by DJ Huk
Work in progress: a novel: The Man Left Holding His Secret Attache Case
|cars for the working man, that’s why he invented them for their auto-bonn. Yeah, that’s what I read, he drew up the plans by himself, ’cause he used to be an artist … or he told someone he wanted a car for the working man, and the Germans put it together for them, like they put together their tanks. They called them Beatles. Yeah, those VW Beatles. Man, they can make a car, those Germans. Then they wanted something even better, ’cause the German workingman’s family kept getting bigger and they needed them more
, and those VW Beatles, they didn’t have that much space in them for what the workingman needs. So they decided to make something that had sort of the same gas mileage that could carry the woman and all the children. They called it the VW
Beatle Bug Bus. In that awkward yet spirited way that children must join together to finish adult housework tasks – together, sweeping these carpets by pairing off to push around the vacuum cleaner, filling the bucket of soap and water and ammonia to wash down windows, hauling out the garbage that we had collected as we all hold on to our end of these trash bags – we apply ourselves fixedly to the chores you tell us you are supervising, so that now you are in the driver’s seat, waiting on us in your contoured-seat perch behind the windshield shaped out like a bay window, in your careless outfit that has you looking like a shabby clown who sleeps in his clothes, with the plaid sports cap that you keep on both indoors and outdoors all the time, the T-shirt that is always white with the front breast pocket, the powder-blue painter’s pants, and that white-sweat socks in open-toed sandals look of yours. You are saying, “okay, youse kids were punctual, you did all those chores, so I’m taking youse kids to
in the VW Beatle Bug Bus.” With that, we start piling into the mini-bus, jumping across the wide berth of seats and back open spaces as we fidget with our laughing because you keep on calling us “youse kids”: why are we this “youse” to you? instead of how your twin and our mother will call us “you kids”? And there you go again, saying it, clowning around with us again: “youse kids didn’t forget your coupons, did you? Because we’re not paying no full price for all those rides you’ll want to be taking.” So we show you the shopping bag full of the waxy chunks of coupons that we collect from off the sides of the half-pint cartons of whole milk that we take at school with our lunches, and from the half-gallon cartons of chocolate milk that we empty out into our glasses after school, to drink down in front of the television set at home. With that, with both of your hands set on the steering wheel that, in your VW Beatle Bug Bus, is positioned nearly straight up (unlike the slant of its angle from off the dashboard behind which your twin sits next to mother in the Ford Pinto family station wagon during our Sunday trips out of Gacy and into the country, when we are riding together in the wide backseat that your twin puts down sometimes so we can lay flat), you announce, “all right, I’m starting up that air-cooled engine we have us back there, so get ready and don’t act ornery, youse kids” (and we shout out our laughter now, at you calling us youse kids again). We pull shut the side panel door of the mini-bus that is like a cargo hatch on the monster troop-carrying airplanes in the daily war footage we see on the television set, and you turn the ignition key and start that air-cooled engine in back that you like to brag on to ppppuuuuuttttttering (not how the Ford Pinto family station wagon will wheeze as the engine kicks in with a muffled shaking under the hood … the engine that is in the front), and you tell us, “youse kids have to be conscientious now and make sure there aren’t no cars coming,” so we scramble down to the mini-bus rear window, all of us, eager to help with your driving, and we answer to you, “it’s all clear, we don’t see no cars coming.” You maneuver around the cream-coloured ball-knob on the gear shift stick and we back out of the driveway, ppppuuuuuttttttering onto the short street as narrow as an alleyway in front of the little house we live in, to head up toward the crest of the steep hill, going up past the sandhill we like to call our own, with its foliage of oak and maple woods at the cater-corner of the little house we live in, where we so enjoy
running up that sandhill
running and hiding into the cover
but cannot run hard enough now,
