Canto 03

It was a warm mid-October morning.  Mike was sitting on a rusted chair outside Old Man Peal’s trailer, sipping a generic brand of energy drink.  Out on the dirt road sat his old Honda Accord, jam packed with whatever possessions he could fit into it, leaving just enough room for him to squeeze into the driver’s seat, and maybe, if he held his breath, enough room for Peal to squeeze into the passenger’s seat.  Maybe.

“That stuff’ll kill ya!”, Peal rasped at him as he came out of the house, barefoot and half naked.  He held his pants up with one hand while he waved the other at Mike.  Half his boxers were visible, like a ghetto clown.

“C’mon man.  Just get yourself dressed,” Mike replied.

“No, I’m serious.  You’ll be dead, dead of a stroke or heart attack in a year, you keep drinkin’ that shit.”

“Okay Mom.  Thanks for your concern.  Now hurry up and your butt out here.  I want to get going before dinner.”

A few minutes later a fully dressed Peal came out and stood by the car door, an unopened beer in each hand.  He looked inside the car and frowned.

“How am I supposed to get in there?”

“You’ll fit.”

“What about my beer?  I ain’t goin’ if I can’t drink my beer!”

“Shut up and get in the damn car!”

It was harder for Peal to get in the car than Mike imagined it would be, but with a few pushes he finally wedged himself inside.  Mike slammed the door shut, then with a final look at the place he had called home for the past 18 months walked around the car, opened the driver’s side door, and wiggled in behind the wheel.

“Say a prayer for us, old man.”

Peal cleared his throat.  “Dear Lord.  Please be with us a we travel, and keep this lunatic from killing me with his shitty driving.  Amen.”

“Amen, ” repeated Mike.  The engine sputtered to a start, the car lurched forward, and with a cloud of dust behind them they began final departure from the suburbs of Mauk.

“Ya know, I’m gonna miss this place a bit.  It is very quiet and peaceful.”

“Oh fuck!”, sputtered Peal.  “Yeah, if that jackass who lives next to you isn’t out shootin’ at ya.”

“Yeah, I won’t miss that fool.”  Mike paused a bit.  “You gonna miss Lucinda?”

Peal got suddenly angry.  “Don’t you say that name to me!”

Mike was shocked.  “Gosh.  Sorry.”

“I’m serious as Sunday.  You ever mention that name to me again I’ll whup your white boy ass!”


They were quiet as the car bumped along over the final stretches of dirt road, then once Mike turned on to the hardtop Peal popped open one of his beers.

“Dude, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.  There’re still lots of bumps up ahead.”

“You deal with your drivin’, I’ll deal with my drinkin’.  Don’t hit no bumps, and I won’t pour beer on your car.”

Fifteen minutes later Mike absentmindedly hit a pothole, and Peal spilt half a can of beer all over himself, the car seat, and whatever was packed in beside him and on the floor beneath his feet.