It was an early May Sunday morning when my father solemnly walked up the few flights of stairs into our apartment. Growing up in my house, Sunday was the morning when my father traditionally went to the bakery before sunrise to buy rolls, bagels, and doughnuts. To this day, I have a hard time understanding how anyone can sit through a church service without a belly full of yeasty dough. God’s voice may be like thunder, but the whisper of the Spirit isn’t often heard over the rumbling of tummies in church.
My father set the bags on the kitchen table and turned to FringeMan. Without eye contact, my dad muttered a question that didn’t require an answer. “Did you park around the corner on Lake Avenue?”
FringeDad is much like Ricky Ricardo, only he’s lighter on the bongos and heavier on the Bronx accent. In times of excitement, he’s been known to break out in Portuguese while we just stare and wait for the subtitles to roll across the screen. Unfortunately this Sunday’s excitement wasn’t the variety that warranted a song and dance from the Copa Cabana.
For some reason, FringeMan had spent Saturday night at my house. My brother was away in college and because FringeMan lived an hour away, my parents sometimes let him use my brother’s empty room. It was on those nights that my mother slept in the hallway across my door jamb. She has in fact required me to sleep in bed with her before…for my protection, you understand. Big mama had a way of protecting her baby cubs, and even a seasoned hunter like the FringeMan was no match for her.
Looking at my dad with worry, FringeMan said, “Ya, I’m parked around the corner. What happened?”
Parking on city streets is usually challenging, often adventure filled, and sometimes dangerous. This morning didn’t disappoint. My father muttered something about us needing to go check on the truck and we (FringeMan, Myself, my mother, and father) proceeded to run single file down three flights of steps, a city block, and around the corner.
Holding his head in his hands, FringeMan began uttering words in a tongue almost as foreign as my father’s. His truck had been hit by one heavy piece of steel. No longer parked alongside the curb, it had been pushed over the curb, through a mailbox, and across a sidewalk. We could actually see the police station from the parking space FringeMan’s truck had once filled. The cops arrived and in an act of kindness they told FringeMan not to bother having the truck towed until Monday morning. It would save him hassle and money. They promised to keep an eye on it, because in New York a broken down vehicle is like a clearance sale sign at Kohl’s. You turn your back for a second and your car has been stripped of its clothes, carpet, and all mechanical parts.
My mother rallied her energies for another night of patrolling the halls and took us to church. We managed to enjoy the day despite the morning’s excitement and found things to keep us out and occupied until after dark. It was when my mother’s little Toyota Corolla, stuffed with our large adult bodies, rounded the corner just past the police station that we were blinded by lights flashing in every direction.
FringeMan exploded out the passenger’s side window as he gazed upon his twisted piece of junk metal, formerly known as his truck, now surrounded by police with guns drawn. Never underestimate a promise from New York’s finest. They had their man on the ground and in handcuffs when we spilled from the car. He had just begun stripping FringeMan’s truck of whatever was left intact.
That night we waited under the stars for the tow truck. FringeMan secretly contemplated hitching a ride from my cousin to buy my engagement ring…to be continued next week.
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