Thinking about Allan, about that winter morning
he arrived at my place an hour before his junk job
at the construction site, how he put back together
my old Ford Taurus like a mechanical Humpty Dumpty,
who said, as he shut the hood, a day would come soon when
even he couldn’t jury-rig it. How I best start thinking about
saving for a new one, though he knew I couldn’t afford gas,
let alone another car. Hell, I told my sister the same thing
about him, how his drinking would be the death of them
sooner or later. He’d spotted me the water pump and O-ring
and never charged for labor. We drank cups of black tea.
He said he was sober. He was attending meetings again,
but things were tough at work. And there were the arguments
with Jackie, and, hell, oh hell. Work, family, he didn’t know
if he was cut out for any of it. Then we talked about me
for a long while. He said he was really truly sorry
about my wife leaving. I shook his hand. Said goodbye.
Inside two weeks he was dead. Drunk, he collided his pickup
into a guy-wire, shaving off his skull, so that, even after
the mortician’s artistry, in his casket Allan looked like
a confused Frankenstein. Guy-wires. That always got to me,
that term: guy-wires. My Taurus lasted a bit longer,
a month, and then it too died. I left it on the side of a road,
walked off never to see it again. So much is jury-rigged,
I thought, as I limped in cold sun under telephone poles,
their guy-wires, meant to stabilize everything,
stretched out like skinny legs trying to trip you.

Guy Wires by James Valvis

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