The Day it Hailed, and I Steal a Car
My car is parked on the highest level of the parking lot, where tennis ball-sized hail has dented the cars. They are all BMWs and Lexus’ and my run down Buick. I get a sick sort of pleasure knowing that now they are all worth the same. Nada.
My pretty neighbor taught me that word. She and her boyfriend scream at each other in the middle of the night but I know she’ll never leave him. “¡No vales nada!” Anyway, she doesn’t even know she has a neighbor, so I doubt I have any chance.
Last night in front of my building, a guy ran over a squirrel. It was the late night Cubs traffic. Those fans get so drunk they make me want to root for the other team. I don’t even like baseball and to top it all off, he hit that squirrel so hard it launched the sucker into my bedroom window. I thought it was the kids again and sat straight up in bed to see the bloody trail it left on my window.
I try to be a decent guy. I don’t curse at the kids when they throw rocks and call me things. I don’t correct my pretty neighbor when she thinks I’m the mailman. She dumps her letters in my hands on her way to work. Every day. But you can’t fault a guy for wanting a friend. Even if that friend has never said a full sentence to you. In her letters, she says the nicest things. I learned Spanish from those letters. The valet at the garage next to mine says I’m getting pretty good.
Looking out over the rail on the top floor, I feel like spreading my arms and taking flight. The ground is far enough that I don’t think I would feel it; I’d just be a bloody trail left for people to walk around. Something else to clean up. But I’ve never seen myself as the squirrel.
It takes six minutes to walk from the roof of my garage to the valet’s post next door. He’s across the street, grabbing a sandwich. Bits of hail litter the sidewalk here and in the streets the cars crush them loudly. I flip open the key box. I grab the one with “red lexus” scrawled on the tag. The valet will lose a tip today. But I am losing a job, apartment, and the best reading material I’m not supposed to have. I don’t see myself as nice anymore. I slide into the driver’s seat and the engine purrs for me. Out of the parking lot and I point the car west. There’s gotta be a pretty girl somewhere before the ocean who appreciates a guy in a Lexus.
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