Driving on the Bicentenial
Before seat belt laws, before children's rights, but after the invention of the wheel, we ride like livestock in the back of the truck: the one Dad painted with house paint and a big brush. The color of rust to hide the rust. Under the "cap," where fishhooks wing from bamboo poles that lean on spare tires that crouch over tarps, thick and quilted, that stink like the dogs, that pace, clicking their long nails, dogs that pace, snuffle-nosing the windows, that won't open more than an inch or so. In July. My brother and I fight like cartoon cyclones, like Spiike Hubers, like nsanity down the Illinois tollway, Nick calling temporary truces whenever we approach a tollbooth, his queer fascination with the sound the tires make Over the warning ridges, outweighing his rage. And beyond--into Wisconsin--we fight, equally matched, equally fueled with sibling...stuff, rolling on the corrugated floor, dodging the fishhooks. Our mother turns her neck, her head, her eyes, and through the double windows separating cap and the cab, soundproof, watches Nick twisting the skin on my forearm in two directions, Indian burn. And me pinching his neck, the tiniest bit of skin crabbed between my fingernails. She gathers an eyebrow high, lights a cigarette, doesn't tell Dad, doesn't look back again; we must be punishment enough for each other.