Greyhound Station Stop
We had waited until he finally came home to leave for my seventeenth birthday trip to the Keys. Now we’re all in the car like any family on vacation, my mother driving, he being too drunk and ugly. I’m not usually the object of his ugliness, but I was just caught smoking the week before, and he is haranguing me about it. He leans over the front seat toward me, sweaty forearm below his checkered shirt. His face is like a cornered rat’s, his broad nose distorted, the teeth smoker’s yellow.
“I don’t care how goddamn smart you are,” he slurs, warming to his topic. “This is just the first step. The first goddamn step. Next thing you know, you’ll be knocked up.” I focus on the tiny foam of spittle forming in the corner of his mouth to block out the words. My thirteen-year-old brother rolls down his window, maybe pleased to not be the subject of attack for once.
My father bends toward my mother. “Knocked up, Thelma,” he says in his louder, needling voice, as if she can’t hear him from a foot away. “Then what will that do for your darling daughter? Your smart-ass darling daughter?” She focuses on the road.
He turns back to me. “What will that do for your goddamn collage plans? Huh? You can’t go to college knocked up. How wudja like them apples?” I’m surprised when he sloppily swings the back of his hand towards me, something he has never done before. His aim is way off.
“Balls,” he mutters to himself and slowly repositions his body to face front. Everyone keeps looking out their respective windows.
Whether it’s his idea or my mother’s, I’ve lost track, but she pulls into the Greyhound bus station when we reach Ft. Pierce so he can go back. I’m willing to just let it go, to go on, to have the trip we’re supposed to have as eventually we will when he sobers up. But she opens the trunk and the gray suitcase so he can get the only thing he really wants to take with him—the fifth of Jim Beam wrapped in a pair of underwear—while we continue south without him.
Copyright, 2016, Linda S. Buckmaster