It’s all Kevin’s fault as I think I mentioned before. Those of you with siblings are likely already acquainted with that phrase and it’s myriad of applications. This time, however, it really is his fault.
Kevin grew up with a true blue love for all things fast. He loved Speed and anything that could generate it. When he skated it was with his hair on fire, a reckless abandon throwing his body forward and caution to the four winds and get the fuck out of my way as the sharp blades slit the ice. When he drove there was no second gear and those numbers on the square white signs, well those are just a suggestion, a guideline.
As like attracts like, he attracted fast women too. The highlights in their hair was like racing stripes, blonder on blond, their full red lips soft and dark like a red leather interior. He used that theorem he developed and tested on little Paula Stevens when she started to fill out, the binary ones and zeros arbitration, in which he always seemed to be number one and we all were zeros.
He honed his natural ability at ‘handling’ women, watching how they corner, knowing just when to give them a little gas to maintain control, and when to hit the brakes without skidding into a corner. Their was only two things stopping him from his natural vocation of strip club D.J.
His voice and his unyielding desire to be watching the world run past him as fast as it possibly could.
The voice wasn’t really that big a problem. He had been scamming or stealing upwards of half a pack of cigarettes a week since he was fifteen. Canadian cigarettes, American cigarettes, shit from the Indian reserve, some strange looking roll your owns, he didn’t care he smoked them all. He would smoke out behind Dad’s garage. He’d ride his bike to the park and flop it down so he could smoke as he watched the river float by far too slowly for his liking. He’d steal them from Dad, who wasn’t supposed to have any and he’d steal them from Gran. He’d scam them every where.
When Mom finally found Dad’s stash of Export A’s, Dad blamed it on Kevin. Kevin and Dad went out behind the garage at home. Dad laid into him and you could hear Kevin screaming and crying. Mom blanched, she almost ran out to stop it, it got so loud.
Kevin ran up to his room and slammed the door shut when they came in. I didn’t see him until the next day.
He didn’t tell me until I was almost twenty that he and Dad had a couple of smokes and Dad strapped the shit out of the far corner of the building and he howled as loud as he could. He was supposed to go to the grave with that little x-file.
His voice was hoarse and gravelly, just perfect for a lounge lizard D.J. reminding you to tip your waitress but don’t put your hand on her ass.
The other was a breakneck encounter with physics at its deepest darkest root.
The weird part is Kevin always secretly liked Math, the sicko, listening while pretending to be too cool for it all. He liked the solidness of it, the absolutes. Vagaries and half truths were more my speed, he wanted the ‘real deal’. He wanted an answer that was a real answer not two more questions.
Sometimes that’s the problem with the cold hard equation, no give to it. Here is the physics problem Kevin wasn’t completely able to solve.
1. If Dane and Kevin have consumed 12x 10 oz. Bottles of beer at .05 percent alcohol plus 1x 26 oz. of Rye, aged 12 years, at .40 percent alcohol and are driving in a 1989 Dodge Dart at 120 m.p.h. and meet with loose gravel, a near frictionless surface and the vehicle rotates on it’s y axis 3,600 degrees and comes into collision with an electrical pole of 40 feet height and 7 foot diameter, If all these things are true than how come Dane dies on impact and Kevin survives with scars on his legs face back and heart.
Show all work for full credit.
Dane’s funeral was on a gusty cool September afternoon, the threat of the rain clouds like knuckles of fists in the sky. The wind kicked up dirt like tires spinning on pavement. They buried him in a black suit, the only one I’d ever seen him wear. I’m sure his mother was saving it for job interviews although I had my suspicions that bail hearings were more likely in its future. Or had been, it was a rather terminal vocation it had found, partnered with a white shirt with a thin grey pinstripe and a navy tie. He looked conditionally good, considering the condition his face must’ve been found in kissing goodbye to the splinters of a hydro pole.
