Friday, May 08, 2009

Europa

Water had frozen in the tanks the first time. It was below zero, even in New York and he didn't even want to entertain the thought of how cold it was in Toronto. Water froze in the tanks in the belly of the plane and all American could do was offer soft drinks and liquor on the flight up.

Evan had bought him a plane ticket the first time he flew up to meet him. That is to say, Evan had had his secretary buy him a plane ticket and she had mistakenly selected first class which was okay with him but not so okay with Evan and his bosses.

"I like you but don't get used to it." he had said.

He hadn't, and that was a good thing because he was folded into coach once again, except it was April and an early spring in Philadelphia but now he was flying to the last vestiges of winter in Toronto. Evan wasn't picking him up this time. Patrick was. So there wasn't going to be the soft burble of the Mustang's 3.8 liter firing up and winding up slowly as Evan would let the clutch out, riding second gear to the onramp then quickly shifting through to fourth, pressing the accelerator down smoothly but firmly, he'd be pressed back in the seat as they came up to and beyond speed on the highway east, out of town.

"My car's over here." Patrick pointed at the Subaru. He climbed in and Patrick dropped into first and pulled away from the curb, eyeing the police and security officers while keeping a slight smile on his face. He looked just like his Facebook picture which is how he was able to identify him after twenty three years.

"Thanks for getting me."

"Weird that we had just re-connected when all this happened. Hey, sorry for the duress but I'm glad to see you again."

"You haven't changed."

"You have. You got no more hair and a bunch more wrinkles."

"Ok, you're older, you've got some grey coming in and there was no fucking way you could fake facial hair last time I saw you."

"Smoke?" Patrick offered.

"That's not a smoke, that's a joint."

"Smoke?"

"Mind if we get home first? Leftover from your checkered youth?"

"No. I don't deal anymore. Not for a long time. I get this shit from some kid in the next neighborhood over. I don't care where he gets it."

"Cool. Not for me. And if its okay, please don't light up until we get home."

Linda half smiled when he walked into the hall the next day. Patrick put the car in gear and left. He put the manilla envelope on a marble-topped table in the entrance hall, tucked just behind an arrangement of flowers. Linda looked stoic but she always looked stoic because that's how girls from the Maritimes looked. You never knew if the catch would be good that year, you never knew if your Pap would come home and in Linda's case you never knew if your Pap would be sober enough to make the sail to begin with. So it was one year, the year her Mum came to her suggesting, but not really, that she was, at sixteen, old enough to go out and find her own way.

So stoic was what you became when you found yourself pregnant and seventeen and picking tobacco in the Ontario fields.

"I'm sorry." He said. "I wish he'd have said something last Christmas when I talked to him."

"He had his teeth taken out."

"I didn't hear it. We talked. I think I called him, no, he called for Christmas. I had just talked to him on my birthday a month earlier. He sounded fine. Just like Evan."

"Well, I guess he wanted you to have these." She pressed a familiar wooden fob into his hands and looked in his eyes for the briefest of moments.

"I guess he did, and I'm grateful. But no disrespect. Do you really want to let it go? Couldn't you do something with it?"

"No, no. No, I wouldn't know what to do. I guess I could sell it but he wanted you to have it and we're fine you know. He took care of us."

"I wish I could have said goodbye."

Besides Linda and her daughters and Evan's daughter, some business people he had known and his partner, there weren't a lot of people. Linda had asked and he obliged by getting up for a few minutes. He told a story of the chair out at the cottage. An adirondack that was splintered to pieces at the base of a tree forty feet back from the shore. It had once sat at the shore until a storm had blown up and blown the chair back and into the tree where it sat splintered and had for some years now. For all he knew it was still there because Evan left it there to remind him never to underestimate the natural forces. It was a respect thing.

"So he's gone, and we're all sad. But Evan taught me and I'm going to tell you that, even now, never underestimate the natural forces." He looked up and almost let surprise show on his face. Patrick stood at the back of the large room. He smiled and nodded with an eyebrow raised.

Sonofabitch, he thought as Patrick turned and left.

In the parking lot Linda had walked him to it and he had hugged her, walked her back to the big black car and seen her safely off. Patrick stood by it and stared into the front windshield as he opened the manilla envelope and took out the plates, mounting them in place of the Ontario registration.

"Shit. Sweet." Patrick said.

"She's a beautiful machine. Chapman's pickup they called her."

"Um. What year?"

"Seventy one."

"Yours."

"Mine now."

"Lousy trade. I liked your speech." After twenty three years, Patrick was still Patrick. He got it. It was a lousy trade. A beautiful car but a lousy trade. He tossed the old license on the passenger seat, got in, put the key that was attached to the walnut wooden fob with the Lotus trademark on it into the ignition. He pressed the postage stamp clutch down and turned the key, starting the engine. It came to life with a bark and settled into a baritone thrum.

"Just follow me." Patrick said.

He nodded and pulled out behind the Subaru, taking care to slow over the transition from parking lot, over sidewalk to street because the last time they had done that, gone over too fast with the weight of two men in the seats the bolts that anchored one of the points of the five point seatbelts scraped uncomfortably across the concrete.

2 Comments:

Blogger cog said...

is it the Type 74?

oh, and what color?

very good piece, bunny.

10:14 PM  
Blogger The Caustic Bunny said...

Cog: Not sure. She was a '71 four cylinder with a heavily modified exhaust manifold (equalized backpressure to all 4 cyls.)She's yellow, but not too audacious with a hand-made walnut dash. The leftover wood was used for the fob in question. We used to run her north of Toronto but haven't driven her since the early nineties and won't ever again. It is after all fiction (mostly). Lost him about the same time as you lost one of your motorcycle compadres.

Thanks. CB

6:21 AM  

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