Instead of taking me in they gave me a computer. They send messages and pictures of the boys. What good do those do me? Anyway, it’s how I read about Terminal Tours. Keever came right up to Cleveland the day after I called, and I told him I had a gift to deliver for my daughter. We loaded my oxygen bottles in the old Lumina. He complained some that t he upholstery smelled as if it had been cured by cigarette smoke, the ashtray was overflowing with butts, and the windshield had a film of tar that would need to be scrubbed. I guess he knew how the seat got burned down by his crotch.
On the way out to Missouri, I told him some background, how Joanne and I had sacrificed for Becky, sending her to private schools, paying for her university, helping her buy the house, Jesus Christ, the house she was living in right now. Then Joanne died, and Becky let me live alone in Cleveland. At first, I didn’t want to be a burden on her, but now that time is short I want to be around my two grandsons.
When we got to Becky’s, I told Keever to drive up the middle of the driveway and pull up close to the garage door.
“Closer, closer,” I said. “OK , now shut off the engine and give me the key.”
“All right,” I said, “now get our stuff out of the back seat.”
I got out and locked the car doors, but instead of walking up to Becky’s front door I went down the driveway to the sidewalk.
“Come on, Jesus Christ, bring the stuff,” I told Keever.
“You’re not going in?”
“Jesus Christ no. Why would I go in there?”
“Where are we going then?”
“We’ll go a few houses up the street, and you’ll ask if a dying man can use the phone to call a cab.”
“Mr. C., what’s this all about? What about the gift?”
“It’s the car. I’m leaving the Lumina to Becky.”
“But you’re taking the key.”
“Jesus Christ, of course I’m taking the key. Let her hire a tow truck. See what it’s like to pay to get something moved. Then she can figure out what to do with her inheritance.”
I knew there was no way to get the smell of cigarettes out of that car, and even if there was the cleaning wouldn’t be worth it for that beat-up old Lumina with the shaky steering and missing back bumper. I could see a future, one different than death: Becky will come out of the house, see the Lumina, worry that I’ve come to visit, try to sniff smoke in the air, wonder just where in hell I am, look around the yard for me, and wonder if I’ve wandered off. Then she’ll try the car doors, find them locked, look around some more, go back in the house, call Victor at work, come back out to the yard, try the doors again, and stand there bewildered. She’ll go back into the house and illogically try to call me. One of these days, maybe before she calls the tow truck, she’ll understand what I’ve passed on to her.
To continue this story, read Passing On by Michael Keever.