Kevin wore a brown suit jacket and white shirt, borrowing a grey tie from Dad. He wore track pants over broken legs, the pants covered by a brown blanket on his wheelchair. His oxygen tank was unadorned. I wore the navy suit I had gotten the year before, the sleeves already to short, long before any wear on the cuffs or elbows.
Kevin wasn’t too bad at the Dixon’s funeral home, I think a lot of it was that he couldn’t see much of anything. It was tough talking to Dane’s parents, they were hanging by a thread themselves. Dad wasn’t much help. He couldn’t stop thinking of how that could so easily have been him crying in the corner, in stead of hovering near his broken but living son.
The Reverend talked about Dane’s unfulfilled promise and how that promise now fell upon the rest of use to complete like an oath. We mumbled in prayer, prayer for Dane’s soul, secretly thanking God that Kevin was spared.
The police had found the eightball key chain that Dane would carry his Dart keys on. A little magic eightball that Kevin would flip upside down every once in a while, “answer unclear ask again later,” it would say.
I rolled him up to the edge of the coffin, he still couldn’t quite look in. At first, he went to place the keys in the coffin but his hand lingered at the rail. Then he pulled and looked at the eightball one more time, “our sources say no” and he held onto the keys.
“Are you sure Kev?” I asked.
He motioned me close and I took the oxygen mask off so he could whisper in my ear, “It’s probably what I should have done in the first place.”
Why, I wanted to ask. So we could be burying you? You were both drunk far beyond the legal limit. Do you think you’d be luckier?
He just put the mask back over his mouth and sucked down a couple of long gulps.
Now he’s married with two kids and a minivan. He drinks tea and coaches little league. He takes Heather to ballet lessons. Somewhere deep down inside behind all the middle class suburban lining I know that speed demon still lurks. Just ask his son....
Dane skates with his fathers reckless disregard, five years old and moving them fast, elbows up and chasing the puck like a greyhounds bunny.
The accident ended forever Kevin’s flirtation with fast cars. He still liked to take them apart to see where they hid all that speed but he walks with a cane and a handicap permit looks a little odd on a yellow mustang. Only fast women remained, but without his hot car and good looks marred by a switchblade sadness and the scars of a date with a pole, he capitalized on a decent voice and an above average collection of music. With a little perseverance he got a job at a run down rum joint called Seductions, the strippers as worn and in need of replacement as the carpet and the maraca sounding tweeters in the sound system, with police records as spotty as the beer glasses. No thanks, I’ll drink it straight from the bottle.
Like most places it is absolutely verboten to date heir D.J. mein slutz. Given this iron fisted rule, one of the few that seem to stick, and the fact that he treats them all like shit, all the girls are desperately in love with him.
Or at the very least feign it, trying to by a dollars worth of leverage with the only credit they have.
He knows the score, he can read the balance sheet better than most of them. He recognizes the lie, the I’ll love just you baby, just you and only you, just keep giving me money. Like a tarnished vending machine of love and lies, you just keep sliding the money in until the lights come on and the sign says sold out.
He loves the fact that these greedy little bitches have to give him money, because to them love is money and it is all they truly love. They know just how miserable he can make their lives. Make them money or lose them money and their only recourse is running his scams or a trip to Marvin to fix it all.
Marvin is the owner. Check that, Marvin says he’s the owner, but I’ll bet if you check that everything, right down to the change in the tip jar, belongs to his ever loving wife Rita. Her’s is the real name on the papers.
Rita, Kevin once told me, used to be a ‘feature’ back when features could make some cash without having to do table dances and other shit. I’ve met Rita a few times. I say met because she feigns forgetfulness every year at the Christmas party (well, both years), but I’m not buying the dumb blonde act she’s got on special for a dollar ninety nine with a coupon. She’s as cuddly as a slide rule or an amortization table. When it comes to cosmetic surgery she’s had pretty much the entire reader board, right down to the smiles... free. At this point I can’t really tell how old she is, somewhere between thirty five and sixty. There is only so many times you can patch a tire, Y’know what I mean? If she still has any factory parts they ain’t under warranty, and to hear Marvin whisper it, the entire drive train is pretty much shot.
