...and here's another story about a car accident. I was fourteen and my dad and I were driving back home from this camping spot outside of town. His then-girlfriend stayed behind and he would have whined for weeks about going alone if someone didn't go with him. We were behind a truck carrying livestock of some kind. I rolled up my window of my dad's 1955 Ford Mercury because I couldn't stand the rank smell. My dad slammed on the breaks and swerved so we didn't hit the truck in front of us which was now flipped over. A car that was headed in our direction stopped on the other side of the dark highway. My dad got out of the Mercury to try to look inside the cab of the truck. Later in life he told me that he couldn't tell if the driver didn't make it or if he just got knocked out.
From inside the Mercury I watched a bunch of pigs running and squealing all over the road and scurrying off into the woods. My dad motioned to me. The woman in the car that pulled over on the other side of the road started yelling at us as she was on her cellphone with what I assume was 911.
My dad had popped the trunk of the Mercury and opened the driver's side door. Those dead pigs were heavy and I tried to pull my shirt over my nose but it didn't help much. Two pigs fit in the trunk, my dad laid his weight on the trunk to get it to shut as the woman was yelling some more at us while talking to whoever on her phone and crying. My dad ignored her and what else could I do? We got four pigs in the back seat two piled on two. Two more squeezed awkwardly on the floor boards behind the front seat.
The back of the Mercury sagged and we drove away with the woman standing on the highway still in hysterics. This was the slowest, smelliest ride I've had in any car. My dad parked in the garage and locked the garage door. I thought that we'd see the ambulance or police coming on the highway on our way home, but my dad, the pigs and I had the road to ourselves wee wee wee all the way home.
My dad's then-girlfriend made us all hot chocolate and we sat at the kitchen table as he told her about our grocery shopping on the highway. After this they went to bed. I had a long hot shower because I could still smell dead pigs and whatever farm odours. My dreams were all about women shouting, pigs and tires screeching.
When I woke up the next day my dad and his then-girlfriend were in the back yard. A delivery truck was in the back alley and I watched my dad help two men in overalls carry a new deep freezer from their truck beside the garage. My dad flipped the men in overalls a few bills. The two men stood there as if waiting for my dad to lighten his wallet a little more. My dad said Don't be fucken greedy. They left, shaking their heads.
My dad motioned to me again. His then-girlfriend ran an extension cord from inside the garage and plugged the deep freezer in. He said to me We'll let 'er get cold, then tonight will fill it up when it's dark outside and the neighbours won't see. He placed his hacksaw on top of the deep freezer and kissed his then-girlfriend on the cheek and he gave her the deep freezer key.
Dark came. My dad took out a tarp that we used for camping and placed it in front of the trunk of the Mercury. We yanked one of the two pigs out of the trunk and it's hoof slipped out of my hand and it plopped on the tarp. We dragged the pig in the tarp to the deep freezer and lifted the tarp to dump it inside. He told me to be more careful when we went for the next one so we don't bruise the meat.
The pigs in the back seat were a bit easier. My dad got in on the other side and pushed and we hauled all six of them one by one to cram in the freezer. My dad locked up the deep freezer and told me to shut the trunk and car door before I came back inside the house. The trunk and backseat were a sty with blood smeared and who knows what else on the white leather seats.
The next day my dad's then-girlfriend spent all day scrubbing the inside of the car to get rid of the mess from the swine corpses. From then on, I would not sit in the back seat of the Mercury. The front bench had enough room for all three of us. Even when we went to the store to buy vegetables and pasta, I'd rather sit in the front with a billion grocery bags on my lap than sit in the back where it still stank like a farm graveyard.
For forever and a day the three of us lived off of ham steaks, roasted pork belly, bacon and eggs, pork and beans, trotters, ribs, chicharrones, pulled pork, bbq ribs, my dad's then-girlfriend even made head cheese.
When I turned sixteen my dad gave me a little box. He said that his then-girlfriend insisted on the stupid-looking bow. I opened the box up and the keys to the Mercury were inside. My dad patted me on the back as he hugged me and his then-girlfriend wished me a happy birthday. Later that night they asked me if I wanted to go out to eat, we pigged out at The Green Leaf, a vegetarian buffet.
I drove the Mercury to school for a bit before I dropped out. I always kept the windows rolled down to try to get rid of the stink that was still lingering in the car. I bought a box of incense and put them all in a beer mug and lit them in the backseat with the windows up. The car just smelled like dead pig and hippy after.
At a gas station I bought every single scent of car air freshener they had. Coconut, orange, new car, pine tree, piña colada, pine apple, green apple, apple cinnamon, grape, root beer float. I opened every package and dumped all of the car air fresheners in the back seat and parked in the driveway at my dad's house and hoped the sun would blaze through the back window and mask the pig stink. The Mercury kind of smelled like fruit-loops for a couple of days then all I smell was the ungulate genocide.
