Ann Gottesman
Cover design by Oberon
24 pp. Hand-sewn
Faerie Gold Press, Sebastopol , 2006

  The newspaper shook in his hand. He rolled it up, and jammed it in his back, black jean pocket. He bolted up the ladder to the submarine conning tower, opening the door, then, even though he hurried, carefully closing it. He climbed down the side of the wooden submarine house and ran to the garage. Pulling out his motorcycle gloves from his leather jacket, he put them on and his helmet, cranked up the motorcycle and sped off.
  Alex didn’t know how many times he had said yes, when he meant to say no. Now he was driving over to his son’s house to fix a water heater that probably didn’t need fixing. “It might explode. It might explode,” he mimicked his son’s voice over the phone. A red pick up truck, cut over too close, threatening to send him and his motorcycle off the road. “Son of a bitch,” he muttered, “No one knows how to drive these days.” He sped along the long stretch of highway towards Phoenix , the morning sun already hot.
  He reached back and felt under his leather jacket for the newspaper. It was still there. I wonder if he knows anything, he thought. Alex began to speed up, scanning the turn outs and other possible places cops could hide. Seeing nothing, he increased his speed. Then a white Saab pulled onto the road. He had to slow down considerably. “You’ll kill us all,” he bellowed. It was as if the driver heard him. The car sped up. “Guess I was wrong on that one,” he commented to himself.
  It was a long ride, but there was something to be said about being on his sports motorcycle, on a long road across the desert like an atomic scratch on the planet, connecting the circle of the earth, the circle of the wheel, the motor, together, a place where time and speed, body and machine melted into an infinity of sensation, vibrating through his hands, legs and groin, pumping adrenaline into his system. Something inside him wanted to run fast, wild and free. He imagined he felt the pulse of the earth along with his heart beat.
  When he pulled into the open gated driveway of his son’s house, his throat felt dry. At least he didn’t have to be buzzed in today. His son, the real estate agent, couldn’t fix a thing, he thought, swallowing hard, and was just like his bitchy, demanding, run at the mouth, ex-wife – the mother. Why had he said yes? Seeing his son brought up unpleasant memories and dissatisfactions, generally.
  Inside the garage, Sky was drying his recently washed black Mercedes.
  “Glad you came over, Dad,” Sky said quickly looking up at him and then back down at the circular pattern he made. He was trying to make sure every drop of water was absorbed. He smiled with great pleasure at his clean car.
  Alex parked his motorcycle inside the two car garage. He
grimaced at the sound of Dad . It made him feel old. He turned off the engine and removed his helmet. Glancing over at Sky in his t-shirt, cargo shorts and sandals, he couldn’t picture this as his son. His son would be working on a motorcycle, grease on his hands or traveling to South American, not always on the job, and then washing his car continuously. And on top of it, Sky seemed personally satisfied with everything, which annoyed Alex. The only common thread Alex saw they had, was that they were both bachelors, at least for the moment. He pushed his longish, disheveled, graying hair out of his face, and then felt the stubble of his several days’ growth. He ran his tongue across his unbrushed teeth, wishing he had something to drink.
  “Sold another house,” Sky said nonchalantly.
  “Great,” Alex said, matter of factly.
  “It might be the last, or well almost the last,” he added.
  “Are you trying to tell me something?” Alex said yawning.
  “Sure am. I’m leaving real estate and going to be a software designer, you know for computers. Letting go of black beauty here and buying a Ford Bronco. It’s more functional don’t you think?”
  “Yeah. Sure. Thought you loved your job?”
  “I do but I’ve got to stay ahead of the wave. A lot of people are getting into real estate. Time I moved on. Besides I have this idea of putting listings on the internet once it has filtered into the public more.” He paused to scrape off something he noticed on the paint. “You know me, it’s another game, a way to pass time and make lots of money. Don’t really care what I do as along as I stay ahead of the herd because if you don’t, that’s when you get slammed.”
  Alex didn’t know what he was talking about except that he wasn’t going to sell houses anymore. All he wished, he was doing, was riding home. He leaned back, observing his son while he talked on about his career transition. He talked and talked. He was sort of relieved to think there would be no grandchildren. If he would have known, what he knew now, he would have insisted Sunshine had an abortion. “But this was God sent, heavenly and their love so blessed,” she had said. He had said, yes again, instead of no. Of course, two years later and between her constant demands, and his son’s natural need for attention, not to forget the noise, it was living hell. It was the mix, not the individuals, some ex- girlfriend of his had told him. They just didn’t fit right together.
  He really was a loner, he later realized, didn’t even entertain the idea of having a dog. Why did he think a baby would be less trouble? Was it, that it was going to be his? Ridiculous. It was chance. He never even thought about it seriously until it was too late. What an idiot, he told himself for the millionth time. But once he made the mistake, he justified it, lived with it, and would die with it. At least he was honest with himself. He sighed.
  Sky looked over at him, recognizing the sigh.
  “Got the water heater fixed,” Sky said braking into Alex’s silence. He picked up a clean towel and continued to wipe his car dry.
  Alex absentmindedly patted the side of his motorcycle he straddled as if it were a horse. “What was wrong with it?”
  “Put something under your motorcycle, if it leaks oil,” Sky said.
  “So what was wrong with the water heater that I drove…” He didn’t finish his sentence.
  “Deposits. My neighbor came by and listened and told me it wasn’t going to explode, it was just deposits from the water. Want some ice tea?”
  Alex shook his head no, but he did want some tea. Why hadn’t someone given him a proper tool, a way to measure his yes’s and no’s? Got so tiresome to figure out at times, he would just go to work on his motorcycle or start building something. After removing his motorcycle gloves, he pulled the newspaper from his pocket. Sky came back from inside the house with two red plastic cups of ice tea. One had a clear straw in it.
  “In case you change your mind,” Sky said handing Alex the cup without the straw.
  “I see you still got those gloves I gave you,” Sky continued as Alex set them on the seat behind him under the bungee cord.
  “Yeah. I like these gloves. Fit nice. I’d be sorry if I ever lost them,” he said and drank his tea.
  Sky started spraying Windex on the windows and wiping them clean with paper towels. He looked towards Alex.
  “Dad, did you ever seen the movie with Marlon Brando called “The Wild One”?”
  “Sure, but so what.”
  “Did you see Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean?”
  “That’s me, a malcontent,” he said, folding his arms across his chest.