I hear when she bought the place it was called ‘Uncle Sam’s’. I guess it was named after the guy who married your mother’s sister and tries to slip his hand up your mom’s skirt when Dad’s getting another beer because drunk is the only way he can take your Aunt and the scumbag she married. He’s the kind that’s been starting to look a little too long at his niece’s nice new boobs.
The first thing she did was run all the old party girls out, the dope smokers and dick strokers that would fuck old Uncle Sam’s dog for enough money for their next line of whatever toxin they force fed their veins. Then she got rid of the old girls, the ones that didn’t know enough to hang’em up, although most of it was hanging already, the women just not willing to admit it.
To some she offered waitress jobs. That’s were Mindy comes in. She became Kevin’s thug. When he needs to tune one of the girls back into the frequency she is the one who twists the knobs. Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but a lot of these girls are from right around Uranus (Mostly the Eastern bloc girls, they are always trouble) and they tend to lose the signal fairly easy. Mindy is a girl you just don’t fuck with and it’s been a long time since anyone wanted to. Even when she was a dancer, she wasn’t really a looker but her hard body and big tits distracted you and she had a genuine enthusiasm for her job. The tits got bigger and saggy, the nipples about to roll down under, and all those free beers finally caught up with her. She had a kid and she started to eat. She might have eaten the kid, we’re not really sure and no one wants to ask.
Mindy will give a well placed shot or two, or three if she was looking for a reason to smack the bitch and the girl will either tow the line or go running to Marvin. In either case Kevin just remembers to play some C.C.R. between sets and reminds the patrons to tip their lovely waitress. I see a bad moon rising.
Now, if they go running to Marvin it will generally involve sexual favours of one sort or another with Marvin, a tall, reedy, smell to much of Pierre Cardin kind of slime ball, or maybe one of his even seedier friends, or some combination of the above. He was probably handsome back in 1973, which is approximately the circa of his hair cut but the cut of his chin is slowly being absorbed by his absolute lack of a work ethic. Or any other kind of ethic if truth be told. Rita owns him like she owns the buffet table he often stands next to or the cold beer he drinks, so it’s really no loss to her, like putting your beer in the downstairs fridge instead of the one in the kitchen. She owns his dick too, but since she never uses it anymore she might as well let someone else use it, lest if fall into disrepair. When you shake hands with Marvin, which I personally try to avoid, you count your fingers to see if you got them all back.
Frankly, I’d rather take the bitch slap from Mindy, all things considered.
If it was a tryst with one of Marvin’s homely home boys then in will end up on a super VHS with a copy for Kevin so the next time she starts doing whatever it was that caught her the cuff in the head, Kevin can show her and make any one of a number of various threats. Sometimes he threatens to put it on the VCR and let the patrons watch, but half the time that would be like running an ad for them. Most of the time though he threatens to drop it off with the police so she can get busted for soliciting.
If she does Marvin, which there is never any video evidence of, he threatens to tell Rita. That would put a quick end to her career as a stripper unless she moves far, far away. Rita owns four of these places and she has a ‘gentleman’s arrangement’ with the other owners regarding renegade strippers. She can move on to more rewarding work as a massage parlour dick puller or corner crab carrier.
But she’ll always have the loving memory of Marvin’s greasy hands all over her, and the magic of his company.
Mindy always looked kinda of familiar and I’ve tried a few times to discretely enquire about her. You have to be careful though if she catches your scent she’s like a big old bloodhound, and not only in looks. It’s a game of fox and hounds, or hound as it where, but you have to keep in mind that when the game ends the hounds usually tear the fox to shreds. She’s also an Olympic caliber party vulture, and since she’ the one managing peoples alcohol consumption that gives her plenty of opportunities. The real trick for her is to manage to keep him drunk enough that he finds her attractive, (no mean feat) and yet not so drunk that he can’t get wood or passes out all together. She can generally gauge the later by his reaction to the peelers, who, once the money is all syphoned from him discard him like the spent husk of wallet he is. After all, they don’t want to fuck him, just fuck him over.
