I got into my father’s pickup truck. He was driving. The cab smelled of gas and oil and dirt, residue of my father’s constant work. He was a jack-of-all-trades around
. He knew plumbing,
electrical work, carpentry, brick laying, grading, whatever needed doing at a
construction site. But he was licensed in none of those jobs, and had no
education beyond high school. He’d always earned us a living, but had never
made much money beyond that. It had been up to me to get a scholarship if I
wanted to attend anything other than a local vocational-technical school.
Despite holding back, at least I’d be able to keep up my end of the deal. Silva
We pulled out of the stadium parking lot. There was very little traffic, just a few parents leaving with their sons, other athletes leaving with their pals and girlfriends, the college scouts taking their leave. The view from the top of the drive was, as always, beautiful. You could see
looming several miles away, a typical Blue Ridge
peak. Over there was Tennessee
and the really high country. We started down the drive, smashing gravel between
the truck’s tires and the newly paved surface. My father finally spoke.
“You see that fella with me in the stands?”
“Hard to miss him,” I admitted. I didn’t say anything about his strangeness, fearing he may be an old friend of my father’s. “Who was he?”
“His name’s,” my father paused, as if about to say something he didn’t really believe. “His name’s Isaac.”
“Old friend of yours?”
“Kind of, yes. Haven’t seen him in a very long time, but he did something for us. For the family. I owe him a lot. We all do.”
“What do you mean, we all do?”
“All three of us. Me. Your mom. You, even.”
“I never met the guy, dad. How could I owe him anything?”
My father’s anger flared, then, as it could since my mother’s death. “You owe him your life, Kevin! You owe him your existence!” He stared hard at me so that I could see that he meant what he said, and then we were at the bottom of the drive and pulling out onto the highway.
“Okay, Dad. Whatever you say. I didn’t mean to say you were lying.”
“He’s coming over to talk to you tomorrow. I said it was okay. So don’t make any plans. He’ll be over early in the morning and he wants to talk to you, tell you some things.”
My dad leaned into the steering wheel, turned on the headlights (although he didn’t really need to), and gazed ahead at the familiar roadway. We passed fields and farms. The
flowed to our
right, just beyond a line of oaks and pines where we couldn’t see it. Cattle
grazed in fields that were periodically flooded, but dry for now, and green
with rich grass. “He’s got a job for you, I think.” Coosawattee
“What? What kind of job?”
“I don’t know. That I don’t know. It’s…it’s part of a deal me and your mom worked with him before you were born.”
“Dad, this ain’t makin’ a whole lot of sense. What are you talking about? I already work part-time for Mr. Wishon, and I’ve got this last semester of school, and then I have to figure out which one of those scholarships I’m gonna take.”
“Kevin…I’m proud of you for getting those scholarship offers. You know I am. I couldn’t afford to send you to any college past Jasper, and you know it. But your mom and me gave Isaac our word, and you’ve at least got to hear him out. That’s all I’m saying. Just hear him out tomorrow.
“You’ll do that, at least.”
“Okay. Okay, I’ll hear him out. Tomorrow’s Saturday and I’ll have all day to listen to him.”
“All right,” my dad whispered. He said nothing more as we drove on toward home.
|"We pulled out of the stadium parking lot."|