One Last Time

The old Ford had a line going across the dirty windshield; a crack that had been there since he bought the truck back 2015. He always swore he’d get it fixed; swore to himself.

He bought it off this dying man in Tulsa. Got it for a thousand bucks. Rust underneath the quarter panels, just over a hundred thousand miles on it, the blue paint was dulled by the Oklahoma sun. So was the old man.

Cancer had him. Never bothered to get checked, even when he felt weak. By the time he was sixty-nine it was too late. It’d spread all over. The old man wanted one last thrill and he was willing to part with the pickup to do that. Willing to part with a lot of things actually. Sold his John Deere tractor which was getting old and ready to go to heaven, got rid of his pontoon boat that he and Charlene had thrown lake parties on, and he got rid of the house where they’d raised two kids, a boy and a girl. Don’t come around to see him since mom died. That was years ago. They’d talk on the phone. Neither of the two knew he had cancer. He kept it as quiet as he could.

And, the old man wanted to go to Vegas one more time. Had twenty grand on him after he’d sold everything. Just wanted to stay at a nice hotel, eat a few good meals, and shoot some craps. Maybe find the charms of a young woman to take him away for awhile. Everything was negotiable.

He decided to take a Greyhound out there, travel across the land that’d been a dust bowl at one time, a hot bed for socialism back in his grandpa’s day, where Indians once ruled, where grass was brown in summer.

The old man traveled with a bottle of Jack Daniels up under his coat. Sat in the back and sipped on it. Kept looking at road signs and billboards, truck stops and weigh stations, he took it all in.

Had it in his mind to put a hundred in a slot machine when he first got there. Charlene would’ve never let him do that; he was gonna break all the rules. He put in that hundred and won back fifteen hundred; felt good to be ahead.

Placed the fifteen on craps and won there too; got him twenty-five hundred. He was starting to bleed from his mouth a little. And his nose. Took out a white handkerchief and applied it firmly. Went on and placed a bet on the Super Bowl; more dark black blood was coming out. Sat and had a scotch when the bartender asked if he was alright? Yep, the old man said, then fell to the floor. Took his last breath and noticed flashing lights of red. Somebody had won. His hand was done.

The truck had a crack in the windshield. Still hadn’t been fixed.

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