and now up past the modern statuesque Lake houses and older weathered cottages set on high across the surrounding ridge lines of sand hills and dunes, with tufts of slender-necked, sword-leafed beach grasses matting their slopes. At the top of the hill, we catch sight all of a sudden of one of those big city buses that rumble along the lakefront after picking up people at its stop … which sets us to thinking of ourselves as special passengers in this VW Beatle Bug Bus in which, instead of us having to sit so stiff and dimly polite like we do in the public bus, or hunched beneath the low roof and cramped into the flatbed space of the Ford Pinto family station wagon on Sundays, we can have the full run of the traveling space in here, saliently going from windows to windows that have their own shape to the ones that we see in the big city bus, as your VW Beatle Bug Bus follows Dunelake Drive into the surroundings of the lakeside park, with its terrains of hillocks covered in gatherings of oak-maple woods left to grow wild to the south, ranging along the background of landscaped meadowlands and glens of groomed lawns that have been parched tan and brown in spots throughout these estival hours of hot and steady sun, but now set off in contrast to the lightly fading yellow-white glow of the northern skyline over the stretch of beach shore and the sand dunes around the lake that we see through these windows and up into the patch of the open sun roof that we would, of course, never have for our own on a big city bus; and as the mini-bus rolls deeper into the park toward where mother likes to take us fishing with those bamboo polls that are even taller than we are and the metal boxes full of red-and-white bobbers and tangles of hooks and line in plastic, snap-top canisters, and the glass jars that we had scraped clean for our bologna and American cheese sandwiches and that mother had then washed out for storing the rice, the noodles, sugar and salt, or that she would give to us for the worms that we had hunted up in our yard early in the morning when they come to earth into the dew on the grass for us to bait the hooks that we lower into the waters to wait for the tug of a mysterious pull from down in the water that would bring up the flapping shiny-round sunfish, just so we can let them go sliding out of our hands off the side of the ornate arc of the artificial red Japanese bridge and faintly splash into the still waters of the lagoon that we are seeing at the turn of the drive, as the mini-bus goes past veering into the entranceway of that stately curve of road and driving up through its maple-oak setting as we have sometimes done on these rides, if we had wanted to stop for a picnic snack or for what you call “sodas” instead of pop when you say “I’ll buy the drinks for youse kids ’cause youse kids did your chores, I’ll get the sodas for youse kids” on the terrace of the stolidly columned, paneled marble civic hall that overlooks the widespread channel of water and the shaded islet of silty land that are bounded by the steep, banked slopes of sand dunes, all between our sun-fishing lagoon and the omnipresence of the summer Lake; like center stage for a play of dreams, the site of the building tends to play out in a memory for us of how you take a certain charge out of gathering together these sodas of yours up there like you are doing at the drink table in the wedding photograph that mother and your twin show us from the family album, so that we go to the window on that side, on the lookout for any fully white lace gowns and streaming flower pastel patterns and neatly figured, black-and-white suited personages in ceremony in the environs of the civic hall, as the mini-bus heads into a V in Dunelake Drive here that marks one way into the park and one way out, and now into the tip of this V that is filled by a little plaza on the edge of these woods that is devoted to the statue of Father Jacques, the Dunes pioneer priest who everyone in Gacy calls Father Jack, in his long roughhewn cassock, who seems pulled to step out of the Indian bark canoe by the thrust of the handheld crucifix on the rise up from his right arm like he is forever waving goodbye with his blessing that we see as teasing us to scurry to the rear window of your VW Beatle Bug Bus and we wave goodbye back to Father Jack as we used to do on those Sunday family trips when we were small kids (we figure that if we are still “youse kids” to you, then we can go ahead and act like a bunch of big kids happy to be thinking about nothing more than going for summer rides), as we are leaving the statue behind us on our way past these neighborhoods of streets and blocks of trimly-kept houses arranged in verdurous settlements along the lines of the Lakeside