Suicide Knob, 1994

The Olds has been tarped a while. Never did paint it.

Sometimes I flip the tarp and sit behind the wheel, one leg outside, my foot on the dirt, and race my after-dinner beers to that line between lukewarm and still cold while she puts the baby down.

The baby. That smell sends a shiver down my spine. She’s a brand new start, one of the only fresh starts there ever was, real and true. I know I would do anything for her but when she looks up at me I hear a loose screen door slapping its frame during a summer storm, and I’m already crushed by all the ways she will hurt.

I drink my warming beer. Moonlight paints the hood to where I peeled the tarp back and shines on the suicide knob, that old cheap chrome skull that grins at me like Dirty Harry, flecks of dried blood still in one eye socket when I got rear-ended and busted my head, broke my tooth after I dropped her off one night on my way to see another girl.

She shows up in one of my undershirts and her flip-flops, nothing else, holding the baby monitor loosely by the antenna like she could drop it any second and run away. She sits on my outside leg, the shirt rising high up those softening thighs as she puts her head on my shoulder, drops the monitor on the seat, squirms on my leg and confirms she’s not wearing any panties.

“Dishwasher’s broke,” she says in her going to sleep voice just as I’m telling myself I’m gonna finish this beer and fuck her good and paint this vehicle proper soon and see my little girl down the aisle one day but I don’t move, don’t even lift the beer.

Her nipples are hard and now so am I. We listen to those small, deep breaths crackling in the monitor. Love and time have nothing to do with each other except in liking to kill the other off but this ain’t hard.

She cooks good and never tells me no.

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