Every summer Hick resents our vacation from school. He leaves chores for all of us, like he's in charge around here. We go through the motions.
The Pony, on goat-herding duty every morning, finds ways to shave an hour into 15 minutes if he's feeling cantankerous. Or he waits until afternoon when the skies cloud up, and says, "We can tell Dad it rained, so I didn't let them out today." The goats are not being harmed. They have acres of fenced pen, and receive hay and goat chow every evening.
My chore for today was to send in Hick's passport for renewal. Because he has been forgetting since April, when he got a new photo. I was reading through the five pages of printout he left me with instructions when the phone rang. It was Genius.
"Can you come pick me up at the bowling alley?"
Believe me, he was not bowling. Saturday afternoon leagues are over. The bowling alley is not even open on Wednesday mornings. And Genius had been fulfilling his duty of hauling a load of gravel for Hick. So now he was at the bowling alley with Hick's truck, and a long-bed full of 2-inch clean.
''Are you all right? Why are you at the bowling alley?"
"I HAVE NO BRAKES!"
"I'll be right there."
Yes, only Hick would send his 18-year-old son with $20 to buy a truckload of gravel in a 4WD Ford 250 Extended Cab with bad brakes. I have not liked that truck since he bought it. Not like I drive it regularly. It's been years. But when we had vehicle problems, or when the power was out and I couldn't get my car out of the garage, I drove it. It always felt like it was running away with me. I used to have dreams about driving it with no brakes.
According to Genius, even the emergency brake lost function. From the looks of the gravel up on the metal toolbox, against the back window, and more gravel over the tailgate on the bumper, I'd say some rock was flung today, in reckless abandon.
Even Steven has either staged a reckoning, or is planning one. The Pony went to eat his lunch today, a lunch planned since this morning, of a bowl of cereal, and found that the cupboard was bare of his box. From which he had eaten only one bowl since purchase. The whole time we were in town, when I asked both boys several times if they wanted to pick up something for lunch, The Pony said, "No. I'm having cereal, remember?" I asked Genius why he didn't let us know that he had eaten it. So we could have gotten more while in town. Or something else for lunch.
"I really wasn't even listing to either of you."
No cereal. No brakes. Even Steven is a harsh taskmaster. Genius had better be hoping that his Stevening is still being planned. That the brakes were the initiating factor, and that something good lies on the horizon.