park, though the grassplots of lawn and hedge with their oscillating spray of sprinkler water have the depth of field here over the faintly diminished parcels of woodland trees and brush; and out toward the campus where, you never fail to tell us in passing, you (meaning, the twins, of course) played your high school ball (in the small gymnasium of those years of the deep wood polished floorboards that seemed to shine just for your clean-out-of the-shoebox red canvas sneakers [“…’cause they never wanted to buy us no new shoes, so if you played ball, you’d get you a pair of shoes like those brand-new Keds® shoes with all those colours on them that youse kids are always wearing ’cause your parents treat youse kids good …”] would have a place to squeak down thin as you follow the promise of the bouncing ball to the tune of the coaching metal whistles; and on the diamond they might as well have owned as the jewel of their trophy shelf, all the fans and the sportswriters say, giving them a certain rightness of placement in the timeless game on the acres of turf and dirt out back behind the gymnasium where they drive the long ball in an arching sweep over the outfield, and make timely contact with runners on base, [“… when I was a young man, when I had the good eye, youse kids would have been seeing me hitting for the cycle two, three days in a row …”] responding to their calls of encouragement to each other of “hey, pretty boy, pretty boy swing, swing pretty boy, pretty boy, swing”; and their hitting too all over that plain of frost-crusted turf, with the first cold snap of a late fall night on the edge of winter bringing out the sounds of the crack of helmet on bodypads [“… they’d get that look to them like they just smacked down by some bus or something and you’d be feeling like you was doing the driving, geeezzzz, they’d go down, I’m telling youse kids, like a sack of potatoes …”] and the voices in the bunches of scrambles, grabbing for the ball and for the yards of ground drawn out for them in lines of chalk-white paint across the reaches of the turf, from endzone to endzone, all under the banks of stadium lights set on high atop iron poles like framed grids of glass eyes), and we playact like we are being inpatient and thankless toward you, saying “oh, don’t tell us that one again, we’ve heard that one before …” because, as we are moving out on the open ride with the ppppuuuuutttttter of that special air-cooled engine back there in the mini-bus picking up into a whir of a hum, rolling along just above the normal flow of traffic as the still-tumid air of the passing day is gusting in through the sun roof where we can see streaks of clouds fraying in orange-yellow colours – and you say, “hey, youse kids look out the window real quick. Look out there, it’s the giant hot dog,” and we run to the other side of the mini-bus, and … hey, it is the giant mobile hot dog that we keep seeing in televisional commercials – yeah, there it is, right next to us, and you’re saying: “Look at that rolling hot dog. That’s a big hot dog. How’d youse kids like to eat a hot dog that big?” as we are waving at the red tube cab with a sausage bend to it, on a mustard-yellow platform like half of a hot dog bun with panoptic windows on the nose end rolling on tyres; and singing the insouciant jingle that is the soundtrack to the commercial, about how we wished we were the hot dog itself, and that gets us thinking of our mini-us looking like one of those spongy-yellow, ingot-shaped cream puff cakes wrapped in cellophane packets that mother puts into our school lunch boxes every Friday that taste so good with the half-pint of milk, and that we would break into morsels as our holy bread whenever we played at church (in our toy communion, the shell of lightsome cake and the sugar of its white stuffing dissolved more sweetly to the taste on the roof of our mouths than the real papery wafer we have to try to swallow on Sundays); but now, inspired by the giant mobile hot dog jingle, we really want to hear the highway song, and so we start to demanding: “Where’s that Wild Brother Goose? We want to hear about the Wild Brother Goose.” “Youse kids are being too precocious back there,” you tell us, but we won’t quit demanding for your rendition of the Wild Brother Goose song: “Come on, where’s the Wild Brother Goose?” over and over again. “What are youse kids talking about now?” you ask … but you know what we want to hear, because now you go into that jokey baritone you like to affect for us as you start singing:
I must go where that wild goose goes.
Wild goose, brother goose, which is best?
A wanderin’ fool or a heart at rest?
