Was driving back home when Walden stops in the middle of the road at a red light. When it turns green the car is in park and I try to turn the engine on. I can’t be sure if it’s making a sputtering noise because of all the wooshing sound of cars passing, horns honking, radio still blaring, breathing growing, heart quickening.
But it springs to life and I am able to lead him to the side of the road behind orange caution cones. I’m surprised when I see that nobody stops to ask me if everything is okay. I guess we all have places to be.
I sit in the car and let myself cry for a bit, angrily chugging down Marlboro Lights when I finally decide to call somebody. But who?
The first person I think of is my brother Brian.
I call him up and he answers wassup?
I tell him the situation I’ve found myself in. Over the phone it sounds like he’s struggling to come up with a plan, then he tells me to check the oil. I have to get him to walk me through this and I am super low.
Well, I don’t have my car, he says. TitleMax came in the middle of the night and took it. He woke up to mom asking him where it was and in a dazed realization thought damn it, I knew I should have bought cigarettes last night.
But a friend is coming to chauffeur him around. I pay him to do it, he’d tell me. I’ll come be there soon, he says.
Two hours later he would arrive.
During this time I had to find things to entertain me. Being that the backseat of my car overflows with my belongings, I was able to read some books and scribble in my notebook. Mostly I scroll through my phone wishing the wooshing sounds of semitrucks passing would cease for just one moment.
I smoke a lot a cigarettes and a little bit of weed. At first I was angry and anxious, but now I’m just bored.
Walden’s sudden stopping literally stopped me. My entire day had paused. I was sitting contemplating all the various similarities between the demise of my vehicle and my doomed fate when Brian pulls up.
He doublechecks the oil and pours two quartz in. His friends drives off and now I have to drive him to his insurance provider and to the location of his car so he can get to work. Walden starts up with no problems and I feel a sudden hope in my chest.
I’m driving him through traffic when he gets a call from his insurance provider.
Listen, she’s going to leave here in 10 minutes, so you better hurry up. I’ve tried to make her wait as long as I can.
Brian leans back in his seat and casually tells her he’ll be there. I feel that I am more anxious he’ll be late than he is.
We arrive on time. While I was waiting I turn the car off. Brian’s inside getting a proof of insurance so he can get his car back. TitleMax repossessed it, but he’s somehow convinced this small loan business to buy it for him.
My mother can hardly believe that they would take the risk.
When Brian returns I go to turn the key and Walden’s insides sputter. My brother and I exchange a look of disappointment and he tells me pop the hood.
The needle was hot, I explain to him.
Well, fuck. Let’s just give it some time to cool off. He asks me for a cigarette and after lighting it looks across the road and spots a Mexican restaurant. Wanna get lunch?
I laugh and say yes, please. We can get a cup of water, too.
We run across the road and ask for a table for two. While eating tortilla chips Brian orders a 2 for 1 margarita special and I the happy hour Bud Lite. A few minutes later the waiter returns with our drinks, we order our food and request for another basket of chips.
Brian wonders whether or not my oil has leaked, but he’ll worry about that later. He gets a couple phone calls, one from the loan lady, another from his boss asking him how late he’d be. Mom calls me and tells me that all I need is some oil and water.
And a praying mama.
Sometimes I think that’s how Brian and I survive.
Oh, it is.
We return with a Styrofoam cup full of water and pour it into the bone-dry radiator tube. He walks over to a gyro shop close by, we should have gone there!, and comes back carrying two more cups.
We reenter the car. He cranks up.
I’m driving down I95 when Brian tells me to pull over. Now.
Turn off the car.
I do. He tells me that my car was overheating again. I hadn’t noticed.
Do you have any bottles of water?
I pull two half empty ones and a squished bottle of Mt. Dew.
Shit, that’s not enough.
Brian stands in front of Walden, cars wooshing by him, wshwshwsh, dozens of them at once speeding and replaced with more. I’m standing off to the side watching him wondering what the hell are we supposed to do right now?
My panic is rising again, but still, I feel like somehow, yes, somehow we’ll get out of this.
Brian shouts my name. He’s pointing down the slope into the woods. There’s a little creek.
He traverses down the hill, telling me to be careful, it’s steep. Brian braves the brambles and thorns, collects the dirty water and tosses full bottles to me, standing at the edge.
He pours and the tube overflows.
We reenter the car. He cranks up.
Thank Jesus there was a creek, Brian jokes. He looks at me and laughs. He knows I don’t believe in God, and sometimes he says he doesn’t either.
Days like these I can’t be sure.
We pull up at Autocash.
Brian enters as if he were late for a party, arms raised, hands moving with the speed of his lips. Grinning, he’s sweet talking them and they have no choice but to smile at him. One man drags out a giant box of his belongings inventoried by the staff.
Brian pulls up in his silver Audi with sunglasses on and he yells to me, come and help me put all this shit in here.
The man is laughing at Brian, and so am I, and so is he. The box is as tall as I am and we stuff every last bit of it into his back seat up to the ceiling.
Thanks sis, he says. And hugs me.
No, thank you, Bubba.