Spring 2006

A death in the family

Adam Braver

Adam Braver is the author of “Mr. Lincoln’s Wars: A Novel in Thirteen Stories” (2003) and “Divine Sarah” (2004). His work has been selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program, the Border’s Original Voices program, the Book Sense 76 list, as well as many other year-end lists. He lives in Rhode Island, where he is on the faculty of the Creative Writing department at Roger Williams University. His newest novel, “Crows Over the Wheatfield,” will be published in June 2006.

At the moment that young Ronnie Kennealy was struck and killed on Route 111 in a hit-and-run accident, Lupe Hernandez was hiding in one of the dozens of old bathtubs littering the sloping field that dead-ended into the roadway called Route 246. Her father worked for Mr. Kennealy, hauling the old bathtubs from condemned houses, helping Mr. Kennealy refinish them, and then delivering them to new owners. As Mr. Kennealy’s sole employee, Lupe’s father worked long hours but never complained, glad to have work that respectfully placed food on his table for his baby boy, his wife, and his seven-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Lupe. Dave Kennealy had taken him on a year ago, and while it would be wrong to say that he treated Renaldo Hernandez as a member of his family, he did do what was becoming a rare sight these days between laborers and employers: he treated him with respect. Dave Kennealy didn’t mind the days when Renaldo had to bring Lupe along with him. “She can play all she wants,” he said, “so long as she doesn’t stop you from working. And that you make sure that she plays safe.”

On the afternoon that Ronnie Kennealy was struck and killed on Route 111, Lupe Hernandez was busy planning for her first communion. It had been on the forefront of her mind a few months after turning seven. She had already decided on a communion outfit, a hybrid of one seen in a storefront window in Carver and one from a magazine that her mother had been keeping for several months. Lupe could picture herself in the embroidered organza dress, with the bolero buttoned just below her neck. She was still deciding whether to wear a veil, but she had concluded with certainty that the crown, along with her lace gloves and matching bag, would also be trimmed in organza. Driving with her father to Kennealy’s Antique Tubs, Lupe had tried to engage her father about which style of shoe she should wear, contemplating material and toe...

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