My uncle owned a supermarket in the city. It went out of business in the years I was gone, but nothing was ever done with the building. I went to see it today, all derelict and shuttered. The windows were boarded up and it looked as if someone had tried without luck to pry the nails from the wood. Surprisingly there still remained in a decent enough condition along the frontage of the building, these small owl statues that my uncle lined along the flat roof to scare away the pigeons and rats. Like these bulbous, taloned scarecrows. I couldn't see much of what was left inside.
When we were kids, my cousin and I would play video games in the backroom after school as my uncle went about his business. It was the only time I ever got to indulge in what I felt were aspects of a routine childhood that I was deprived of. My cousin was as cheerful as he usually was and he seemed sympathetic to the fact that I wasn't allowed to play video games at home, oftentimes letting me choose the game, and eager to pass me a controller. But I usually preferred to sit and watch.
My uncle was a fastidious type, quiet and with a softly perturbed expression. It seemed to matter the time of day when I looked over at him, as he looked less this way the closer it came to closing time. For a while I remember I wished he was my own father. Even as late as my mid-teens, I had felt this way. It was not only because I would then be able to spend more time with my cousin and get to play video games with him without fear of rebuke, but also because I felt like my uncle had a capacity for seeing things a certain way that my own father lacked. I saw it in his expressions, and I wondered if it was precisely because of this that my cousin seemed so unconcerned in this respect, about how he carried himself in front of other people.
I tend to think it skips a generation, the ability to properly turn inward. The older I got, the less I could confide in my cousin, about a lot of things.