10.21.2013 Journal Prompt

Photo by William Gedney
Photo by William Gedney

October 21, 2013: He was a car guy.

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3 thoughts on “10.21.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. Lindsay

    He was a car guy, my daddy. When I think of him I smell grease and smoke and engines. He was never happier than when his head was under the hood of some neighborhood motor, his hands black as coalmining hands and his shirt off and his best trousers smeared with oil. And me in his arms when I was a babby and he was talking to himself about what was what in the engine and I thought he was talking to me, his voice all sing-song and soft, and that was my daddy.

    He lit out one dark and oil-sticky night. No note or nothing. Just a space in the bed next to mam when she woke – when we all woke. And she lust shrugged and said it was good riddance to bad rubbish. There were cracks and quivers in her words when she said them, so I wasn’t sure if she was telling truth. Mam said as how she always knew when I was telling a lie cos of the cracks and quivers in my voice.

    I was eight when my daddy left and there isn’t a day still when I don’t look along the road out of town hoping to see a guy stripped to the waist with oil on his hands. ‘Course I don’t know what I’d do if I did see him, or what I’d say. Some days I want to punch out his lights and tell him he’s just a fucking waste of space. Those were my mam’s cracked and quivering words for him and now they’re mine. Some days I’d want to hug him and hold his hand and tell Martin Shipley that my daddy’s back and he’s back to stay.

    Martin Shipley, a ten year old with fists as big and as hard as baseballs, and once he hit me so hard my nose bled and my right eye was shut for two days, and that was all on account of something he said about my daddy not being around. His daddy was a drunk and he never slept in the same bed two nights running and there were kids in out of the way places who all had his daddy’s nose and the same shock of black hair. But at least Martin’s daddy was around.

    I’m not like my daddy. My mam’s always saying that in case ever I see myself in the pictures of him that I look at. She says I’m better than he is and that’s why she made me stick in at school and she said that I could do better that way. My hands are clean and soft and they don’t ever smell of oil. And I’ve got a wife and kids that I don’t ever see myself leaving. My mam says that’s proof that she’s right. Maybe it is. And further proof is that I can’t fix cars or change wheels or even fit new headlamp bulbs. I get someone else to do all that for me.

    But some days I just lift the hood of my green Ford Torino and I dip my head and look at the engine, and I smell the oil, breath it in deep, and I think then of my daddy and the sound of his voice comes back to me like a remembered song.

  2. Lindsay

    Thanks, Judith. Yes, whenever I smell a working garage I think of my own dad, too, and he worked with engines and so it is a familiar smell.

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