The chain on his bicycle chirped as Eric rode up to his house in the humid night air. Mike sat on the tailgate of the U-Haul moving truck, and stood when he saw his son.
“Where the hell have you been?” Mike asked, his tone disapproving but excited under the surface. “Let’s pack your bike.” He motioned with a turn of his neck.
Mike lifted the steel latch off the door lock with a clank. He caught his breath and heaved the door upwards into the ceiling brackets, extending his arms and leaving a trail of must that caught Eric’s attention. The teenager hoisted the bike into his dad’s outstretched hands, which took the weight with a strain.
“Just jam it in front here…” Mike said to himself as his thin, six-foot frame shoved the bicycle across an old futon and flannel blankets. The bike secured, he wiped his hands on his shirt, reached up, grabbed the canvas door handle and jumped down, bringing the accordion door clamoring down with him. He stood eye level with his son and said, “You never answered me, Eric. Where you been?”
“Antigo Park,” Eric said.
“You picked a hell of a time for a hike!” Mike chuckled. He looked down and noticed a soiled white plastic grocery bag in Eric’s hand. “What’s that? A coffee can?”
“Yeah. Almost forgot I buried it.”
“Buried it? Like a treasure or something?”
Eric nodded and shrugged a shoulder, a little embarrassed by what he had done. “It was a while ago, Pop. Like years ago. Me and Ben did it. Thought we’d dig it up when we were fifty or something and it’d be worth millions.”
“What’s in it?”
“Grandpa’s coin collection.”
“Any of Ben’s stuff?”
Eric shook his head no.
“No?” Mike teased, “Got to protect yourself, kid. I’m surprised old Benny hadn’t dug it up and left town.”
Mike swatted a mosquito off his ankle, lit a cigarette, and sat on the curb a few steps away. “Come here. Let’s see what you got.”
Eric cleared away the plastic bag, reached into the rusty can and handed his dad one coin at a time.
“I remember this one.” Mike smiled, squinting in the moonlight. “The lady liberty silver dollar, 1885. See how smooth it is? Feel it. You can barely see her face. Just make out her crown right there. That’s cause your grandpa carried her around in his pocket for years.”
“For good luck, I guess.”
“Why this one? Why not any of these?”
“Your grandpa liked this one for some reason… I don’t know. You should put it in your pocket, maybe it will bring you luck.”
“If I had any luck we wouldn’t be moving.”
“That’s what I’m saying!” Mike laughed. “You need all the luck you can get.”
“Then maybe you should keep it in your pocket!” Eric pointed.
Mike frowned at first. He licked the sweat off his lips and turned the coin over his fingers like a cowboy at a poker game. “You don’t want it?”
“No,” Eric said. “Ain’t worth anything. It’s all worn out. Needs to be mint condition to sell.”
“You’re going to sell your grandpa’s coins?”
“If we need the money.”
“Eric, listen. We are going to be fine, all right? Don’t worry about money. Now, c’mon, let’s go.” Mike stood, flipped his cigarette into the street, slipped the silver dollar in his pocket and jingled the keys to the truck. Eric wrapped the plastic bag around the coffee can, stood, then stretched his arms into the air, arched his back and yawned.
“How long’s the drive, Pop?” He said lumbering towards the truck cab.
“Bout five hours, no biggie. We should be rolling in around two.”
“Is Aunt Heather going to be awake?”
“I’ll call her, it’ll be fine.”
Father and son climbed into the truck and slammed their doors in unison. Mike picked at the radio, while Eric utched his body around, getting comfortable on the sticky pleather seat. He closed his eyes after taking one last look at the house, and the new sign in the front yard that read, foreclosure.
Ryan P. Standley is the founding editor of Word Slaw Literary Journal. For more information, and links to his published stories, visit myspace.com/ryanstandley.