The Oldsmobile’s been tarped a while. Never did paint it.
Sometimes I flip that tarp and get in her, one leg out the door and my foot on the dirt, racing my after-dinner beers to that jumpy line between one more and too many while she puts the baby down.
The baby. My little girl. The baby smell of her puts a shiver down my spine. She’s like the beginning or the end of the world. I know I would do anything for her or for the sake of her but when she cries or even looks at me I’m like a screen door slapping on a rusty hinge and I’m already crushed by all the ways she will hurt.
I lift the can and drink while it’s still almost cool. Moonlight paints the hood and shines on the suicide knob, that flaking chrome skull with the Dirty Harry grin, flecks of dried teenage blood still in one eye socket from the year I got rear-ended and broke a tooth one night after I dropped her off on my way to see a different girl. One of a thousand things I never told her.
She shows up in dollar store flip-flops wearing my undershirt like a dress and pinching the baby monitor by the antenna like she might take off any second and just drop it in the dirt. She sits on my outside leg, that shirt high up her thighs and puts her head on my shoulder, drops the monitor on the seat, squirms on my leg—some kind of shortcut way of saying the night is young. It gets me hard but we’re tired so we just sit there hearing crickets and frogs and those small breaths on that baby speaker all together like a roomful of ticking clocks.
“Dishwasher’s broke I think,” she says in that staring across the lake voice but instead of really listening I’m telling myself to swallow the last of this not cold beer and bounce her on my dick real good, and then to paint this old vehicle someday before I have to take my little girl down some aisle somewhere, but I don’t move and she don’t move and it’s only a beer can rubbing between my legs.
I told her once I thought love and time only meet to kill the other off, or some shit like that, but we were kids then and this ain’t bad. She cooks good and never tells me no.