In the morning Tim Hurd picks me up in front of my house. I told my wife I would be gone for about three days but not what I’d be doing. She didn’t ask. She’s not a dumb broad like most of my friends married. She doesn’t want to know, which is an intelligent attitude. There’s no way she can stop me and she doesn’t want to sleep on the street either.
Hurd’s car is a jet black Chevy sedan, an old fart car that has been…enhanced. I can tell from sound of the engine that it is made to haul ass. It seems like I haven’t even put my gym bag in the back before we’re out of town. He goes faster and the engine opens up, snarling and liberated to be what it was meant to be.
I keep remembering one summer night when we were in high school. Hurd and Dupree and I broke into the cellar of a leather goods store, really expensive stuff, Vuitton and Prada and what have you. We didn’t get caught but my father found out and raised bloody hell with me.
He looks sharply at me and almost rearends a car before he slams on the brakes and cusses.
Who told you that? He demands.
Winston tried to get a friend of my old man to peddle the leather. I guess he talked.
Yeah but how’d he know?
You mustve told somebody who told somebody else. Or you were dumb enough to be seen with it.
Never mind, he says, brooding. Ancient history.
Why didn’t you tell me it was like that, Tim?
I was protecting you, Harry, he says. You didn’t need to know. You would’ve been too nervous.
If I’d know I never would’ve shown up.
He sighs. Mistakes were made, he says. We’re both older now.
Alright, I say irritably. I hope your judgment’s better now. Let’s just forget it.
How’s your old lady, Harry?
Same as always. Why?
That brainy little girl in Physics class?
I heard she was sick.
Not in the usual way. Migraines.
Arent those imaginary?
I say, Anyone who thinks that should have one for five minutes. Ever eat ice cream too fast? It’s agony for thirty seconds but a headache goes on for two or three days like that. Like an icepick sticking your eye. She has to be able to take care of the kids and she cant if she’s sick. She has to have these expensive pills.
No, Tim. Pain medicine doesn’t help. It’s thirty dollars a pill and she needs two to stop a headache. It’s some kinda medicine that shrinks blood vessels in the brain. Only thing that works. Before she got ’em she’d be in bed for three days and I’d have to do everything.
Maybe she needs one of them head doctors, Hurd suggests.
Don’t say anything else about it, Mr. Hurd, I say icily and he shuts up.
Brawny, thick and thuggish and aquiline, Hurd’s relationship with this car is like a scify man-machine interface. Outside Toledo I take the wheel and he looks reproachfully at me.
Step on it, he says.
I comply and tell him I’m not used to a car like this. He thinks I drive like an old lady because I wont pass trucks on the hills or on a double yellow line. I don’t last long before he takes the wheel from me. We’re not even close to Cleveland. It’s early April and getting dark as we approach Lackawanna. After we are out of that town we have to stop for gas and Hurd gives me a big bill to buy some hamburgers next door. I go in the bathroom and when I look outside the window and I see a State Trooper by the gas pump looking at the car. Hurd is nowhere to be seen.
I go thru a door marked employees only and look into the kitchen where a boy is washing dishes. I slip behind him without being seen and quietly open the door and step outside into the lot. I see Hurd running, really hauling ass toward the trees and bracken where the fields begin…