“Hey boy, get me that crescent wrench. The middle sized one, now, ya hear, boy?”
“I’ve got a name,” Mark grumbled to himself as he dug through the pile of greasy tools trying to figure out which wrench was the “middle sized one”.
As Mark compared seven different wrenches, he inwardly cringed. Dad would mangle the car and make it worse. No use telling him that he needed the right tool, and that the crescent wrench, even the exact one he wanted, wasn’t right. He’d heard it before.
“It’s better than nut’in. Those stupid Jap cars all moved to magico-micros,” “millimeters,” “whatever, instead of good old-fashioned American units, like five-sixteenths. Now, my first car was a ’67 ‘Cuda. Sweet car, that. I tore her down and rebuilt her a dozen times or more. She had over two-hundred grand on it by the time I sold. Sold her for a pretty penny too. Today even so-called American cars are Jap-crap. And this piece of Jap Garbage…”
“It’s Korean, Dad.”
“Who the freak asked you?”
Mark chose the crescent wrench that seemed the most average of the seven. Dad had drunk quite a bit of whiskey, so either he wouldn’t care or it would be impossible to chose the right one. It didn’t matter either way.
“Here you go, Dad.”
Dad grabbed the wrench with a grunt. A lot of clanking and a little swearing came from beneath the car.
“Hey, boy, get me that there big Phillips screwdriver. Phillips. Give me a flat-head and I’ll come out and wallop ya. And the big un, boy, the big un.”
Mark shook his head. What did he need that for? He knew his dad had no idea what he was doing, but you couldn’t tell him.
“I’m not going to give some rip-off joint five hundred bucks to make a mess of my car!”
Everything was “five hundred bucks” to Dad, everything from changing the oil to rebuilding an engine or a new transmission. “I’ll save five hundred bucks.”
Mark handed Dad the biggest Phillips screwdriver he could find.
More swearing came from under the car.
And then a softer voice.
“Mark, are you in there?” Mom asked. She was standing at the garage door. “Oh, there you are. Did you do your homework tonight?”
Mark had finished his homework before dinner, but lied, “Uhm, no. Sorry, I thought I’d have time before bed…”
“You get your young behind in there now and get it done.”
Dad pushed out from under the car.
“You can’t steal the boy from me! I’m fixing this god-damned car!”
“You can fix it on your own. Mark has to do his homework so he can go to college.”
“I ain’t paying one red cent for some fancy pants school for my boy!”
“Of course not,” Mom said. “That’s why he has to do good, so he can get scholarships and grants. Now listen to your mom, Mark, and get in there and do your homework. Now.”
Mark tried to act like he didn’t want to go in as he moved towards the door, but whispered, “Thanks!” to Mom on the way out.
Instead of going to the house, Mark walked down the street. The voices of his parents arguing faded as he turned the corner.
A little park graced their neighborhood, not five minutes’ walk away. The graffiti and litter were invisible in the fading light, so he could pretend, at least for a minute, that he was a million miles away instead of a half of a mile. A car drove by, it’s headlights on already.
Mark knew he couldn’t spend long there before either the police would show up, or, worse yet, some of the older kids.
It was like that, wasn’t it? Some whiskey-yelling, banged up, no good job and some darkness to cover it from both the bad guys and the so called good, right? And it would be a dark night.
But there was a bit of light.
The horizon was still glowing in the last of the sunlight. A crescent moon hung above a tree at the end of the park.
A new moon. A growing moon.
A time of rebirth.
A car passed in front of the park, its headlights briefly illuminating Mark.
It was time to go home.
He whistled a tune as he walked left the park.
This was written for Sue Vincent’s writephoto challenge. The photo at the top of the page is Sue’s and she gave us a keyword, crescent.