I’d never known anyone who lived in a van. My mother and I had a house off the parkway that she worked hard for. She said someday soon we’d move into a place with two floors, but I liked our house just fine, and anyway, there were plenty worse houses to live in than ours. At least it was better than the trailer. By now I’ve even come to miss it a little. I suppose the van was just fine by Pryor too.

My grandfather would have called him homeless. Or he probably would have just called him a bum if it weren’t for the “media always changing the fucking terms around.” He always used to say my dad was a bum, “probably still is,” he used to say, and so I always thought of my dad as some homeless guy who smelled like vinegar, begging for change under a hotel awning somewhere. I used to picture the rain falling down over the stoop behind the Ramada sometimes, an old bearded guy shrinking down the concrete stairs to the dry loading dock, where the cleaners made their deliveries. Back then when we lived in Baltimore, before we moved back to Beaufort, I used to wonder about the bums on North Avenue, shaking on the steps of abandoned row houses in the dead of winter. Why didn’t they just move someplace warmer? But those were thoughts I kept to myself.

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