If he can still keep at least the semblance of a hard on and is playing grab as with her by closing time is fate is pretty muched sealed. The only thing that can possible save him is a bit of alcohol poisoning, or maybe if he starts to barf. The whole thing kinda makes me feel like puking too, and it doesn’t seem like that bad an alternative to waking up with Mary Jane Rottencrotch with her bowling ball weight brain bucket crushing your chest and her farmers mitt hand on your dick.
Where do you think you’re going from there?
My own lack of alcohol tolerance precludes me from her dark designs. I would pass out long before I drank enough beer to find her remotely attractive.
In response she has often told me “I’m more woman than you can handle.”
Ya, jumbo size.
She has dropped hints in the past about Danny and her doing the horizontal rhumba. Danny was never the most discriminating of dates. I think he was always surprised that he was going on one. To think he went into that cold sober, kinda sends a chill down my spine that might just start to churn the chili in the pit of my stomach.
Maybe she was one of those Goth girls all pasty white and black clothes. I know black is a slimming colour but I think there is a definite limit to what you can ask black to do for you. But maybe in the right light and with a bone white make up job and maybe a ring through her lip she could have been one of those chicks that hung out at the Core.
I’m certain that the old Coronation Hotel had once been a semi-respectable rummy and gin mill, with all the associated losers and hangers on you might find killing their liver on a two in the afternoon Tuesday, the haze from Rothman’s and Marlboro’s thicker than the fog on Riverside drive at five a.m. They probably had their dart team that drank too much while they played, not that it impacted on their ability. Maybe a pool team too, that took full advantage of the ever so gentle Walkerville tilt to the worn green felt, and the cushions that were deader than old Henry what’s is name, the one who sat in the corner under the picture of the queen and who would tell anyone who would listen for more than ten ounces at a swill about streets of Dieppe and the hospitality of Stalag 19. The one who sat there once in 1945 and never really got up again until the redwings won another Stanley cup after old Gordie Howe retired, the ale and the cigarette’s finally finishing the job that the German Luger started so long ago.
Then Sid Vicious sang God save the Queen.
The run down hard luck time of the Coronation hotel and the punk sound of rancid guitar and corrosive lyric seemed almost a simile. They gutted the bulk of it, the dart board at the dump and pool table sliding all the way down to Walkerville finally, hanging out at some legion hall there. Only Henry what’s is name’s old Essex Scottish mug behind the bar and the picture of her majesty remained.
Danny, his desire to be in a punk band stuck in his head like the can of hair spray stuck to it to mold his floppy, limp hair into a spike, convinced us to join him on one of his trips to “the Core”.
He told us that he was canceling band practice that night, and we were supposed to come out to his house in “clothes we’d wear to fix cars in.” I think he had in mind dirty black jeans and black T-shirts, some running shoes or work boots. Me being the literalist I am, wore royal blue coveralls my Dad bought for me, complete down to the”Ed” nametag, red letters on white, embroidered on the left breast side above the pocket.
I thought Danny would piss himself the way he was laughing.
“Fuck it,” he said giggling as his cousin Tammy picked us up in her little Pontiac Acadian to go ‘to the movies’.
I watched Danny’s father with his head stuck beneath the hood of that old Packard. I didn’t think he was buying the whole movie thing, not with a coupon and a get one free. My Dad assumed we were working on the Packard too. I was expected to give a detailed report when I got home.
Cousin Tammy was a blonde farm girl dyed sable, with big hands like worn leather straps and forearms worthy of a Popeye anchor.
Her skin was so Maybelline pale as to be mistaken for twelve hours dead, and she smelled of hair spray and knock off Chanel. Her black combat boots, Mark III pattern, and long black hose leading to a skirt that could have been mistaken for a belt. I think the black shirt must’ve been left over from her grade five gym class.
