Kaya, Part 1


The interstate was jammed with broken heroes, or at least that was the track that my father hummed along with as he maneuvered the Subaru up the onramp. Maneuver might be too generous, or too precise, because of his imprecision, which arose with the euphoric haze that the little pills kindled in him. I’d learned to white knuckle the armrest and speak loudly and suddenly—about anything that came to mind—when I suspected he might be dozing or spacing. I knew I shouldn’t let him drive and I knew that his ego wasn’t ready for the damage that announcement would cause. So I buckled up and gripped leather.


Mount Vernon sits 90 miles or so north of Seattle and there was occasion for me to wince through the outer bands of Seattle and then through the basket of Skagit Farmland. Dad was elated at this excursion, a real-deal father and son kind of outing that he could manage—since his nine story plunge from a cliff in Costa Rica, and the seven surgeries, the hardware screwed into his spine and ankles, he wasn’t going to be leading me on any hikes or to throw the football. But he could, he was sure, navigate us an hour and a half north to get me a golden retriever puppy before I returned to my last year of college.


In the backyard of the down-low breeders’ property, a gorgeous and frantic red-coated golden sprinted on a cable run, back and forth, back and forth, barking a metronome that was equal parts joyous and desperate. At the base of a crooked staircase, the two runts (two of eleven) tumbled—the boy was lazy and tubby and mellow; the girl was fierce and enervated, nipping her brother from five angles as he pawed at the cobalt blue sky with a tiny tongue poking sideways. I gathered up the female in my arms and she chomped at my ear and scrambled to escape with nails as sharp as her teeth and I pressed my nose into her fur and nodded at my cane-propped father, who fumbled three Benjamins out of his front pocket. The dog behaved much better for him—even snuggling into a brief snoring spell in his lap—as I drove us decisively and fast, back to the city as the sun clawed at the sky in death.

Speak Your Mind