Excerpt from Things Go Flying
“When I get my G1, you have to let me drive all the time,” Dylan said from the back seat of the mid-sized sedan that was their sole family vehicle.
“As if,” John said, driving a little too fast and with a little too much flourish, but not quite fast enough or with sufficient flourish to make an issue of it, Audrey decided. Besides which, they were running almost ten minutes late due to the fact, unforeseen by her, that they would have to get gas.
That was John’s fault. He’d used the car last. She couldn’t be expected to keep track of everything.
Family car rides could be stressful for Audrey. The forced proximity created its own tension, there was John’s driving—and then there was everyone else on the road. This was Toronto, after all, on a Saturday afternoon, and half the drivers out there were pissed off about something. And the other half were late, like them.
“Turn here,” Audrey said, pointing to the entrance to the funeral home. But the parking lot was already full. They had to cruise around the block, and it was another excruciating five minutes as John stubbornly tried to parallel park on the street, although he hadn’t got the hang of it yet, and the space was tight, and other drivers honked him, impatient to get by in both directions.
Doggedly, he kept trying, face tight with concentration, pulling the nose of the car up alongside again, trying to get the angle right, cutting it too shallow, then overcorrecting and cutting it too deep—holding up traffic—and turning red while Dylan sniggered from the back seat.
John pulled aggressively up alongside again and made another attempt.
“Way to go,” Dylan scoffed as John soundly bumped the parked car behind.
“Fuck off.” It was a warm, sunny, late September day, and John was sweating in his new dark suit.
“Hey,” Harold said, galvanized by the bad language.
John’s temper began to get the better of him, and he hit the bumper of the car in front, too.
“Jesus!” Harold said.
“Good enough,” Audrey said, opening her passenger side door. It was probably three feet to the sidewalk. Dylan opened his too, and said, “That’s okay, we can walk to the curb from here.”
Why couldn’t Dylan ever leave it alone? Audrey thought.
“You’re so original,” John said, trying to be scathing. But he was miserable, slamming the car door, shrugging self-consciously inside his damp suit. Suddenly, he crossed the street and walked rapidly away, down the residential block toward the funeral home, without looking back.
What a good-looking boy, Audrey thought, watching him go.
“What the hell is he doing?” Harold said.
He’d wanted his sons to come to the funeral. He was proud of them. They were his sons. There would probably be people here he hadn’t seen in years. But if John were going to embarrass him, it would have been better if he’d stayed at home.“Did you have to be such a smartass?” Audrey said to Dylan, as the three of them crossed the street and began walking down the sidewalk behind John, who was now far ahead.
Harold said, “How many other families come in the same car to a funeral and arrive separately?”
But it began to look like Harold was putting too positive a spin on things. With disbelief, they watched John reach the main road, but instead of turning to his right toward the funeral home, or waiting for them, he jay-walked across traffic and carried on up the street.
He’d blown them off. Harold couldn’t believe it. The three of them stopped at the corner, watching after John, Harold with his mouth hanging halfway open.“He’ll come back,” Audrey said, wanting to comfort Harold, but realizing as she said it that she had no idea what their son was going to do. To her intense annoyance, Dylan looked impressed.