My brother, Carey called me this morning with the news that my favorite teacher, Mrs. Little had passed away. I reacted with both surprise and scorn. Surprise because her passing had come quite unexpectedly. I had been sitting down in the middle of my kitchen, a yellow-and-white room with a small, round table in the middle and two chairs, one that sat empty, and the other, with a dirty black pillow, made especially for my behind. I remember sitting there, smoking a cigarette, eating my usual and customary breakfast of dry cereal and black coffee, no cream, no sugar. I had been trying to eat healthier, but smoking was my pleasure of choice. Carey’s pleasure was women, sports cars and golf magazines. I hadn’t seen him in nearly six months. The last time that we had gotten together, we had stood on my screened- in back porch, sharing a cigar that he had bought in some foreign country, and watching an antique show on television. Carey always prided himself on being old-fashioned. He smoked cigars, preferred to play golf over basketball, and wore suspenders if even it was out-of-season. Still, we never really had much in common. For one, he was twelve years older than I was. Two, I was the more responsible one. I had a house that I was renting in a dilapidated neighborhood. You know, one of those just-around-the- corner, on the verge of becoming the places to live. That was my neighborhood. It was a small home. On the outside, it was a slightly faded brown color, a Tudor-style home with an empty front lawn except for one, recently planted evergreen tree that stood out in the middle of a vast wilderness of bright, newborn grass. I relished in the fact that I was renting to own the place, had already made two down payments, and that I lived away from home. My brother had been the one person that had been the most skeptical of me leaving. I was employed down at the post office. Despite what most folks thought, I liked my job. Got to drive the mail truck around town while everyone else stayed inside. Worked regular hours and then came home to my house. Always parked my truck on the side of the house, slightly toward the back. Went in through the side door, next to the milk chute. After I came in, sometimes I went downstairs to my basement, and played pool or did laundry. But mostly, I went into my kitchen, cooked a small dinner, grabbed a comic book and sat out on the back porch. I loved sitting back there, even in the wintertime. If I had been sitting there when Carey had called me, I probably wouldn’t have answered the phone. But I did, and his phone call to let me know that my favorite teacher had passed away, came as a surprise. I hadn’t really done that well in school. Made decent grades, but I preferred to spend my time after school working, doing odd jobs, saving for my house. When Mrs. Little had asked us what were our future goals, the only thing that I could think of was owning a home: Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, middle-of-the-street, paved driveway, fireplace, back porch and a basement to do laundry. She had encouraged me by giving me my very first job: double-checking her graded papers, and typing out her lesson plans. She only paid me five dollars an hour, and I had worked three hours a day for ten weeks before I finally found another job paying me three times as much. I had graduated from high school with no plans on doing anything, and I didn’t. My brother Carey was different. A lawyer by trade, he taught business law by day, and pro bono cases for hip, white folks that lived in a city called Ann Arbor at night. Neither one of us lived at home. But he subscribed to the newspaper, and read the obituaries every week to see if he ever recognized a name. Me, personally, I always thought it was a little strange, but that never bothered Carey. I didn’t have a newspaper on me. I actually hadn’t been watching the news.