Make and Model
Nicholas John-Francis Claro
Years ago when my father was still alive, I watched him put a cigar out on a kid’s cheek. I say “kid” but he was probably closer to twenty than ten or twelve. So that made him adult enough. “He was acting like a dumbass kid,” my father told me. That was his reasoning for doing what he did. Acting like a dumbass meant acting recklessly.
My brother and I had been playing at the mouth of our driveway, with the large, styrofoam airplane I’d just sent soaring into the yard nearby. This was back when we lived at the end of a cul-de-sac on a quiet street in a small town on Long Island.
It was the kind of place where you knew who drove what. My father said he’d
never seen the truck before, or the person--the kid--in it. (And never did again.) The make/model were indiscernible due to crude modifications and a paint job that must have emptied twenty cans of green spray paint. It was lifted, too. And the kid was doing doughnuts, the tires spinning and screeching, kicking up white, chemical smoke. Because of the modification, the truck being at least 8 inches higher than stock, my father thought the chances of him rolling it over my brother and me was pretty high.
“Keep your brother close,” my father said.
“What are you going to do?”
He took the cigar out of his mouth. “Hopefully nothing.”
He waved his arms back and forth over his head, making a Y then an X and a Y
again with them. I thought the kid wouldn’t do anything. But he did. He stopped. The
truck idled, glugging for a moment before he pulled up to the driveway.
Without looking, my father pointed in our direction. “My kids are playing here,”
The windows to the truck were rolled down. I didn’t hear what the kid said to my
father. Only after, he started revving the engine higher and higher. This startled my brother, who was three. He started to cry. Before I knew it, my father was at the window. The kid had tried to roll his window up, but my father was too quick, and he wedged his forearm between it and the top of the door so it wouldn’t budge. With his free hand, he reached in and jammed the cigar against the kids face. My father got his arms free seconds before the kid tore off.
“What?” my father said to me.
He was breathing hard. His hand was red and ashy.
I was scared. I didn’t say anything. I looked away, over at the airplane in the yard.
A wing had popped off.
“Come on,” he said, and picked up my brother.
My brother was still hysterical.
When they got to the front door, he looked back. I hadn’t moved.
“Are you coming?” It’s the only other time in my life I remember my father going somewhere I wasn’t ready to follow.
About the Author: Nicholas John-Francis Claro is writer living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His work has appeared in The Idle Class, Existere: A Journal of Arts & Literature, Pithead Chapel, and others.