She came in barefoot and looking for Barefoot wine.
I was at the counter paying for my fifth of Knob Creek.
“I want this discount,” she said to the clerk. “The one that’s good on Tuesdays.”
“But ma’am today is not Tuesday.”
“Do I look like someone who don’t know what day it is?” she asked, hand on hip, daring anyone to say yes.
I shook my head no.
“I want the discount, anyway.”
And she got it.
We got in his old pick-up truck and he started the ignition. The vinyl seat was like ice beneath me, but he had lit something within me. Jack was rugged and charming, he had the swagger of an athlete from birth, and that voice, like the trucks engine, making me both nervous and excited.
He wasn’t driving away and I followed his gaze to a delivery truck on my right. It was open, unmanned, and full of beer. I raised my eyebrows daring him to say what was on his mind, but before words intruded he was out and running. I had never seen someone act so impulsively, simply crack the mold of good behavior like the thin bits of ice on the pavement beneath his boots. I had spent my high school career visualizing myself raising raucous disturbances, but was always brought out of them by a sympathetic teacher wondering if I needed a pass to the restroom or to the nurse. I never needed a pass, what I needed was a radical.
Jack’s face was bold and excited, almost terrified but completely cool as he hustled back to his truck with a twelve-pack of imports tucked under his arm. He stepped on the gas and I laughed. I inherited the laugh from my mother. As a child I’d watch it rip into the room and turn every head, scared certain that I could never live up to it. It just made Jack drive straight through the sunset pulling out all the stars.
“Hello?” I answered my cell phone. The call on the other end might as well have been from another planet far as far as I was from New York City.
“Where are you?”
“I heard you. Why?”
“Dad is burning a couch in the front yard,” I said. “Mom just got back from the liquor store, barefoot, where she demanded the discount for Barefoot wine that they offer on Tuesdays.”
“It’s Friday,” my brother said.
“Exactly. ‘And you know what I told him,'” I said doing my best imitation of my mother. “‘I said, do I look like a woman who don’t know what day it is?’ And then she broke up laughing and hacking and wheezing and lit a cigarette. But she got the fucking discount.”
“Course she did. What did the couch do to dad?”
“Who the hell knows. They graveled the driveway.”
“Bet it looks better than the mud.”
“It’s some kind of accomplishment.”
“When are you coming back?”