After what seemed a long time the door opened a crack

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After what seemed a long time, the door opened a crack. Then it opened further. And we could see my Aunt Anna. She was very thin, her cheeks were hollow and her eyes had pouches, dark pouches. Her voice was thin, too. "Oh, Henry . . . Katherine . . . come in, please . . ." We followed her in. There was very little furniture. There was a breakfast nook with a table and four chairs and there were two beds. My mother and father sat in the chairs. Two girls, Katherine and Betsy (I learned their names later) were at the sink taking turns trying to scrape peanut butter out of a nearly empty peanut butter jar. "We were just having lunch," said my Aunt Anna. The girls came over with tiny smears of peanut butter which they spread on dry pieces of bread. They kept looking into the jar and scraping with the knife. "Where's John?" asked my father. My aunt sat down wearily. She looked very weak, very pale. Her dress was dirty, her hair uncombed, tired, sad. "We've been waiting for him. We haven't seen him for quite some time." "Where did he go?" "I don't know. He just left on his motorcycle." "All he does," said my father, "is think about his motorcycle." "Is this Henry, Jr.?"
"Yes." "He just stares. He's so quiet." "That's the way we want him." "Still water runs deep." "Not with this one. The only thing that runs deep with him are the holes in his ears." The two girls took their slices of bread and walked outside and sat on the stoop to eat them. They hadn't spoken to us. I thought they were quite nice. They were thin like their mother but they were still quite pretty. "How are you, Anna?" asked my mother. "I'm all right." "Anna, you don't look well. I think you need food." "Why doesn't your boy sit down? Sit down, Henry." "He likes to stand," said my father. "It makes him strong. He's getting ready to fight the Chinks." "Don't you like the Chinese?" my aunt asked me. "No," I answered. "Well, Anna," my father asked, "how are things going?" "Awful, really . . . The landlord keeps asking for the rent. He gets very nasty. He frightens me. I don't know what to do." "I hear the cops are after John," said my father. "He didn't do very much." "What did he do?" "He made some counterfeit dimes." " Dimes? Jesus Christ, what kind of ambition is that ?" "John really doesn't want to be bad." "Seems to me he doesn't want to be anything ." "He would if he could." "Yeah. And if a frog had wings he wouldn't wear his ass out a-hoppin'!"
There was silence then and they sat there. I turned and looked outside. The girls were gone from the porch, they had gone off somewhere. "Come, sit down, Henry," said my Aunt Anna. I stood there. "Thank you, it's all right." "Anna," my mother asked, "are you sure that John will come back?" "He'll come back when he gets tired of the hens," said my father. "John loves his children . . ." said Anna. "I hear the cops are after him for something else." "What?" "Rape." "Rape?" "Yes, Anna, I heard about it. He was riding his motorcycle one day. This young girl was hitch-hiking. She got onto the back of his motorcycle and as they rode along all of a sudden John saw an empty garage. He drove in there, closed the door and raped the girl." "How did you find out?" "Find out? The cops came and told me, they asked me where he was."

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