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  • We spent every summer night crammed onto Roddy's back porch. People sat on laps, on railings, on stairs. Beer cans in varying states of emptiness stood in sporadic formation around our feet. The group was ever-changing but always someone from the neighborhood.

    One night I sat cross-legged near the steps talking with Ruth, a 20-something single mother of a toddler. She lived in the apartment complex at the end of Roddy's block with her son and her mother. Ruth had shaved her head and constantly drew her fingers along the sides as we talked about our mutual admiration for Flannery O'Connor.

    On the Fourth of July, Roddy got into a fight with some guy named Mike who was not from the neighborhood and had been a friend of a girl named Audra who lived in the apartment below. I had been sitting on a fold-out chair looking out over the alley. I did not see the fight start. I heard Roddy say, "I don't give a fuck who you are, you can get off my porch." Then I was shoved forward into the railing as Mike came tumbling backwards. I left that night with a purplish welt right above my eyebrow and the sting of a freshly cut lip.

    I went back to Roddy's the next evening because a little bruising would not break tradition. When I reached the third floor, Roddy was there with a six-pack of Blue Moon. A peace offering I gladly accepted.
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