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i got off at three-thirty, but it took me almost an hour to walk home. The factory is a mile off Pacific Boulevard, and we live a mile up the hill from Pacific. Or up the mountain, I should say. How they ever managed to pour concrete on those hill streets is beyond me. You can tie your shoelaces going up them without stooping.
Jo was across the street, playing with the minister's little girl. Watching for me, too, I guess. She came streaking across to my side, corn-yellow curls bobbing around her rose-and-white face. She hugged me around the knees and kissed my hand--something I don't like her to do, but can't stop.
She asked me how I liked my new job, and how much pay I was getting, and when payday was--all in one breath. I told her not to talk so loud out in public, that I wasn't getting as much as I had with the foundation, and that payday was Friday, I thought.
"Can I get a new hat then?"
"I guess so. If it's all right with Mother."
Jo frowned. "Mother won't let me have it. I know she won't. She took Mack and Shannon downtown to buy 'em some new shoes, but she won't get me no hat."
"Any hat, I mean."
"Where'd she get the money to go shopping with? Didn't she pay the rent?"
"I guess not," Jo said.
"Oh, goddam!" I said. "Now, what the hell will we do? Well, what are you gaping for? Go on and play. Get away from me. Get out of my sight. Go on, go on!"
I reached out to shake her, but I caught myself and hugged her instead. I cannot stand anyone who is unkind to children--children, dogs, or old people. I don't know what is getting the matter with me that I would shake Jo. I don'tknow.
"Don't pay any attention to me, baby," I said. "You know I didn't mean anything."
Jo's smile came back. "You're just tired, that's all," she said. "You go in and lie down and you'll feel better."
I said I would, and she kissed my hand again and scurried back across the street.
Jo is nine--my oldest child.