Flat Tire, Flat Spare

He twisted his tongue—flipping it over, forcing it steady with his teeth, exposing the underside large vein. Thick would be the word to describe it. Thick would also describe his way of speaking. Adding the word “–headed” to the end of the word thick and you have his demeanor. But for now, his teeth bite into his tongue, playfully, holding it in an upside-down awkward position while he walked along the edge of the highway in the desert heat.

A pop. A swerve. A perfect song for driving. He slowed his singing and his car. Reduced the volume of his voice and the radio at the same time. He could hear it clearly, now.

Flip. Flap. Flip. Flap. Fli…Fla…Fli…flap. Flap.

The car came to a stop in the loose gravel at the side of the road. No need to put the hood up. He knew what it was and walked to the trunk immediately. He went back to the driver’s door reached in, searching for the lever–the release. He pulled and the hood popped up. Wrong one.

He placed the stuffed cat in the dirt next to the car as he emptied the trunk. A stuffed squirrel lay on its side near the baby alligator skull, to the left of the old suitcase with all the decals of national parks and faraway places, and just behind the mounted butterfly with the name he can’t remember. He lifted the door to the hidden compartment.

A jack, a tire iron, and a strangely small tire with a yellow stripe painted across the black rim.

The yellow stripes on the black asphalt seemed to collide in the distance, diminishing. A perfect song for driving…

“Life in the Vaseline,” he sings and smiles and thinks about his old friend Greg.


(Note: Thanks John for the title)