Things had changed an awful lot from grade five. She had the kinda chest that you had to rest on the desk every once in a while just so you could lug it around all day. There was a certain bovine aspect to her, in the largeness of her hips and the swing of her udders, she didn’t look like much but she fit like a glove into the core crowd.
The median age would have been maybe seventeen, maybe a bit more, depending on who you let do the math. Fashionably black, expressing their individuality and their rebellion against the codification of the media culture by dressing in conformity black. The black light of the bar lit every speck of lint on them into a galaxy in black cotton. Nebula of heavenly and not so heavenly bodies intermingling, expanding outward from the big bang thunder of guitar strums and visceral lyrics conveyed through vibration.
My ears rang for five solid days.
We stood on the periphery as the nebula swayed. I received a few black hole stares for my white t-shirt that glowed like a summer moon.
I went to the bar and ordered Tallboys, somehow it seemed appropriate, and rested my elbows on the scratched bar.
You can only gain an appreciation for how big a dump some place is after gaining some perspective. Maybe it’s just me but generally speaking the more regal sounding the name of a bar the bigger, fly ridden hole in the wall it is. Coronation seems to fit the bill fairly well.
That night however, our thoughts were like any teenage boys, dirtier than the shot glasses behind the bar.
When I turned away from the bar, beer cans in hand and a pair of black haired pale skinned twins stood in front of me, the Vampirella on the right playing with the loop through her lip with the tip of her tongue. She motioned me closer and I leaned in so close I could smell the sweat, herb and perfume concoction that blossomed from her pores. Her eyes were as green as a spring leaf, though the plucking of her eyebrows where like a scythe.
Thirty years ago when Danny’s mom was still pretty, Vampirella, would have been wearing a tie dye top and bell bottom jeans and she would have been just as seductive.
“Can you buy me a beer?” she said. “I’m only eighteen.”
I gave her the beer in my right hand, and replied, “Me too.”
She smiled a conspiratorial grin, a tiny rebellion we could share.
I would have liked to talk but the thunder of the bass rained through the parade of words and she stuck a long graceful hand into the lop of the arms of my coveralls that I had wrapped around my waist.
My wishful thinking boner caught me off guard, the blood all rushing away from my brain and all and suddenly without forethought I was on the dance floor, a big lumbering glow in the dark gorilla. I’ve never been much of a dancer, my feet are just to slow. With most guys it’s an inability to know where to put there hands, and I’ll confess that I’ve no real insight into that eternal quandary, but for me the real problem is slow feet.
I just tried to keep her in front of me, let her take the lead. I was probably about a foot and a bit taller than her. For the most part I got a really good overhead shot of the blond roots at the base of her night sky hair and the freckle that would occasionally peek from beneath the edge of the cup of her black lace bra.
I reached to her and pulled her chin up and tried to lock her eyes to mine.
The green of her eye a whisper of spring in a cold and wintery world. In her face I saw the warmth of spring sunshine, all living things turning towards it instinctively. In her casual smile, natural and imperfect, like the unsymmetrical blooms of flower.
I can say with some certainty that she made things grow.
I leaned in to whisper in her ear, I couldn’t resist touching the top of it with the tip of my nose.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
Through the peal of the storm of music that vibrated through us, I thought she said ‘Autumn’ and I laughed.
She was the exact opposite of autumn.
When I laughed her eyes glowed gold in the black light. The music and the movement seemed to heat me at some molecular level, as though the room spinning around us was like the inside of a microwave, boiling us from the core of our being.
I wonder what had drew her to me, a lumbering Frankenstein stomping forest fires in sun white shirt and coveralls, a flame burning in a night sky of black nebula. Maybe it was my body, hard as stone, long before the rock slide in my twenties after my knee.
Maybe it was that I was different.
That’s when I noticed them. The crowd of young men that were clustering behind one, a skin head bearing a clenched fist and brooding glare. Of course I didn’t know then what I know now about fighting. Especially when a crowd shows up in front of you with ill intent. I was about twice the size of any one of them and I had Kurt and Howard at my back. Where Danny had got to was anyone’s guess.
