She told him time heals all wounds. Said he’d come around. Just a matter of waiting it out. Started talking to the kid as if he were a teenager getting over his first heartbreak. The boy listened. But, only a little. He’d heard this lecture before. Back in high school when he couldn’t get a date to the prom. Went stag. Just all by himself. Came home drunk that night. That was the beginning of things to come.
There was a ’67 Dodge Dart sitting out there in the driveway. It belonged to his dad. The old man took care of it. Washed and waxed it religiously. You’d think it was a Mustang or a Charger. Some kind of muscle car. A hula girl stood on the dashboard. Sundays they used to go for a ride. The old man would drive through the country with the windows down. It could be twenty degrees outside and he’d still have the windows down. Said the cold air was good for you. Said it made you healthy.
The old man never let the boy drive that car. Told him to get a job and save his money. Buy a junker. That’s what he had to do. They don’t make em the way they used to, the father said. Said kids today felt entitled. Nobody ever gave him anything, he told him. This was before the old man went away. Hadn’t seen him in years. And that car just sat there. The boy didn’t wash it. Didn’t polish to make it shine. It just sat there in the driveway. The keys hung on a small rack in the kitchen. The boy would often look at them. Held em in his hand when his mom was asleep. She told him it was best to just forget about the car. Often threatened to sell it. Kept waiting for the old man to come back.
Time. When you’re young all you got is time, his momma said. And you can spend that time wisely if you choose. Start acting like an adult, she’d tell him. That girl will come around if you do. No one wants to play with a kid. Remember. Your days are numbered. You think you have all the time in the world, but you don’t, the boy would nod his head. You’ll wind up leaving her anyway, mom said. That’s what men do. They leave. Whether it’s running away, going to jail, or, dying; men leave. Just when you think you’re settled they take off. Then you gotta find a new one. That’s what you’ll do. Just like your daddy, she slurped her coffee. Added a little more Bailey’s. And you’ll leave me too, the old woman said. I’ll wake up one morning and you’ll be gone, she stirred her drink. Yeah. You’ll be gone.
In the middle of the night the moon shined down on him as he sat out on the front porch staring at that Dodge. Thinking about what his mother said. What kind of logic was that? he asked himself. Where’d she get all that from? he felt insulted. Maybe she was right. There was the moon, there was the car, the keys hung inside. He was going to prove her right.
Your daddy was a real son of a bitch, she told him. Left me here with nothing. Nothing, but this old trailer. Sure. I got some nice things. But, what do they really mean. I still got the ring he gave me. Probably not worth much. But, it’s pretty. Shines. Sparkles. Well, it used to. Haven’t had it cleaned in years, she mentioned. Momma poured another beer. Have one, she motioned to the refrigerator. Don’t make me drink alone, she said. Don’t be a party pooper. You think you’re better than me. Don’t you? he just shook his head. Looked at the pictures on the thin walls. They were all of her. Kind of like a shrine. It was all mom, all day, all night. He’d noticed this before. This time it really struck home with the kid.
Yeah. Time heals all wounds, she mumbled. Then a long stretch of drool fell from her bottom lip. Her eyes wide open. He was free.