall hedge that hides the high fence. There's no one out there. She's not out there. I know it. When I get downstairs I see a racquetball rolled up against the front door. He's yelling in his room, "She's here. She's here." Then I hear him whispering. The hall closet door is open and the light is on. My gear is lying on the floor, racquets, gloves, balls. The Missouri Review ยท 55 He sticks his head into the hall. "She's back," he says. "She came back." And he's gone again, whispering. In his room, I walk to his bedpost and feel for the string that's run to the overhead light. I rigged it that way so he won't have to get out of bed in the dark, so he won't fall. I chink on the light and we stand there squinting, me and my dad in our underwear. The bedcovers are on the floor. He has dreamed himself out of bed again and he is worked up. He walks to the open window saying, "See." His white hair is standing up straight, unsure of its once-worn part. I pull up his sagging briefs and then shut the window. "Dad, where's the sports bag?" "I give it to her," he says pointing out the window, looking through the glass to the lights of Watertables across the field. "She said she needed it to carry her stuff. She's running away." "Stop it, Dad," I say. "There's no lady. We've talked about this. You had a dream. You sleepwalked again. Just show me where the bag is and let's go to bed." Last week it was the silverware. I heard a jangle in the night and in the morning all the forks were gone. "The bag...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 55-68
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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