"We Do It All For You" by Kevin Lavey
|Kevin is a teacher and author of the award-winning novel, Rat. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.|
© 2009 Kevin Lavey
"Whoa, boy, I'm hungry."
"Eleventh commandment. Honor thy stomach."
He drove. Shocks squeaked, steering wheel yanked to the left. Top speed, sixty m.p.h. It had been a beautiful summer.
"You think the Orioles have a chance?"
He laughed so hard he nearly bumped the car next to us. I'd heard him say that to a girl two nights ago at a party. He'd run out of material; she tried to get rid of him. He tanked it on purpose: "You think the Orioles have a chance?" he said to her. Neither of us had girlfriends that summer.
He looked at his watch. “10:30. What’s open this late?” he said.
"Blake's Diner is open."
He let out a soft whistle. “That’d be sweet.” He maneuvered through downtown traffic. We'd been to the game. "Straight out 40 or take the freeway around?"
"Through the city, for sure."
"I'm thinking pancakes," he said. "Double stack, I say to the waitress. Double stack of cakes and a half dozen pork patties on the side. And, hey, I'm thinking about two ice cream scoops of butter on top of the cakes. I see them melting into little streams down the sides of the mountain. Some potatoes, too."
"You trying to lose weight?"
"I want to chose from that little rack of syrups.”
"Man," I said. "I'm ready to eat the car mat."
"You got any money?"
"I got two. That's not getting us to Blake's."
"Put on some tunes."
"Eleventh commandment. Do not listen to St. James in vain." He put in a CD of Jimi Hendrix. "Electric Ladyland remains the best double album ever been put out by anybody. Ever been put out by anybody."
We drove out of downtown, through west Baltimore. Next month, September, we would start college. Year after that he'd get married to a pregnant girlfriend. Hendrix sang, "Have you ever been to Electric Ladyland..." That summer nothing touched us.
"Eight goddamn dollars," he said. "We'll have to go fast food. But we're in good shape," he said. "We got a full tank of gas."
"I know a guy whose older brother saw Bob Marley."
"Wow. Marley was a sage."
"Marley was God."
We passed Westview where the strip malls begin, the fast food joints, more our territory than downtown. We tried to play like we were city kids when we went down there, but we were what we were, suburban rangers. Younger, we used to ride through acres of parking lots on our bikes, letting air out of car tires, surfing the malls, hanging out in stores.
"You said your mother's giving you this car?" I said.
"Yeah, it's mine. Was the old man's."
His father disappeared around Christmas. They got postcards from Texas and Florida.
"Donny's or King Kong's?"
"Donny's," I said. "Double cheeseburger time."
"Sullivan and I came up here and that asshole ordered a salad."
"Fucking salad? At Donny's?"
"Shame, isn't it."
Let's drive over to his house right now. Beat the shit out of him for making you feel funny about bringing him there."
"Sucker's got a designer haircut. If I hadn't seen him chug that beer in six seconds at the party I'd say excommunicate him." We were Catholic. "Six seconds. You got to respect that. I don't give a shit what his haircut cost."
"Here we are," I said.
At the table, we unwrapped our burgers, squirted ketchup on one of the wrappers, spread out the fries. He said, "Seven dollars and ninety-seven cents. That's talent."
I had a knack for tailoring our order up to our spending limit.
"It's nothing, man."
"Eleventh commandment," he said. "All else fails, go to McDonald's. I mean if all else fails, because you cannot go wrong here."
"What's the twelfth commandment?"
He stopped in mid-bite. "Don't go there," he said.
We tied on the feedbag, even ate the ice out of our cups.
"My mother told me I had to start thinking about the future," he said. We’d piled our trash on the tray. "I looked at her and said okay, knowing it's her job to bring me down."
He sat in the corner of his booth. He closed his eyes then rested his head back. He fell asleep, right there in McDonald's, place we'd been to a thousand times in our lives. He looked like a little kid. I kept quiet and watched a guy start to mop up.
All work is copyrighted property of Kevin Lavey.
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