Monday, February 01, 2010

forced entry #412 i think the first memory of my grandfather

One time I was driving from Colorado to New Jersey with my grandfather. We were in one of those big luxury cruisers he liked to drive. Lincolns and Cadillac’s and Buick sedans. Huge, long, V8 engine gas-guzzlers with tons of trunk space and plenty of legroom. He had a hundred of them if he had one. Anyway, I was six years old at the time. He was taking me from Denver to Newark, to live with him and my grandmother. The circumstances of why I was going I could only now speculate. The memories I have are those of a very young child's, the truth in them is questionable. I can only tell you what I know, from the impressions that were left upon me.

We were thundering down huge empty stretches of highway. Somewhere in the middle of America with nothing but open plains on either side of us. I would get restless and fiddle with the electric window controls, creating sounds in different pitches by rolling the window up and down and letting air blast into the car in a melody of whistles. Or toy with the controls to the radio or climb from the front seat to the back then back to the front again chasing some imaginary gremlin. Every few hundred miles he would tell me to settle down or threaten to pull over ands stop the car. He never said what would happen if the car stopped, but I was keen enough to know I didn’t want to find out.

Most of the trip my he sat in the drivers seat chewing on his cigar, sliding the unlit butt from one side of his mouth to the other in wise silence. Every so often he would turn on the radio to get a traffic or weather report, but aside from that he didn’t want much noise.

He told me to count the mile markers and see how high I could go. I think I made it to seventy-five before I fell asleep. He was a clever man.

In Kansas or Missouri we were chased by a storm. Off into the distant emptiness I saw as lightning cracked through the horizon. Thin bolts striking down across the plains just a few miles from us. I stared in wonder as the heavens broke before me, filled with a confusion of fear and awe. My grandfather grunted at the darkening sky and turned on the headlights. Then he grunted again and turned on the windshield wipers.

I watched as the storm caught up to us and the first raindrops began touching upon the window. Dark gray clouds flickering with anxious charges loomed above. The rain began to pelt the roof first gently and then with increasing violence. Soon we were being pummeled by the sky. The windshield wipers swept furiously but couldn’t catch up with the rush of water pouring down from overhead. I grew hypnotized by the headlights beaming by us in a blur. My grandfather adjusted his Stetson and tried to get a report on the radio. There was nothing but static and the static sounded like the rain and all beyond us was what we heard. The white noise of the storm.

We slept in the car one night. At dusk he pulled into a truck stop and he gave me a blanket and I curled up in the back seat while he lay down in the front. When I woke up we were already on the road with the rural sprawl of Indiana or Ohio or West Virginia on either side of us. We stopped at a diner and had eggs and bacon and he asked me if I liked living with my aunt in Denver and I didn’t know how to answer that so I just shrugged. He didn’t ask anything after that. Like I said, he was a clever man. we just finished our eggs and left.


Blogger Snooze said...

You capture a child's thoughts very well. Again, love your writing.

8:59 PM EST  

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at