And we’re laughing and laughing like we’ve lost our breath and we’ll never find it again – where did you get that Wild Brother Goose song from? what’s a Wild Goose, Brother Goose? and which one is best anyway? But you never sing us anything more than those same words over and over again, like you’re on a stuck record:
I must go
Where that wild goose goes
Which is best?
A wanderin’ fool or a heart at rest?
singing us off this highway and across this overpass onto this two-lane road that has us going past another lawn-trim residential district before we find ourselves passing this commercial strip of automobile parts stores and furniture showroom spaces and drive-in food restaurants to where we are now, into this shopping mall zone circling this heavily trafficked intersection, and so close to
itself, that we had better start bringing out our shopping bag full of the waxy chunks of coupons because we know you are about to remind us again to “get those coupons ready, so youse kids won’t be paying no full price that they’re gonna be wanting youse kids to be paying for those rides” as you pull the mini-bus in beneath a row of these broadly cast high columns of area light fixtures seen all around this district that are coming up at this hour to emerge with the drift of the day to foreshadow the near nightfall, casting a white gleam to the offbeat magical air around what will always be a mystery to us, of how
came to be on the grounds of this underdeveloped property of sabulous dirt and outgrowths of weedy trees between commercial strip zones next to where we are parking the mini-bus on this expanse of parking lot with the bulk of the cars and the trucks grouped tightly together and nearer to the doors of the glorified warehouse of a shopping mall, at a far distance from
that appears to us in this ramshackle imitation of that aureate magic kingdom that beams into our living room in animated, televisional colours every Sunday, only, scaled down to size just for us youse kids, with its castellated walls, embankments and turrets, and the spired mock watchtower at the center of the park that stands only to hold up the
sign of running lights pockmarked with dead bulbs. We join in the chant of the “Ole-EEE-Ole,” “Ole-EEE-Ole” oath as we run over to the ticket booth that looks like the huts of those bushy-hatted, coarsely mustachioed, chanting sentries who patrol the drawbridge of the castle of the cruel, wrinkled witch in that wizard movie we see over the holidays, and we exchange our bag of priceless coupons for these rolls of tickets that we wrap around our arms like streamers of ribbons, at the ready for when you will announce to us “all right, now, which rides are youse kids going on first?” We always go about choosing a different ride first – as tonight we will first go on the mini-motorized locomotive train puffing out its wispy false rings from its fake smokestack as it click-clack-click-clack-clack-clicks around the edges of the park, pulling along the mini-coal car, mini-boxcars, and mini-caboose that carry kid-sized passenger benches inside for us; and now to the mini-Ferris wheel revolving us through the evening sky in our hinged seats that tilt and swing back and forth as we ascend within this flashing framework of red/white/blue strobe light rods; and over to the mini-roller coaster that is twisting and curving all around this looping tangle of narrow gauge rails like a rattling tire chain; and now to ride this mini-merry-go-round on these caricatures of a menagerie of circus animals with their bulbous, lidless eyes and grinning, toothsome mouths distorted out even more by the chipped body paint of faded, dappled skin colours; and now into the mini-bumper cars where we’re encouraged to enjoy jamming and banging against each other instead of being scolded over roughhousing – because we always decide to end our visit to
on the mini-horses. Around and around they go, yoked to metal spars extending out from an axial steel pole, each
pony is dead,” one of the Jeffster’s favorite phrases, like when we’re smoking a bowl and watching the Cubs blow an easy lead … well, he’s a diehard White Sox fan, so he always says that about the Cubbies anyway. He must have picked it up, I’m thinking as he hands off the pipe and bowl to me, when he was a kid, at Christmas, and like all kids at Christmas, he gets it into his head that he wants a pony for Christmas, right? And how many times does that pony show up under the tree? So “the pony is dead” must say it all for the Jeffster. But, knowing the Jeffster like I do, maybe it isn’t about Christmas. There are those kegs they call pony kegs, those mini-kegs instead of your typical giant party keg? Maybe the Jeffster started saying it after he helped empty a pony keg or two or three at some party: yeah, you’d say, “the pony is dead.” Or else, remember, back in the day, they’d sell you those little bottles of beer that’d fit right in the palm of your hand? They called those ponies, too. I can just see the Jeffster killing a few of those ponies off, while he’s saying, “this pony is dead” and “that pony is dead.”