My dad didn't seem to care when I told him that I had dropped out of school. I asked if I could use the tent to go camping for the weekend. He told me to remember to take the tarp in case it rains because the tent leaks. I didn't take either and drove to the campground outside of town. The behemoth motorhome I drove behind on the way hogged the road all the way there. In the camping spot I paid for I thought to myself that I should have taken the tent and tarp with me. It'll look totally sus if my dad or his then-girlfriend see it in the garage if they needed the hacksaw to wrestle up dinner on the weekend.
I shut the car off and got out. Unscrewed the license plate and shoved it in my jacket. I tried to hitch hike back to town. No one would pull over to pick me up. I chucked the plate in the ditch. The truck stop on the side of the highway at the edge of town was open 24 hours. I had vegetarian chili and cup after cup of coffee until I didn't feel like being in their with the haggard old waitresses and the rig-pigs flirting with them in the restaurant.
Over the weekend I slept in the field behind the truck stop and ate more vegetarian chili. When I got back to my dad's house the Mercury was in the driveway. I'd never really had to lie to my dad before, most of the time he was pretty nonchalant about anything I chose to do. I told him I got trashed off Jagermeister and woke up in the field behind the truck stop and didn't see the Mercury at the campground. My dad was pissed that he had to pay the impound fee. I felt so guilty and told him I'd get a job to pay him back.
A week later I started working at The Green Leaf. All the flakey free spirit type people that ate and worked there made displeasing comments about the Mercury. After a month I had made enough money to pay my dad back. He wouldn't take the money. He told me People make mistakes, you're young, as long as you learned something. Nothing happened to the car.
After work one night I was driving the Stink-mobile around downtown. It was a Friday night and people my age and a bit older were coming in and out of bars. I found a parking lot and parked the Mercury beside the doucheyist most expensive car I had ever seen. Sitting on the hood of the Mercury staring off into space until I saw two boys, maybe a few years older than me. Popped collars on their dress shirts and jeans that would have cost me a paycheque from The Green Leaf. When they got to their car I asked Wanna race for pink slips? They both laughed and one said Who even does that, this isn't the '50s. I said to them, You do or you don't?
We agreed that whoever got up to Sugar Mountain first won, though I don't think either one of them were convinced we were actually betting on ownership of each other's cars. Our engines revved while one of the boys was in front, between our cars with his hand raised. He dropped his arm and his friend sped off, all the way up to the top of Sugar Mountain. I just shut off the ignition and sat in the Mercury. I grabbed all the papers out of the glove box and douche-on-wheels came zipping back down to meet me. He got out of his car Alright, pig, gimme your pink slips. I tossed them on the seat of the Mercury and he got in and started it up and started laughing like a hyena.
The other boy sat on the hood of the winning car while the winner started doing donuts, circling around his car. I saw red and blue lights coming towards us and scurried off into the woods. I climbed up a tree in the dark and watched the two boys get put in the back seat of the cop car. Two different tow trucks came and I watched them tow the Mercury and douche-cruiser away. On my walk home I thought it was best to play dumb. Tell my dad that I thought he came and picked up the car while I was at work or something.
My dad wasn't stupid, he knew something was up but didn't know what exactly. I kept on working at The Green Leaf since I had nothing better to do. Another month flew by driving the car to and from work and the smell just never left.
Two free-spirits that work at The Green Leaf called in sick and I covered for them, pulling a fifteen hour shift. I feel like quitting my job. My dad wouldn't care. We still had a carcass or two in the freezer so feeding me wasn't a problem. I drove around town for a while with the windows down even though the night air was chilly. Crossing the railroad tracks I had dreams of parking the Mercury on the tracks and waiting for a train to come by. That would crush my dad's spirit more than it crushed the car. On the other side of the tracks there was a storage rental place. All it was, was a chain linked fence with razor wire surrounding converted train cars.
On my day off I drove back to the storage unit rental place. When I got up to the fence a monstrous dog came running at me with its jaws like a bear trap covered in saliva. A voice told the creature to sit and it obeyed. The man on the other side of the fence asked if they could help me and I asked about renting a storage unit for the Mercury. It would cost me a hundred bucks a month to store the car there. Which was a good chunk out of my paycheque.
My dad reported the Mercury stolen and I still work at The Green Leaf to pay the for storage unit.
R. Keith is a persona that works with poetics, fiction, visuals.
Currently he is publishing one book each month for a year.
Latest books include: 9999 (Cajun Mutt Press), Plangent, The book of (Alien Buddha Press), a polemic study of negative space (Ma Press), FLOP (Rust Belt Press) His visual art has been presented in galleries in Canada, Malta, and Russia.