My dad, his car, and burnt remains.
My old man taught me to drive
a month shy of me turning sixteen.
He took me to Tyler State Park
in his 83 Chevy Malibu, named Gus.
The color an odd safety of eggshell
mixed into the utmost toxicity of lime green.
We wheeled back to the most secluded lot;
an asphalt aggregate attempting at an oval,
crudely marked out into spaces, designated
by three foot high wooden posts, erected
roughly a dozen feet from one another.
The lot was empty, we parked at the far end.
After a quick scan ensuring our privacy,
the old man reached into the top left pocket
of the faded flannel shirt that he wore like skin,
to grab the pack of Camels; which he called "humps"
that were always there. Instead of a cigarette,
he grabbed a joint, turned down the Van Morrison,
and said to me in the thin sliver between severely
silly and ridiculously sincere, "Son, ya ain't gonna
drive worth a shit if ya can't relax".
We smoke, then switch seats.
The first thing that I do is back into one of the posts.
"Best just to get that out of the way", he managed to say
between belly laughs, but I then ease into a slow groove
fairly quickly. After about a half hour the old man is con-
tented enough with my abilities, tells me it's only twenty
minutes to get home, that I might as well drive.
I manage well enough. Too much brake, and gas,
not enough consistency in my rate of speed. I get us
five minutes from home in this fashion before a fella
behind me gets fed up, he starts honking, flashing
his lights, and yelling. Pop sees me start to panic,
tells me calm and stern to put the car in park, says
he needs to ask the irate gentleman a question. Now
stopped dead in the road, the car behind me is blaring
every aggressive sound that it can muster, until it was
captured by silence, as my father exited the car.
My old man didn't take his third step
before the impatient driver spontaneously
decided to reroute through the front yard
of the residence to the right, nearly hitting a tree,
and speeding away as if the devil was collecting
past dues. The question to: what happens when;
a six foot three, three hundred and thirty pound man,
with a beard made of the Brillo; that scrubs the pots
that cook the suppers, over the campfires from the
western novels that most men merely read, feels like
his son is threatened, is answered by the smell of burnt
rubber and frenzy.
A few years later when my father had grown ill,
that atrociously beautiful Chevy became mine.
It saw its final day when its engine caught fire,
less than a mile from the house. I managed to roll
the retiring warrior into the parking lot of a funeral
home. My old man seen it as a fitting tribute, a Viking
send off, his car to Valhalla. The folks that ran the home
were so kind to the alleviated soul of that old Chevy,
that later that year when my pop passed away, he
requested that his bones become embers there as well.