Because that’s what I’m thinking now, as you, Mr. Businessman, have me reading all your paperwork here, all these ads about yourself, I suppose you could call them. “This pony is dead,” and “that pony is dead” and “another pony, dead.” It’s a regular slaughter of
ponies forever reigned in by their controlled rounds, carrying loads of kids of all types, sizes, and temperaments through the hours of the summer. While the other rides become animated for us, the mini-horse ride truly lives: with their dusky and thickset skin that we like to pat now that their keeper has drawn them before us to a standstill, in the fitful snorts and brays through the bones of their jaws and teeth as they their keeper saddles us up, in how they wag their heads and twitch their ears now that are saddled up on them. Still, for whatever reason, we can’t help but wonder about what is going on behind their eyes, because, as the keeper takes the lead mini-horse by the reins and calls all of them out by their names of “Trigger,” “Silver,” “Mr. Ed” (named for those televisional animals we like to watch), and as the mini-horses start to walk their path and as we are swaying along on the top of them to the rhythm of their plodding animal gait, we only ever get to see a glimpse of their eyes from behind their blinders as their hooves dig the circular rut of dirt and straw deeper down under foot into the turf, as you, standing off to the sidelines, chew incessantly on your gum as you are watching us, with your eyes blinking and darting away then and now, now and then, to your VW Beatle Bug Bus. And while we are still having our fun, our feelings stay on the mini-horses themselves; it is sort of sad that they must remain tied down to Kidsland after we finish our ride on them and we are done for the night here – seeing that we have unraveled our ribbons of tickets, and our coupons are long gone. So as we are walking back to the mini-bus, we like to picture ourselves unhitching Trigger and Silver and Mr. Ed to climb back on them, to continue on with the mini-horse ride away from Kidsland, right up the road to the Snowee Crème stand less than a mile from here; but we are imagining this as we are also knowing that we must leave the mini-horses to their yoke of a circle if we are going to end our evening with a taste of the swirls of ridges on the Snowee Crème cones, as all of us pile back into the VW Beatle Bug Bus and look up for you to crank open what becomes to us at this hour a night roof with a sweeping range of stars fitting into the frame, for the last part of our ride this evening that drives away from the shopping malls and their parking lots and heads us farther down this main road where we are seeing, mounted on high, showing against the drifting of the horizon from estival daylight into eventide, the first clear sign of the Root Beer Hut, that is, this great sculpture of an idealized root beer mug, revolving smoothly in the air with its vitreous likeness of a blackish-brown liquid foaming up over the top of the mug to slide down the sides of its frost-tinged glass that is cast in substance to us in hard-moulded fiberglass, fluoresced up into the fading skyline by the white glowing that brims from all around the Root Beer Hut below it – this sharp-cornered white aluminum-paneled box of a hut and its outstretched white awning held up by a line of concrete poles that goes out over to where we are taking the VW Beatle Bug Bus, into the parking space that has next to the driver’s side window a menu board on the top of an iron rod with a metallic red push button box beneath the board that from your open window you reach out your hand for, to press your thumb down firmly into it to buzz for the girl who takes our order; and there she is now, swinging the front screen door of the Root Beer Hut open and stepping out to us, in that lean-quick walk of hers in the body of her canvas brown apron tied to the front of her yellow walking shorts and her cream-white, brown-pinstriped shirt and the baseball cap of a tan cloth she wears with her blonde ponytail drawn through the slit between the back rim of the cap and its adjustable strap, that jounces along in flits to the spring in her step as her smile is charming us, walks over to the driver’s side window of the VW Beatle Bug Bus, says hello to everyone, and asks us what we would like; and here you are now, bringing out the full face of your smiling grin, your tortoise-shell framed sunglasses, the bill of your checked-striped sports cap that you are always wearing, to the girl and asking