There was the time my father’s car wouldn’t go fast enough.
“My dad,” I said, but paused before saying more, unsure if the story was worth telling, then continued once I decided it was. “My dad almost killed you.” I lessened the gravity with a hint of playful nostalgia, but failed to capture her attention. She responded with a perplexed expression, somewhat wondering what might come next but not desperate to find out. “His car,” I continued, and went on to explain that it hadn’t been built to get somewhere fast, rather to get somewhere eventually. “It wouldn’t go fast enough. They said another five minutes and we’d have lost you.”
But news of near-death, even her own, no longer rattled her composure. “That sounds about right,” she said, “he never liked me.” This was true, but what she said next proved more difficult to believe: “Besides, it’s worth a lot of money.”
Full with rust and ripped seats, the car looked to hold little value but if she thought otherwise, it wasn’t without good reason. I responded with a similar perplexed expression, but my version conveying an impatient curiosity missing from hers. “I needed the car,” she said, “so I drove you to work.” After she got back home, someone knocked on the door, an older man wearing a dark suit. He steadied his gait with a cane. “That cane was about as fancy as any I’d ever seen. He wasn’t from here, that’s for sure. He was from the city, I don’t know which one, but a big one.” He asked her if she owned the car out front, then asked if it might be for sale. “Can you believe that? He just knocked on the door and asked if he could buy our car, said it’s worth a lot of money.” She stopped short of asking how much but imagined a lot of money to someone like him was a lot more to people like us.
I asked why she kept this from me. “Because,” she said, “money like that changes things.” And she liked things the way they were. She reasoned that if he was willing to buy the car, if it was really worth something, we could find someone else if we ever got in a jam. I nodded in agreement and left the car just the way it was.
I like that memory, but years later there came a time when my father’s car went too fast, and I don’t like that one at all.
Wintry weather blended sky and landscape, making it difficult to set them apart. A motorcade wound through town, fronted by a dark car. I followed in my father’s car and a line of cars followed me. We had our headlights on, but not because they were needed. The dark car set the pace at barely a notch above not moving, like he was ahead of schedule and needed to squander some time, but as slow as we went, a deliberate crawl toward a place I didn’t want to go, it was still too fast. And while the morning had been cold, the afternoon was even colder.
FOSTER TRECOST writes stories that are mostly made up. They tend to follow his attention span: sometimes short, sometimes very short. Recent work appears in Halfway Down the Stairs, Flash Boulevard, and Club Plum. He lives near New Orleans with his wife and dog.