Biflo

Biflo

“Take a look under her hood, go on I dare you,” Todd Mason says, his tiny ponytail sticking to the sweat on his neck. The carport shields them from the brutal Florida sun, but amplifies the humidity, trapping the heat from the engine of the car between them and baking their skin from the inside out. “This here’s what I needed, this here’s what it’s all about,” he says, “she’s a real beaut’, ain’t she?”

 

“She’s a piece of shit,” Johnny tells him, his white tank top wet so his nipples and ribs show through. “Mom’s going to kick your ass,” he says, “that was college money.”

 

“Nah, what I need college for? This right here is Pussy U,” Todd Mason says, running his hand along the matte Sienna hood of the car and down over the grille and one of its square bevelled headlights. “What I need college for when I got a ‘vette?” he asks again, pulling a Twizzler out of the back pocket of his cutoffs and tracing the curve of the windshield with it before placing it inside his cheek. “This Vette’s all I need,” he says.

 

“Stop calling it that, you moron. It’s a Chevette. You can’t call it that,” Johnny says, licking the sweat off his lip. He leans against one metal leg of the carport, peels his shirt off his stomach, and scratches himself.  Under his tank top, his skin is taut and red like a hot dog. His hair is wet from the heat. He pushes a spot of rust over the fender back into the paint with his foot. Todd Mason lies down on the hood.

 

“You think he needed it like this?” he asks Johnny. “Dad, I mean. You think he felt like this about the Mustang before he died?”

 

Johnny picks something out of his teeth and eats it. He kicks at the bumper and spits. Todd Mason lets his arms fall wide. He feels the heat from under the hood burn through his clothes.

 

Behind them, there is a pile of overturned lawn chairs next to a rose bush that has incorporated into its tangle a rusted Weber grill and Todd Mason’s bicycle. On the other side of the carport, their mobile home looms. On its side, their mother has painted a portrait of Conway Twitty with spray paint and a stencil she cut herself using an overhead projector the elementary school was throwing out one summer. She said she did it because she needed to see something good, big. Besides this, theirs is much like the other trailers that stand steadily disintegrating in disjointed congregation in their Bithlo trailer park.

 

Todd Mason looks up at the roof and runs his hand through his feathered bangs. He crosses one thin ankle over his knee and chews the liquorice rope in his cheek. “She gonna be mad, you think?” he asks Johnny, thinking of the time she stabbed him in the palm with a nail file for stealing her cigarettes.

 

“She’s going to fuck you up,” Johnny says, remembering she’d quit smoking, saying she needed the money for their college more than she needed to smoke. “She’s gonna kill us both,” he says.

 

There is some silence now, and a hot wind blows through the carport as the clouds close in for the afternoon rain. Fat drops hit the metal roof first, and then a slow quickening. Soon it comes down in sheets. They hear her pull up, her blue pick-up heaves up the dirt driveway and stops just short of the overhang.

 

Under the roof, the car purrs like a cat, shines a little through dull paint. Todd Mason leans back and opens the door, turns the radio on. All I Need is a Miracle by Mike and the Mechanics. She gets out of her truck and stands in front of them, in front of it all.

 

Beyond them, the rain hits the trailer, pelts Conway’s face and shakes rose branches around their captives. Beyond them, everything holds on to its dirt like it needs to, not letting the ugly wash off in the rain.

dottysummers

About Jill Summers

Jill Summers writes short stories, puppet shows, and once, a play. Her fiction has been broadcast on National Public Radio and published in Monkeybicycle, Knee-Jerk, Ninth Letter, and Make Magazine, among others. She is a past winner of the Paper Darts Short Fiction Award and was Chicago’s reigning Opium Magazine Literary Death Match Champ for a short, glorious period in late 2009. She is a new mom to Buster.

Jill Summers writes short stories, puppet shows, and once, a play. Her fiction has been broadcast on National Public Radio and published in Monkeybicycle, Knee-Jerk, Ninth Letter, and Make Magazine, among others. She is a past winner of the Paper Darts Short Fiction Award and was Chicago’s reigning Opium Magazine Literary Death Match Champ for a short, glorious period in late 2009. She is a new mom to Buster.

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