her to point to the nametag on her shirt so that you can go on to say to her “is that your name there? Jenny? That’s a nice name, Jenny, that’s short for Jennifer, isn’t it?”, and she laughs as brightly as her smile and she answers in a mock-confidential whisper “yeah, I guess that’s supposed to be my name but don’t tell anyone else, because Jenny is really my real name”: and we see that you are really doing up your smiling grin now, as you turn to us to say “all right, youse kids, don’t tell on her, or else youse kids won’t be getting none of those root beers or Hut Dawgs that Jenny is going to be bringing youse kids,” and we all shout out in hilarity our promise together: “no, no, we’re not going to tell on her”; and so you tell her “see, these are good kids, because they do all their chores at home and they can keep a secret too, so we can go ahead and order from you now. What do youse kids want?”, asking even though we always order the same order at the Root Beer Hut, you know, two of the large papa size, a medium mama size, the small baby size (and, as she always does, the one sister who takes the baby size starts in to complaining about how “I’m not a baby size anymore”, and, as always, your answer to her is “now stop your misbehaving back there, if you don’t finish the baby size, we’ll get you another one, because we’re not going to be wasting any root beer if you won’t be drinking it all down”) … and, of course, our oldest sister always has to have her own special concoction that you always have to call a “Black Cow,” which sends us into making our moooooooooooooing sound as the carhops look baffled, as Jennifer (no … remember … she’s Jenny) does now, so that you have to explain to her about the scoop of vanilla ice cream lumped into the dark of the root beer that goes liquid-soft to dissolve in twisting strands of its own froth that appear like smears of white fingerpaint on a blackboard in its melding with the brew; and Jenny replies “you’re talking about a root beer float,” and you say, “yeah, Jenny, we want one of those Black Cows you got … and we’re also going to be wanting those Hut Dawgs of yours for everyone too,” all of which she scribbles into her notepad right down with her pen, tucks the order into a pocket on her apron, and says with her smile that is, to us, like a mite of a passing thought of what the sun brought to our day out, “all right, everyone, I’ll be back with your order before you can say ‘Black Cow’,” which cues us into doing our laughing moooooooing sound again as she walks with a double-quick step back away from the VW Beatle Bug Bus and toward the Root Beer Hut, where she is staying unseen for the moment as we start jittering around, pretending to show a clownish anticipation for our root beers and Hut Dawgs here in the back seat section of your VW Beatle Bug Bus, just so we can tease you into turning around to us and coming up with one of your quirks of a remark, as you are doing now, declaring “settle down back there youse kids … you’d better start appreciating what you’re about to receive … ‘how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child’ ”: and we laugh at you coming up with another one – just like the Wild Goose song – that seems to have its own kind of a ridiculous meaning to it, like the punch line to a mystery of a joke … but why are we even trying to figure that out now? when we are seeing our girl Jenny carrying herself and a thick leaden tray out of the screen door of the Root Beer Hut, busily swaying from the heft of the frame painted in a dulled yellow that has chipped scars because of its heavy use all around it and two big metal brackets bolted to the underside that are tipped on both hooked ends with red rubber caps that Jenny is using now to attach this mass of a tray onto the ledge of the rolled-down window next to your place in the VW Beatle Bug Bus, and to angle the tray with the red rubber-capped tips of the two bottom brackets so that they lean exactly against the side panel of the driver’s side door, so that we are now looking up at our papa and mama and baby sizes of root beer mugs grouped in their foam together on the red mesh plastic mat that covers the flat of the table of the tray – in our eyes, fulfilling then the wholesome prescience exhibited in the sign of the great mug still turning, turning on the roof of the Root Beer Hut above us – and, next to those effervescing root beer mugs, at the individually wrapped Hut Dawgs in a little silver stack that you start to take down as you say you are “doling out those Hut