David Young sat on the armrest as his father swung the big Buick through a series of turns on a deserted country road. The boy leaned into the curves and imagined he was the pilot. The expanse of the cockpit window framed a sleepy countryside that was not quite awake on this Sunday morning. The radio crackled and the windows were down. His father smoked a cigarette and periodically flicked an ash out of the large coupe’s window.
“Yeah!” The boy shouted above the radio and the wind.
“Beats church, don’t it?”
The boy nodded his head in agreement. For the past several months, David and his father had dressed for church each Sunday morning and then escaped to the country roads of the small Indiana town.
“You know your Mom’s pretty sick, right?”
The boy studied his shoes and nodded again. His stomach felt as though the plane had suddenly dropped and caught itself again. He did not like to think about it. His mother’s continuous coughing had settled into the realm of white noise in their home. The bloodied tissues that sat dumbly in trashcans were as commonplace as any other waste. He had grown numb to their significance.
His father briefly studied the boy. The man flicked the cigarette out the window, exhaled as he checked the mirror and placed his right arm around the boy. “C’mere,” he said, gathering the boy’s small frame and pulling him onto his lap. “You steer for a little bit.
The boy placed his hands on the wheel and smiled. His father gunned the engine of the massive Buick along the straightaway. The telephone poles sped by the car and the sun reflected off the car’s hood. The man leaned his head towards the window and addressed a field of cows, “MOOOooo!”
The boy laughed and held tight to the steering wheel.
steven woods: Husband — Father — Headhunter — English Teacher — Division I Football Official — Amateur Botanist.