Smoke rose in swirls from the ashtray filling the room with a blue haze. Sunbeams shone in the picture window through the haze like the rays through the storm clouds in a Moses Epic. My dad sat in his black 1970’s naugahyde vinyl chair with the tufted buttons across the back. His thirty-two ounce tall cup emblazoned with a cartoon moose head from Hardee’s sat on the table next to the chair; beads of sweat running down the sides. Ice cubes danced around the top of the cup filled with a third Canadian Lord Calvert, the other two-thirds Coke.
It wasn’t his first of the day. He’d probably been drinking these since lunch. More like his third or maybe his fifth. Wrestling or Dukes of Hazard was likely on the television. It was Saturday night.
Daddy’d just gotten back from granny and grandaddy’s house. When he left he told mama he’d be back shortly. Shortly was never – ever- short.
He was covered in grease. He’d been working on his truck for the better part of the day, getting it ready to go back out on the road on Monday. The tv was loud, like always. I think the neighbors had called to ask us to turn it down. With each sip of this last drink he was getting louder; angrier; more philosophical.
Not that he was an angry drunk. Just when things didn’t seem to be going right. When he had something niggling him. Today it was his truck. As an owner-operator keeping that thing going couldn’t have been cheap. He couldn’t find a back-haul for his load going into Florida on Monday, either.
Having had a broken back when he was a bit younger he was likely in pain a good bit of the time. He was underneath a car working on it when the jack fell. We didn’t have health insurance.
“I’m telling you Ruth, you’re gonna have to use that head of yours for something besides a hat rack! You’ve gotta be smart. Because in this world ain’t nobody looking out for you; nobody’s got your back. Ain’t nobody gonna take care of you. You gotta look out for number one! I swear, I don’t think there is a God. But if there is one, he’s a cruel s.o.b. We ain’t nothing but pawns in some sick game of chess he’s playing.
And I’m telling you something else; I hope I die young! There’s a lot worse things than dying in this world. Watching your grandaddy – well I just don’t care about getting old!”
With that I remember turning my attention to something else. I liked to write even at nine or ten. And continued his rant. He’d rant sometimes like that. Around the world and about everything. Most of the time I just remember his smile. He smiled a lot more than he ranted.
He died at thirty-six. I guess he got his wish. I still miss him.