Usually in these situations it’s not the one in front of you running his yap, trying to find some courage that is the real problem. In my experience, you’ll find the true source of trouble off to the right or left, usually with his shoulder behind someone else, with a wicked smirk on his face. He’s the one pushing his drunken buddy out for a slaughter. He’s more interested in seeing a fight that he can embellish, or maybe flat out make up his part in later. When I’m faced with this situation now, I just take a quick glance with weight shifted and arms at the ready, down the second row for the guy with the smirk on his face.
When you put a finger on his chest with a “What the fuck do you find so funny?” the crowd will generally turn on itself. After all he’s interested in seeing a fight not in being in one.
Of course, I had no idea about this sort of thing then. I just put my hands up and said, “Bring it.”
Then Danny slid between us and said, “Hey, he’s with me.”
It was like the parting of the Red Sea.
Some of the ones on the periphery asked him about a band called Deadbolt, if they were getting back together. Some of them wanted him to play, but he just shook his head. He introduced as his new band and we just kept our mouths shut. By the time the crowd had melted away a few of them had brought Danny cans of Bud, which he turned over to us.
The girls name was Sharon and when I tried to introduce her and Danny she flung herself around him, much to his delight. A few cracks appeared in his cynic stoicism, he even split a smile.
“I guess you’ve already met,” I said to him.
“Oh, Yaa,” he responded, then melted back into the inky black haze.
After a few more hours of stomping with Sharon and drinking cans of bud lights turned on. 01:00 hours. I think I told Dad I’d be back around eleven, maybe eleven thirty if I had to help clean up. My only fleeting hope was that he might think I was staying over at the Nordstrom’s, working on the Packard.
No Dice. Kevin, hoping to horn in and get his hands dirty on those nice, shiny snap-on tools and rusty Packard told Dad that the shop was locked up and no one was around. But I was still clinging to fleeting hopes at that point, fatherly, female and all points in between. We seemed to have collected a few clingers of our own, a few n’er do wells and hangers on that were clustered around Danny. Sharon slipped her hand in my back pocket, which is pretty much where she had me at that point.
Danny was the only one sober drove Sharon’s car to drop us all off from our ‘field trip’. It didn’t seem to bother Danny that he was unliscenced, and with Sharon’s face stuck to mine nothing seemed to bother me at all. I was flying high but the first warning lights of the impending crash came at Kurt’s. The lights were on and both his parent’s clad in robes awaited his untimely arrival. Other than school and football practices it was the last I’d see of Kurt for three solid weeks.
Howard’s fate was much kinder. I guess he had an older brother that had already worn this groove into his parents. At least Tim was good for something. He staggered at the lamp less back door playing pin the keyhole you jackass before all your fumbling wakes up your folks.
I didn’t see much of the trip out to Danny’s what with my face stuck to Sharon’s and all. She had decided to leave me until last.
We cuddled together in her little red chevette just beyond the edge of my driveway. When it was finally time to go, our kissing and grabbing going a little beyond standard first date decorum, she told me to turn around. On my back she wrote in deep red lipstick on white t-shirt:
Not Sharon! What a dick I felt like stealing second base on a girl whose name I didn’t know.
Just one more tongue swirling kiss, then I was off to meet my fate.
“When are you gonna call Ed?”
“Oh, when I’m finished being grounded, probably when I’m fifty...”
I got out and watched the red lights draw into a single point then turn a corner and vanished.
I walked the short distance to my driveway and saw my father, Larry, fully clothed on the front lawn. He was dressed in a down jacket and was swinging his black Louisville slugger from side to side, like the first couple of swings in the on deck circle with the doughnut off. He said it focused him, calmed him down.
It wasn’t doing much for me.
At my age Larry Larsen’s life was sewn together with the red stitches of a baseball.
He was giving me that death stare, that in a jam three-two pitch look. If I could I would’ve called time and stepped out of the box. Get my head in the game and maybe look forlornly at the dugout hoping the hook would come.
