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FOUND ELM % howard remained at his old homestead, waiting to be evicted. Tahoka Texas McCloud was on his mind. What could he do for this granddaughter? Call her mother? He didn’t know how to find Heather. He had googled her under Heather Elman and Heather Cutter and Heather McCloud, but nothing turned up. Ask Latour, he’ll know. I couldn’t do that. You can’t ask anybody for anything. You’re a hopeless case, Howie. He took the bullets out of the Ruger and put it in the glove compartment of his car. When they came to evict him, he would go peacefully. He didn’t want Birch and Tahoka to hear that their grandpa had died in disgrace. The “wintery mix” ended up as a very nasty ice storm. The weather honchos were right. The sky really did produce a mix—snow, rain, hail, and the pay balls of a pool table at Cliff Knox’s place in the basement of the Latchis Theatre in Keene oh so many years ago. The power in most of Darby was out for a week. Because of the ice storm and maybe because of politics within the planning board and plc, the planning board postponed its public hearing until one week before town meeting. Howard liked living without electricity. The woodstove kept the house warm and the gas still flowed to the kitchen stove, though the burner had to be lit with a match. The well pump was out, so Howard melted snow on a big pot on the woodstove to get water to flush the toilet. Thank the creator of the universe who made shit float downhill. He liked burning candles. He liked sitting in the dark. “I’m a pioneer,” he said aloud, as if to Elenore. Meanwhile, the word spread around town that Howard Elman had Alzheimer’s. He was no longer a horse’s ass, no longer an intimidating 191 presence, he was an object of pity. The selectmen met in a special meeting with the town attorney to decide what to do about Howard’s status as town constable. The attorney advised them that it would take some time, not to mention expense, to prepare a case to bring before a judge to remove Howard, because technically he was an elected official. He could not be fired; he had to be impeached. The selectmen decided that since town meeting was only weeks away, it was best to wait, and the town no doubt would not re-elect Howard Elman as its constable. The ice storm caused considerable damage in Great Meadow Village , where roofs of the flimsy mobile homes collapsed from the weight of ice on the snow already there. “God’s wrath, know what I mean,” opined Buzz Dorne. The Keene Sentinel reported that several children were injured in one of the roof collapses in an unregistered daycare center in the trailer park, and the director of the operation, one Gerald McCracken, was in serious condition at Cheshire Hospital. According to the paper, he had interposed his body between a couple of kids and falling debris. Tubby McCracken had become the hero that Howard Elman had always wanted to be. When the lights came back on, Howard felt happy for Tubby and sad for himself. % % % One morning at dawn Howard was finishing up his coffee when he saw a pickup truck pull into his yard. On the door of the truck was a logo of a meetinghouse steeple and the words “Paradise Lots Covenant/ ​ Connecting Tradition and Technology to/ ​ You.” Howard watched through a window while a man in his forties dressed in blue jeans and a blaze-­ orange vest over his parka got out of the truck. He was husky with a swagger in his body carriage, but his face didn’t convey any meanness. Howard went out to meet him. “Something I can do you for?” Howard said. The man smiled, not exactly a sarcastic smile. No doubt he was amusedbythesightoftheoldgeezerthathehadheardhadAlzheimer’s. “My name’s Bernard LeClair, but everybody calls me Bugsy. I represent Paradise Lots Covenant, who I believe are the owners of this property.” “So they sent you to kick me out.” 192 “No, sir, I’m not in that business. I’m a heavy equipment operator and contractor in charge of site prep on this lot.” A little alarm bell went off in Howard’s head. He was visualizing a small bulldozer. “I have a lot of respect for...


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