imagine no picture.
imagine hot and humid, blue sky, white clouds.
that was how it started.
summer, day 4.
imagine that the ever-wonderful michael is just that, and that a drive is involved. a short one to another county. he'll ask if you want to go with him - he has to help out a friend, pick up a truck for that friend, who lives elsewhere and bought it on an online auction - and you'll say sure, how else you gonna get it back here? and he'll tell you it probably won't start and if it starts, it probably won't go, that he just really needs to see, that he'll probably head back tomorrow with a trailer, but hey, worth a try, si? and off you will go. you will go slowly through the town where you once received a speeding ticket, even though you're not the one driving, and in fact you'll do that through all four of the little towns you must pass through before you get to your destination. you'll pass the sign pointing to opelika both going and coming.
when you get there, you'll call kandi, who will tell you the truck is at the jail, which makes you laugh, but off to the jail you'll go, the jail where your uncle was once sheriff, although first the ever-wonderful will stop to buy two cans of fix-a-flat (he obviously knows more about the truck than you do) and a gasoline siphon hose. he already has a new battery in the bed of his truck, and five gallons of gas. (he obviously knows much more about the truck than you do.)
at the jail, another woman will take you to the incarcerated vehicles, faded from the texas sun, hot. sad. trucks, jacked up vehicles, jet skis. two boats. the truck you've come for looks better than all the rest, and it has been there since 2011. the woman will say no way can you get this going, and she's gotta see this, and you too, but you have faith. the ever-wonderful can fix vehicles - he's got his daddy's genes - and besides, he says, this is just easy basic stuff. he will set up the gasoline i.v. drip (which will stop dripping at about two gallons), and then off comes the bad battery, the one with corrosion and cheap connector things, whatever they're called, and he'll settle in the new battery, turn on the key, and suddenly there will be warning bells and the dome light will come on, and you will all start to smile. 2 flat flat back tires mean the truck will have to be jacked up before adding fix-a-flat, but no problem - he knows this stuff. what the woman and you know is that there are two wasps's nests inside the passenger side door, with wasps, but no problem there either. he will have wasp killing stuff. sorry wasps, but adios.
and then he will start the truck, the truck with a homemade added toggle switch on the dashboard, and it will vrooom into life with a roar. paperwork signed, he will climb behind the wheel and you will climb behind the wheel of his truck. he'll get directions to the county annex to get a texas temporary one trip permit and you will try to figure out how to lock and unlock his truck - the key is confusing. then off to a gas station, first one we see, he'll tell you. the truck needs more gas and the tires need air. it will sound so easy when he says it.
it is hot. it is more humid. the first station has no air. you will follow him through the station, no point in stopping, and down the road to the next station, which will look fine, but looks are deceiving, and y'all will discover that not only are most of the pumps not working (the line of vehicles waiting means a third station is hopefully the charm), the air hose is missing its nozzle. the ever-wonderful will discover this only after he's deposited four quarters and you'll discover this only when you hear him begin to cuss. he's tired and it's hot, and he needs tape for the temporary permit because it won't stay put.
third gas station. at last. gasoline. while he gasses up, you'll park near the air hose and check to make sure all is intact, then head inside to buy you each a coke. when you get back outside, you'll see someone has parked in such a way as to block the air. your cell phone will keep ringing - a friend of your brother's, asking you to call when you get a chance. you'll be unable to find quarters, the ringing phone and rising humidity beginning to make you crazy, and you'll have to go back into the store to break a dollar bill, and then you'll just wave poor michael, ever-wonderful still, into the handicapped spot next to you, and between the two of you you will get those back tires aired all the way up. and you will head home.
when you pull onto the highway, there are storm clouds ahead. in the distance, but you can see they are waiting for you. michael will see those also, and he'll decide to try the windshield wipers, just in case. and the rubber will just fly right on off - after all, the truck had been sitting in the texas weather since the summer of no rain. when he pulls into an auto parts store, you pray it has a public bathroom. you need to pee. they do.
windshield wipers attached, y'all will head back off. you are now over three hours into what should have been a two hour trip, and suddenly you are in the storm. the storm. the ever-wonderful is long gone in front of you, and you are trying to figure out how to turn on his truck's headlights. you can see nothing but rain and headlights, and you are sure no one can see you, so you pull off the road and call the ever-wonderful. the switch is on the dashboard, he says, turn it clockwise. at that moment you will begin to hate his truck. the switch must be turned until it stops and that means past all the symbols, and you'll get out in the downpour to see if you have lights, but you won't, and you'll drive almost blind until you find a building that you can shine the lights at, at last figuring out the mysterious switch. the rain is pouring, but back onto the highway you go, this time not seeing the baby goats you saw on the way up. your shoulders will grow tense, and your neck will begin to hurt, and you'll swear to yourself you will break up with you-know-who if he ever again buys a truck like this. you'll wish you'd driven your jeep.
when you reach town, water will be everywhere, gushing down the sides of roads, under bridges, and you will begin to worry about your house, begin to wonder if it has flooded. the ever-wonderful calls and asks if you can stop somewhere and get a couple of burgers. it's after four and he's hungry, and he's already back to the business. you say yes, though in truth you really just want to get out of the rain, and it will take forever, and the burgers will be mediocre at best, and you will be even more achy. and, yes, when you get home, you'll find you were right to worry about your house. the kitchen will be flooded, the bathroom, and the back closet - the one the builder never finished, the one with no ceiling. you will remember that just last weekend you said you were going to toss out everything that was in that closet, and so you begin. you know it will take you days, but it is a sign. and you take signs seriously.
this morning the trash can is full of ruined art paper and purses and old vacuum cleaners.
sorry stuff, but adios.
the sky looks like rain.