She showed me into the living room, invited me onto a sofa, gave me a glass of weak lemonade, and introduced me to the curious Moody children, mouths smeared with jam, none older than seven, who crowded around their mother. Her husband Clay, she said, would be home shortly. In the meantime I was to relax, make myself comfortable. All the children but the freckle-faced seven-year-old scuttled away. “Did you used to live here?” the boy asked me.

“Yes, I did—a long time ago.”

“It’s our house now.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Are you going to live here again?”

“For a while—until I find a place of my own.”

“Where’s your wife?”

“I don’t have a wife.”

“Why not?”

His mother’s voice boomed from the kitchen: “Joshua, you quit askin’ all those questions—you hear—it’s impolite.”

The little boy rolled his eyes. In a lower voice, he said, “What does ‘impolite’ mean?”

“Something your mom doesn’t want you to do.”

“Oh.”

The boy reached into his pocket and took something out. “Lookit,” he said. In the palm of his little hand was a bullet. “I found it in the street. Some men were shooting at each other. Two of them died. They were all shot up. You could see the holes. There was blood everywhere. The fire department had to come and wash it away with their hoses.”

“Can I see?”

He reluctantly gave me the bullet—a .45 caliber round.

“Why were the men shooting?”

The boy shrugged. “There was a car accident. They got mad at each other.”

“This is dangerous,” I said, holding up the bullet. “It could go off, and, see, this part here at the top could hit you or someone else.”

“Nuh uh.”

“Yes, it could.”

“It’s mine. I found it.”

“I’ll give it to your mom. You can ask her if you’re allowed to have it, okay?”

“No!” the boy shouted angrily and kicked me in the shins, then immediately turned and ran up the stairs.

Dara came to the door of the kitchen, holding a pot with both hands. “Joshua!”

“He went upstairs,” I said.

“His father’s going to hear about this!”