My family went bankrupt when I was very little. We had to leave our New York City apartment on Park Avenue and move to the South. We moved from house to house til I was 4 years old and settled into a college town. There I would ride my red tricycle miles on end amongst the sorority belle’s and the raging fraternity brothers on campus. My parents were always busy so I was free to do as I pleased. I learned to wander. One time I had wanted to go up to the roof of the 14th story library in the center of the university, four miles from my house. I made it all the way there. On top of the tower in a green sea of trees I felt free. It wasn’t long before I was discovered by authorities and they drove my preschool aged ass home to my unbeknownst mother and father.
One day I was sitting in the family car, a Scout International*(also red), eating Cheerios in the passenger seat while I waited for my mom to run an errand. When she was done and we tried to leave the car wouldn’t start. My mother was not the car fixing type. She turned and looked at me, clearly exasperated and shot me a look of expectation, as if she was waiting for my consenting answer. The expectation that yes, I would be the one to fix the car —that her ten year old cereal eating son would figure this one out. And so I did. I perched myself onto the chrome front bumper and looked under the hood. Starting from the engine block and working my way out I scanned the machinery for inconstancies. My eyes landed on the disconnected battery terminal and we were off. Problem solved.
A few years pass. We’re driving down the road in the same car to a different house. My father at the wheel and my half sister from my fathers first marriage was beside him. We had just left the grocery store. My half sister was always difficult—erratic and manic with violent tendencies. Her latest outburst at the store proved fruitful for me. As my father dealt with yet another episode with my sister I used this distraction to my benefit, sneaking a box of Gushers into the cart. These high fructose corn syrup sticky messy treats were most definitely outlawed in the Patterson household. They were sweet, toxic, and delicious.
Things started heating up in the car. My sister began to hit my father over and over. It was wintertime, the red Scout was a brilliant pop of color on the clean white landscape. My sister was now clawing at my father and it only took on wrong reaction for him and the car went flipping. The car flipped several times and the Gushers that were sitting at the very top of the grocery bags went spilling into the car. The Gushers felt like the axis the car was rotating around. Spinning, dancing. My sister and father continued fighting. I knew where I was so I grabbed my Gushers, jumped out and walked the four miles home in the snow.