The Vehicle My Father Slept In by Jason Sobelman
Saturday or Sunday it is almost excepted of sleeping overnight at the park. But if it is during the week, a non-holiday, a morose shield begins to develop around your plot. You are careful about the world, and who you let into yours. Dad’s plot is an ’86 Ford Econoline van, 300 inline six cylinder. Sky blue paint, complete with oxidation and bald tires. There is a chain wrapped around the bumper. Where he used to tie up the dog. The dog has long since gone. Love is not the scenario that abounds in our paced trapezoid patterns. I get away from the strictness of my mother’s household a couple weekends a month. He gets off having to shell out for child support. I crash in the van as a last resort. Most of the time, I am with my friend Toady. This morning I arrive early at the van. Dew frost still glistens on the windshield. I brought coffee. I like to bolster about are plans for the day. I scuff the passenger side door with my knee, because my hands are full. This is more a precursor to an alarm clock, then an expectation of being answered. I put the coffee on the ground. Then slide the passenger side roller door open. Dust barnacles float skyward with the vibration of the rolling steel. I smile inappropriately as I recognize his spirit has left his cheeks. His fingers show no inner turmoil, quite the opposite a tranquil release with palms faced up. I know what I am not going to do instantaneously. I am not going to run to the nearest payphone. I am not going to bare my soul to a paid civil servant, my doubts, my frustration. No, I’m going to sit here and enjoy a cup of mud with my old man. He would often say, the way they kill off a tribe is to destroy its language. So, I start in.
“Well, I know what you are going to do today. Nothing but barricade tape and sterile sheets, no thanks.” I swirl the coffee and raise my eyes to the cloudless abatement.
“I’m going to a concert. Yeah, going to see Johnny Rotten in Darfur. Belting out ‘I want to be in anarchy.’ I hope he takes a bullet to the gut.” Another swig of coffee.
“Oh come on, I know to take off my rings before entering the gates.” Shielded disgust evaporates in the caffeine aroma.
“Thanks.” I stand up as if reflecting on something. I leave the roller door open. While walking, I realize I will never let anyone get this close to me again.