Rusty was wearing his Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt because it was Halloween. Madison was wearing a full length baggy black gown and striped necktie.

“What are you? A judge?” I said.

“That’s what I thought,” said Julio.

“I’m Harry Potter,” said Madison.”See?” Pulling a sparkly magic wand out of her sleeve and waving it at me. “Abra-cadabra! You’re a…what are you? A farmer? A lumber jack?” Giving me that puzzled look.

“I forgot about Halloween. That’s what happens when your kids grow up and move away.” I had been in the garden all weekend, absorbed in simple, mindful labor. Forgot about the real world, arriving just in time, wearing flannel shirt, jeans and boots.

Julio wasn’t wearing a costume unless you could call his daily attire of beige slacks and neatly pressed shirt a costume. Though he’s lived in Utah most of his life, Julio maintains his Mexican citizenship and dreams of retiring there. Fully adapted to life in el Norte, but steeped in traditions of proper behavior and dignity precluding foolish gringo customs. So much of American society seems a joke to Julio, he just shakes his head and laughs about his good fortune in being paid to participate…and translate for our latino patrons.

“Yo! Bob!” came a familiar husky voice. “I’ve got a cat convoy,” said Mama G., leading three cats on leashes toward the sign-in station for public ps. Cats wearing adorable hoodies. Mama G., a homeless dirty blonde, forty-something lady missing most of her back teeth so she speaks with flapping lips and a lisp, sporting a Green Bay Packers shirt and cap. “Gotta talk to you about something,” she said. “I’m still working on that lanyard I promised but howma gonna get it to you when this place closes? C’mon kitties,” she said. “Cut that out, Sphinxie! Quitit damnit!”

Following her procession to the lounge chairs, where  Mama G., comfortably seated and surrounded by cats, started pulling all kinds of crap out of her capacious shopping bags. “I got some new colors for you, see?” she said, holding up a fist full of plastic strings. “Blue, black, neon-green, and white. Seattle Seahawks, right?”

“Yeah, that’s my team. My sister lives in Seattle and my brother lives in Tacoma.”

“Go Seahawks. But yaknow if I could have one great wish in my life it would be to see the Packers play and be sittin’ on the fifty yard line.” She sighed. “There’s a six-hundred game waitin’ list, can ya believe it.”

She twirled the inch of finished lanyard, separating the jellyfish-like strings dangling down to the floor. “Sorry it’s not done yet,” said Mama G., setting to work, tugging on a string with her few remaining teeth to tighten the weave, squinting at it critically, appearing in profile to be a female version of Pop-Eye the Sailor Man. “I’ve been pretty busy lately, meeting with my case worker. Camping down by the river, you know, and it takes so long to get back to town across that damn bridge. Spend all day going back and forth, that’s why, but my case worker says the housing authority will get me a place. Maybe soon as next week. If I qualify. I haven’t had a drink in eighteen months! I’m not livin like that no more.”

“What about that motel you were staying at?”

“They kicked me out for fighting! Bastards. And the other place won’t let me come back, either. But my case worker’s great! He’s a retired police officer. That’s gotta help, doncha think? He’s got clout. So, howma gonna get this thing to you when it’s done?”

“I’ll be working at HQ. There’s going to be shuttle vans you can ride for free. But they won’t let you take your cats.”

“Ats no problem. I’ll take the city bus. Which one goes over there? Can you get me a schedule?”