Trunk Story by M.E. Parker
If there were a body stashed in his mom’s trunk, nobody would know it. The cops would have to root through layers of seventies-green carpet scraps his mom left in there after she tried to fix up the rent house herself, when she left the floors looking like a fucked-on bed at the Motel 6, scraps still moist from stale beer, stinking of mildew and spilled cougar urine she bought to ward off all the raccoons and opossums left unchecked after she rounded up the dogs abandoned by the last renters. She bought poison for the rats, so there was some of that in there, too. He figured his mom would have tried to shove that whole rent house into her trunk if she didn’t have to sell it to pay her bills, since she couldn’t get anyone other than deadbeats with more dogs than sense to rent it.
That car used to be in immaculate condition. The whole family could‘ve had a picnic in that trunk if they had wanted to. They almost did on the way to see Mt. Rushmore when it rained the entire trip, the last trip they took with their dad. That Buick sat in the garage for a while until his mom had to sell her car. Though she still let he and his sister use it sometimes. Last year, he learned to drive in that car, when that oversized trunk was still an empty cavern, so much room his sister could’ve put up a stripper pole in there and danced around it for tips. The Carnie manning the balloon-dart booth told her she, sure enough, had the ass for it.
His mom had told him not to come back until he found her special lighter, the Zippo that his dad had given her, the one with the inscription. Fishing that lighter out of his mom’s trunk was almost as bad as unclogging the stopped up toilet in the rent house. And after excavating what amounted to a garbage time capsule, he still hadn’t come up anything other than a sack of groceries his mom forgot about, stuffed with the part of the barbeque nobody he knew cared about, salad fixings, a few tomatoes and squash and apples all turned to black mush in a plastic sack. It looked like the haggis his mom tried to make him eat in Scotland last year when they went to visit his uncle who was shut up in some loony bin over there.
Slogging through that trunk reminded him of the scene in Star Wars, the original one, not the new stuff with cartoon-ish, moronic characters with flop ears that talk like Rastafarians on an episode of Blue’s Clues, the one where Princess Leia is still hot, before she fell apart, and they’re stuck in the Death Star garbage shoot with the giant snake that keeps pulling them under the muck, and the walls start closing in on them, compacting them into a dense brick of Storm Trooper refuse. His dad probably would have just put a match to that pile of junk and called it quits, but he wisely took off long before the car and the house and the yard went totally to shit.
Beneath his flattened soccer ball, the one he’d been looking for nearly two months, he spotted a glint of metal, his mom’s lighter, coated is some red goop, sticky in some places, still wet in others, like a bloody metal cyborg finger severed in an epic battle for trunk superiority. He fished it out with a magazine cover, a Boy’s Life, that stupid magazine you get when you’re in Boy Scouts, something his dad, Mr. Eagle Scout the scout master extraordinaire talked him into joining, then poof, he had to go on the campouts with his stinky granddad instead, who substituted prunes for raisons in the trail mix and spent the whole time telling stories about the days when kids rolled up their sleeves and fought it out, instead of shooting each other in the hallway like a bunch of oversexed barbarians—oh, and how teachers used to be able smack kids around and spank them and humiliate them and that’s what’s wrong with the world now, no ass-kicking and no praying in school and girls not keeping their damned legs closed, and wars fought by pushing buttons instead of getting out there to look your enemy in the eyeballs before capping them with a round from your Browning or running them through with the bayonet sticking off the end.
He eyed the lighter. The inscription read, “with love--Don.” He figured it should’ve read, keep smoking, die already so I don’t have to go through the trouble of leaving you--Don. He thought about chucking the lighter into the street. Maybe his mom would quit smoking, might help her get a job, but he figured it would take more than a missing lighter, that his mom, with the way she sucked them down lately, would probably have a nervous breakdown if she tried to quit smoking now.
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