Snow in April. Tornados in March. Seemed like everything was backwards. Coyotes circled garbage cans. Knocked em over. Rummaged through trash. Half eaten food, beer bottles, old cans of Crisco, moldy white bread, plastic bags ripped open. A few black banana peels laid on the street next to the rusted out Charger parked in front of the trailer. Winds blew cold.
The television was on in the front room. An ice storm was coming to the region. State trucks spread salt all over Highway 10 going east and west. The old man heard em off in the distance. When he was younger he’d go out there in Kroger’s parking lot and spin out at three in the morning. Now he just sat and watched em talk about weather. The trailer shook from the wind.
He listened and watched the pretty girl tell him that all hell was coming. Freezing temperatures moving up into the 30’s then a cold steady rain. Ice formed on windshields. He heard the frozen pellets hitting the tin roof. Kept on watching the weather girl. He wondered why there wasn’t any black weather girls. They were all white. And young. Mostly blondes. A few brunettes, but, pretty much blonde. He didn’t complain.
On the coffee table was a bottle of Miller High Life half empty with a cigarette floating in it. Boy came through the door. Said, it’s bad out there. Told the old man he’d best stay in for the day. Boy went over to the refrigerator and grabbed a cold one. Twisted the cap off and took a long drink. Put some Skoal between his cheek and gums. Spat into the half filled bottle. Beer turned black. Can we watch something else? he asked the old man. He nodded his head, yes, and tossed him the remote. Boy flipped through the five stations they had. Most of em talked about the weather. All these women talking about the storm, Boy said. The old man nodded again. How come I never see them ’round town? he walked back to the fridge. They don’t go to the same places I go, he declared. Nope. You only see em on TV, he twisted the cap and threw it on the floor.
The old man looked at him. A little respect will ya? he asked. Look at this place. Filled with crap and bottle caps on the floor. All ’cause of you, the father said. Boy looked back at him. Leaned over and picked up the bottle top. Looked at it. Then tossed it on the coffee table.
You expecting company? Boy asked. I mean, you wanna keep a tidy ship all the sudden?
Don’t start that with me. Just asking for a little respect. That’s all. Would it kill ya? the old man looked at the pack of cigarettes on the table. You know, ever since your mom died things have gone down hill, dad said. She’d keep a clean place for us. I just don’t have the strength, he stretched. One day this’ll belong to ya. Take care of it will ya?
Boy shook his head. Who are you? Ben Cartwright? You think this is the Ponderosa or something, the wind blew harder. The walls shook. No thanks, he said. I’ll get my own place.
You ain’t capable.
I am too. I’m capable. You’ll see, he told him. I’ll do all kinds of things ‘fore I die, the door blew open. Puddles of water formed on the kitchen floor. Sleet fell harder. He slammed the door shut. Went back to watching the weather report. I like her, Boy stated. One day I’m gonna marry her. Yep. One day. I’ll get my own place and marry her.
Fuck you old man. You ain’t gotta crush my dreams. That’s all you ever done. All my life has been can’ts. Can’t do this. Can’t do that. I’ll show you, he got up. I’ll show you, he walked out the door. The old man could hear the engine on the old Charger starting. Heard him take off. He laughed. Lit another smoke. And continued watching the weather girl.