Something I saw

Picture a hot day in 2006, somewhere on that stretch of the 280 between San Jose and Cupertino that’s all dirty concrete and chainlink bridges holding back people and flora. I’m driving lazily down the interstate on our way back from the mall. I’m gazing out at the other cars passing and falling behind us, and one catches my eye.

It’s a ford mustang from the sixties or seventies (I don’t know cars), the one that looks like a thunderbird but different. It must have been green or brown at some point, but it’s so caked in rust and oddly yellow dust, like a faded picture or a windowsill, that now it’s just a mottled, sad gray-brown something of what used to be a hot car. Inside, sitting on cracked leather seats, are two men.

The first man looks like an embittered version of Jimmy Corrigan’s father. A few of you know what that means. He’s an older soul, balding, with wireframe glasses, a slight paunch, and a scowl that’s sort of fizzled away into just an uncomfortably indignant look.

He isn’t speaking.

Next to him is a younger man, somewhere in his twenties or thirties. He’s thin, has long, straight, fine brown hair–almost a hippie look, but a little closer to a guy who just thought that the pony tail is a good look for men. He has thick, black rimmed glasses and a dirty T-shirt, is acne-scarred and sporting a light beard shadow over his freckled face. He doesn’t look uncomfortable or comfortable, his face is a complete, almost slackjawed neutral.

He isn’t speaking.

And they’re heading silently down the 280 on a hot pre-summer day.


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