“Edgar, you are in some deep, deep shit my son. You scared your mother half to death.”
He was still swinging the bat, no longer looking at me but looking back about twenty years to maybe a Toledo Sunday afternoon. At his feet, about where home plate would be, was my jacket. I watched the bat twitching in his hand. Even though I was shivering, I decided not to test my luck just yet.
Another swing, flat and level; a nice solid base hit rap into the left field gap. Then he dropped the head of the bat down onto my coat.
“Edgar, I’m waking you up in three hours and fifteen minutes and you’re going to come down to the garage with me. I plan to run your ass ragged. If you puke, you’re going to clean it up and I don’t plan on backing off until I see a kidney flopping around on the floor and I’m gonna make you clean it up too. I sure hope you had a good time with Shannon yesterday ‘cause I got a feeling you’re gonna have a real bad day.”
He flipped the jacket to me on the end of the bat.
“Now get your ass to bed.”
Larry Larsen bought a garage with the money he his dream left him with when it got off the bus somewhere between Durham North Carolina and Toledo, Ohio.
His arm just went dead. The lightning bolt in his arm just ran out of juice and the light that lit the lamp to his future went black. He lied to himself, knuckle balling for a season with the Mud Hens. His moment, was early August 1965, up with the Tigers. He was pitching in relief in a runaway against the Brewers. He faced two batters, Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew, Allison grounding out six three and Killer swinging late on a two-two change up.
Then he took his knuckle ball on the road and the strike zone eluded him. He walked himself right back to Toledo, then Jamestown, then hometown. His one major league check bought him some of a garage and my grandfather Hiram, bought the rest.
Washed up at twenty two and only fifteen thousand days to think about it. That and about a million oil changes later and here we are, two boys, two pumps a wife and a house.
Kevin and I are about an even split of Dad’s personality. Kevin got the left brain part, the lobe that will make you toy with a carburetor until it sounds just right. The pieces that made him want to reach down and make a better pitch, the chess game of hitter and batter.
I am the half with the death stare, the part running the fingers along the laces wondering just how close I can come to batter without hitting him. I’d rather hit you than walk you. I got the parts that over rev the engine, wishing I was someplace else.
Generally speaking I got the destructive parts; the parts that wanted to be anywhere in the whole wide world rather than here.
I think sometimes Dad feels the same way. One day, after some customer hung over his shoulder and kibitzed second guessing every part of his lube oil and filter, he said to me:
“Ed, I wish I’d gotten hit by the bus instead of riding it back to Toledo.” Then he smiled his jaw wrenching another notch, “Well, better go finish fuck nuts lube.”
Of course I didn’t understand it, sick as a dog like I was.
When I got home that night I must’ve looked like I got hit by that bus. I tried calling Shannon. Lipstick, Kevin told me, is difficult to get out of a bright white shirt. A shirt made brighter and whiter by the amount of bleach Mom used trying to get the phone number out and not more than a few under her breath cuss words thrown in as a little laundry pre-soak.
Some of the numbers were still there, hell, they probably still are. Unfortunately, there were a few that might have been a three or a five or an eight and a fifty/ fifty on a seven or a one.
I tried a few combinations, lock picking her phone number as I folded laundry. Mom just sort of scowled, she didn’t think she’d like the kind of girl that would ruin a perfectly white shirt. Some how I thought Shannon wasn’t necessarily the kind of girl you brought home to meet Mom.
I got tired of talking to strangers, folded the Shannon concert jersey and put it in the bottom of the t-shirt drawer.
I got three weeks straight, weekends included of go to the garage after school or football practice. Sort of like hard labour, running around pumping gas, cleaning windshields cleaning the shitters and doing the dips. It wasn’t all bad, people need gas and you saw a few friends and talked to a few faces, some nice some not so nice. Of course, except for scheduled shifts, this was all penalty time, that is to say donated. Gratis. Volun-told.