After about two weeks on the job, he noticed a little boy in the window watching him. Four, maybe five. From the street, Jesse couldn't see much of the kid except that he had blond hair. Every morning, passing 1225 West Chestnut - a white house with blue trim and one of those short trees with real dark leaves - Jesse would wave at the little boy in the window.
After about a month on the job, the little boy waved back.
It had been easy enough to save up for a shitty little car, even after paying the rent on his slightly-less shitty little apartment. Things didn't cost much here. The fact that there wasn't anything to do in Garden City, Kansas made it even easier to save money - there was an Applebees, a McDonalds, a Golden Corral, and a pizza place. There was a corner junk store. He had to drive almost an hour to go to the movies, so he just bought used DVDs at the junk store instead. So after two months, Jesse was able to drive down to Wichita and get a fake ID, fake social, fake birth certificate. For a white guy in Kansas, it was easy and cheap.
After three months on the job, with his fake paperwork shit ready to go, Jesse started taking classes at the Garden City Community College. Just basic gen eds to start. Night classes. His brain was rustier than he thought, but he liked heading over to the library to puzzle through his homework. He liked when he could answer a question in class. He even liked writing papers.
After three and a half months, he saw that the little blond boy had a toy garbage truck in hand while he watched through the window. They waved at each other every day.
After four months, Jesse was able to move out of his apartment into a house. It was the smallest goddamned house he'd ever seen, smaller than his apartment even, but it had a little yard and a detached garage for his car. He could paint and rip shit up and do whatever he wanted. He checked out home improvement books from the library and bought a calendar from the junk store - 2007, and it was covered in kittens. He planned out what he would do each weekend. Next weekend - pull up the eight square feet of faded, scuffed, nasty linoleum in the kitchen, and the four square feet of even nastier linoleum in the bathroom. Replace them both. Jesse carefully added "look at new toilets" on Sunday. It would be easier to put a new one in while he had the floor torn up than to do it later. He'd just have to skip Applebees Wednesdays for a couple of weeks.
After six months, the little blond boy walked down the driveway one morning, clutching his toy garbage truck. His mother stood a watchful five feet behind. Jesse hopped off the back of the truck, going to one knee. "Hello," he said. The boy hugged his truck and looked back at his mom. She nodded.
"Hello, I love you," the little boy whispered back. He reached into his toy truck and pulled out a homemade cookie in a plastic bag, the cheap kind that don't even have zips at the top. Jesse took it, and before he could even say thanks, the boy sprinted right past his mom and into his house. Jesse and the mom smiled at each other. She looked tired, and Jesse thought about walking over to say something to her, maybe ask her name, but the driver revved the engine a little, so he just stuck the cookie in his pocket and grabbed their trash barrel instead.
Jesse ate the cookie with his lunch. Chocolate chip.