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HIS BROTHER / Lewis Home ? TODAY, THE ROAD TO TOWN is widened. Sidewalks, service stations, 7-Elevens fill the space where alfalfa fields and orange groves once spread. Yet when I think of the road, even as it is today, I think of Alma Snowhill walking. Sunflowers and Johnson grass along the side. His shadow sharp on the macadam. Alma Snowhill. Trudging. Not all people in the community knew Alma Snowhill, but those who did—and they were church members—usually offered him a ride, even though, or sometimes because, they knew he'd sit with nothing more than a murmur and then muster such a sound only if questioned about something as certain and undisturbing as the weather. Even my mother, alone in the Chevy she drove to town on grocery day, would stop. My father had no hesitation on his way to the lumberyard. But if he tried to stir up a conversation, Alma's long fingers would grip the black lunchbox he held in his lap and he'd lean forward so the breeze from the open window stopped twisting his lank brown hair and he'd reply something like "Perhaps" or "If things work out . . ." or "Prob'ly, but a person don't know." So in silence my father would head south toward town. Alma Snowhill, with his brother Chad, had married before my time the Parley twins, Georgine and Geneva. Though twins, they were not identical. Both were heavy. But while Geneva was short, round-shouldered, with sad eyes and a melancholy smile, squashedlooking , Georgine, who always seemed to be older by years rather than minutes, stood six inches taller, fifty pounds heavier, her dresses so snug-fitting they bulged like a gunnysack full ofgrapefruit. She had brisk gestures and a broad doughy face. She played piano at church and sometimes the pump organ—played, as they say, by ear. When Alma came to church, he sat, thin and sloping, in the back corner. He didn't have a job in church—or a "calling." That is, he didn't teach a Sunday School class or a Mutual class. He held no secretarial job for any of the auxiliary organizations. I never heard him give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. With Jemmy, his boy, he milked the six cows and sent the milk to the creamery. After Jemmy left for his mission, Alma asked for no help but milked the cows alone, rising an hour earlier every morning, walking to town still, sometimes clear to the city limits before anyone happened along. The Missouri Review · 225 Usually, Alma was long gone to the feedstore by the time Georgine was out and moving in their Model-A. Georgine needed the car for her "errands," she said. She drove to town. She drove to her sister Geneva's house. She drove to Ruiz's Store where she sat behind the wheel and drank a bottle of strawberry soda pop. She drove to the church house on Wednesday morning for Relief Society and on Tuesday afternoon for Primary. Once we passed her as she drove on the shoulder of the road, two of the tires off, the car grinding forward, lop-sided. My father shook his head without a word. In the back seat sat Jemmy, Juliet, Lily, and Joseph, giggling at the adventure, Juliet's shrill titter leaping the space between our cars. Hunched beside Georgine in the front seat was Geneva, scarcely able to see over the hood. Sad Geneva. For by this time, she was a widow. AU this took place long ago. Though I was young, I was old enough to understand, perhaps more than my father thought or he'd never have let me remain on the ditchbank by the bridge that April evening when Alma Snowhill stopped to ask for money. I was helping irrigate the orchard. I expected Alma to pass us by, trudging on in the dark, but he stopped when my father asked, "How's it going, Alma?" He must have planned to stop, for his footsteps turned almost the same time my father spoke. In a darkness too deep to make out his features, I heard his soft question...


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