A Phone Call Would Not Do

 

I thought I heard my dad through the garage door sawing lumber. Winter clouds killed the green in the grass. I knocked softly, my breath steamed. The door opened, candles lined the entrance. My father was diligently cutting my brother’s blue Triumph with a hacksaw. The tire and rear axle looked eaten, and the oil lines dribbled their contents on the floor.

He placed the saw on the workbench.  “I’m sorry, this was a bad idea.” Oil made it past the candles into the driveway. “How is mom holding up?” he asked. He crawled for sweat rags to clean the mess.
“She’s fine Dad. Still reeling, but handling.”
He shivered in his dirty undershirt. He walked through the oil, over candles, and outside to stand on the dying grass. I followed.
“Do you think your brother would care about the bike?” .
I said, “No.”
He exhaled,  and his breath shimmered. “Are you just saying that?”
“Yeah,” I said, “I am just saying that.”
He turned his head to the garage to watch the candles. “I could’ve given it to mom.” He chuckled.                                                                                                                                          “She hates it just as much as you do.” I said.
He said, “She hates me just as much as I hate it.”
I said,  “Mom doesn’t hate you.”
“You’re just saying that too!” He shouted, loud.  “I’d hate me; I gave him the damn thing.” He shivered, and after a few moments of looking at the candles he sat down on the grass, and placed his folded hands over his mouth. I think he cried.
Standing, I turned to look at the flames near the oil

“Dad, you know oil will burn right?”
No response.

I wondered what it would be like to be dead. I wondered what would happen if my father decided to give the bike to me instead of him. I wondered if my brother would appear on a new bike, if it would be silent or wake us up if we slept towns apart.
I sat down with him, the oil in the dirt wet my jeans, I kept seeing my brother in the corner of my eye, even as I made an effort to put my hand in his hand.  The breeze picked up, the tufts of smoke wisped from the candle tops, then vanished.
“I’m sorry dad. I hope you know that.”
“I do, I am too.” It took a while for him to get up, but when he did, my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the darkness. I stood inside his warm house, waiting for him to come back in. Even in his white shirt, he blended with the night.

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