Dawgs to youse kids” (no, not just “give you your Hut Dawgs” like our parents say, no, not you); and we feel the softness of the warmth through the bumps and creases of the aluminum foil wrapper on our palm just for the moment as we are now having to put them aside, as we are noticing you reaching your right hand out to the tray to fit the crook in the knuckles of your fingers tightly into the narrow curve to the handle of the baby size root beer mug, tilting it off the tray with a nervously exaggerated caution, a touch of a quiver in your hand, all the while saying “don’t go spilling that root beer all over yourself and inside the Volkswagen bus in here,” as you bring it over to the youngest of us in the passenger seat, who accepts it as if she were handling a delicate cup of warm tea, not one of the notched and beveled mugs of hard-cut glasswork that hold such a feeling of inmost heft to them that our wrists give slightly in taking ours next from you, and we have to steady the mug by setting its glass chunk of a bottom weight on the heel of our palm as we start sipping first into the spongy soft bubbled cap of froth that tops the dark of the drink in such a way that we are blithely leaving these drippings of a marking over our upper lip so that they look like a phony foam mustache: see, even you are wearing it, which sets us off into laughing and teasing you about how you should try patting the root
all over your head, because it looks like you’ve finally found the way to grow your hair roots back; and you answer “youse kids stop making fun of me or else the next time I’m going to drive youse kids to the funny farm and drop youse kids off there” – and that remark of yours brings to our mind that “funny farm song” we keep hearing on the radio, though we can only pick up bits of the lyrics that we are chattering out in our laughter: “the funny farm, the funny farm, they’re coming to take me away, where basket weavers weave all day, the funny farm, where life is gay … ” to which you tell us “youse kids must be the goofiest kids around,” as we are happily unwrapping the Hut Dawgs now, biting into them, munching to relish the crunch and nip of finely minced white onions and the sharp-hot spray in our mouths as small, slenderly bowed green peppers pop open in a burst and the bittersweet aftertaste from off the crescents of slivered tomatoes and the tang of the yellow mustard dabbed across the meat that crosses over our tongues as the tips of our teeth are breaking into the pinkish-red casing of the Hut Dawg itself that gives up its juices like a thinned, earthy soup that, together with the toasted-soft chew of the bun, we wash down nectarously with gulping swigs of the body and foam of the root beer from out of the heavy-set mugs (except for our oldest sister, who bites into her Hut Dawg, swallows, and dips a long-stemmed, white-plastic spoon into the murky sweet quick of her Black Cow drink to ladle out a portion of the vanilla ice cream already fluidly diluted by the root beer into stringy glop that slides down the bowl of the spoon she is sliding into her mouth); and now, placing our mugs carefully down on the floor of the VW Beatle Bug Bus right below our seats, we get to ask you for the red-plastic squeeze bottle with the word “ketchup” (or, is it “catsup”?) marked on its side in yellow letters that is positioned down into the rung of a metal holder at one end of the tray next to what would be its exact double if it were not in yellow with the word “mustard” printed on the side in letters that are of the same shade of red as the “ketchup” (no, it’s not “catsup”) plastic squeeze bottle you are now passing around to each of us, who imitate you in how you are flexing and twisting your wrist hard and fast and back and forth to shake the bottle in your right hand and suddenly stop to turn it upside down and aim its pinpointed nozzle over the top of the crisply french fried potatoes clumped up together in their shallow cardboard basket on our lap and squish the bottle in our grip, to press out the pasty red tomato garnish across these slabs of still-hot, salted potatoes, picking them out one by one to munch between bites of our Hut Dawgs and buns, taking big sips from the mugs of our root beers, and biting once more into the Hut Dawgs, picking out some more french fries to munch, sipping the root beer, biting into the Hut Dawgs: munching the fries, chewing the Hut Dawgs and fries together, and washing it all down through the rich foaming of the lush brew; and, as one of the cartoon characters on the kids’ programs we watch on television is always saying, “hot diggity dawg” are we savoring each taste of the celebratory succulence that serves as our final reward this day for every one of us doing our chores at home – not like the way you bury your Hut Dawg in your mouth in two gargantuan bites and now wads of fries into the rolling bulge of your cheeks and now swigging down your entire papa size mug of root
