from CHAPTER TEN

 

The world was as new as a 1959 Cadillac. With its white-wall tires and fender skirts, its soaring tailfins, its dropped convertible top, and its white vinyl interior gleaming in the sun, the car seemed like an arrow poised to fly through the air. Its sky-blue paint made it look like it was part of the ether.

 

“Oh, wow!” I found myself whispering as I leaned my elbows on the hood of my old truck and stared off down the street. “A convertible.” I was ready for the past to appear.

 

I remembered a lot about that day, a lot of little pieces.

 

I remembered children and dogs running, housewives stepping briskly down their front walks, neighbor men showing up with pruning shears and paint brushes still in their hands. They’d been that excited, too excited even to put down their tools before joining the crowd.

 

I remembered exclamations and questions arriving in a flood. “Can we go for a ride?” “Show us how the top goes.” “How’s this big battleship gonna fit in that little ol’ garage?” “Oh, wow!”

 

I remembered Mr. Peacock grinning behind the wheel. I remembered watching him put the car in park, turn off the ignition, swing his right arm over the back of the passenger’s seat, lean way back, and grin some more.

 

A girl pushed through the crowd. “Oh, Daddy! Let’s go now!” I remembered Libby. I remembered the boy who came running, tearing full speed across the street. It was Stan. And I remembered Mr. Peacock sitting upright fast and holding out his hand like a traffic cop. My brother stopped a good ten feet short of the shiny new Cadillac. Everyone respected the man with a new car.

 

In a flash, Libby and Stan were in the back seat. Mr. Peacock was waving at his wife. “Come on, honey!” She paused to clip a loose strand of hair back from her face with a bobby pin before easing into the front seat beside her husband. Mr. Peacock turned the key and we all listened to the engine with admiring pleasure, listened knowingly to highly advertised and high-price quality, before the car glided smoothly, oh so smoothly, away from the curb.

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