working man’s car that doesn’t work. Sure, it might have been the king (well, all right, the Führer) of the road in your time, but not now … sitting out there pathetically as it is being stupidly covered by snow, sporting that personal custom touch of a dent in the fender where I kicked it in when the damned oil-burning crate of garbage died on me in the middle of a see-the-bars-of-America road trip. And with an electrical system that couldn’t keep a flashlight burning for a month: I should just leave it for junk on the parking lot, and hike back to Se Haute – then you could admire the rotten lemon
at the bottom of the driveway, but each one is still here (as immobile and as chipped and tarnished as that statuesque memorabilia on your shelf in your bedroom), your matching sedan coupe design trophies to how you “jewed down that Jew car dealer” for this, your “2 for 1 Mercedes-Benz bargain basement deals”: one auto in beige and brown and the other auto in a yellowed tan shade that pale in comparison to the black on silver and silver on black superficies of automotive Teutonic design that you have always admired – mostly because these autos of yours, judging from the pockmarks of corrosion that we can still see just below the running board, have the look of spray paint that was slapped on them to hide smears of rust underneath; nevertheless, to you, looking over your 2 for 1 Mercedes-Benz bargain basement deal that we have gathered around, talking out of the side of your mouth as you chew gum intently, you are trying to convince your twin and mother to leave them parked on this big gravel U of a driveway we have out here for a little while longer, look, we have all kinds of space out here in the country; these 2 for 1 Mercedes-Benz bargain basement deal of yours is bound to turn out to be a solid investment – the price of regular gas isn’t about to drop soon, because the Republicans have it all set up so that the cost of diesel will stay down for the truckers, the Teamsters, the working man, and that these 2 for 1 Mercedes-Benz bargain basement deal you “got from that Jew” are the only passenger vehicles on the road here that those Germans craftily designed to run on diesel these days – of course, even you have to admit that your 2 for 1 Mercedes-Benz bargain basement deal could use some work: once you get the beige and brown auto to start, it is coughing up some sort of a black spurt of a plume out of the tailpipe, and when you take us and your twin out for a drive in the yellowed tan auto down the country roads, it all of a sudden comes out with these labored quivers and grindings; but you have these ideas for the future, for when everyone else will be sacrificing their weekend family rides while we are beating the price hikes by fueling up the 2 for 1 Mercedes-Benz bargain basement deal with the working man’s diesel on the cheap. But today, of course, you will tow them off the property, after your twin and mother complain that they are not going to have their lawnscape with its hedges of lilac bushes flowering purple and the root vegetable garden, all surrounded by those woods that they have let grow wild all around like a sanctuary of ancient forest, looking like some car graveyard lawn that you see in front of the hillbilly shack properties across the Interstate highway around Deersview, especially now that one of those 2 for 1 Mercedes-Benz bargain basement deals of yours is dripping some kind of black goo down into the driveway to form tarry clots of gravel. So you are spending these two days pulling the 2 for 1 Mercedes-Benz bargain basement deal out of here with this rented tow truck that you drive yourself, because you “don’t want to pay no garage to do the work,” and you are leaving a rut of a scar in the lawn as you veer off the gravel U of the driveway, as you shout out incessantly to us and to yourself that it was meant for our
Fatherland anymore … but they sure put one over me with their “German engineering made in the USA” televisional pitch. Yeah right: all they’re doing these days is churning out false VWs on the cheap from some backwoods labor camp of a factory somewhere in