The Cinderblocks

Driving with Mr. D’Andrew

Mr. D’Andrew pulled up in the Cressida—the car Lizzie has now—wrapped up in coats and scarves and gloves.  A plaid blanket covered his lap.  He tipped over trying to get the door.  His brow knotted and his lips puckered in consternation as he collapsed, face-first, into the vinyl seat.  His cap grazed the dashboard and fell to the floor.

“Dad!” Lizzie’s arm shot out.  Her fingers fanned the window, pressing against the glass.

Mr. D’Andrew heaved himself upright and motioned for one of them to open the door.

Jack stooped and handed Mr. D’Andrew his cap.  Lizzie scrambled into the back, pushed the bucket seat forward, then smiled sweetly at Jack.

“You’re the biology partner, then,” Mr. D’Andrew said.

Jack set his duffle bag between his feet.  “Yes.”  He felt awkward in front, he thought Lizzie should be sitting there, doing the small talk.

“Good to meet you,” Mr. D’Andrew said.

“You, too.”  The heat blasted out of the vents.  It was 90 degrees easy.  Jack unzipped his coat.

Mr. D’Andrew bent forward and felt around under his seat.  The car edged toward the center line.  Jack wondered if he should steer, then Mr. D’Andrew bobbed up, clutching a Thermos.  He set the bottle between his knees and set to work unscrewing the cap with yellow-tipped fingers.

They were approaching a stop sign.  Jack thought about offering to do the thermos or saying something about the sign.  He assumed Mr. D’Andrew was aware of it.  On the other hand, Mr. D’Andrew showed no sign of slowing.

“Dad,” Lizzie said.

“Mr. D’Andrew,” Jack said.

Mr. D’Andrew finished unscrewing the cap.  The car slid past the sign, stopping a few feet into the intersection.  Pale coppery liquid spilled out of the thermos and onto Mr. D’Andrew’s pants.

“Everyone still here?”

“Yes, Dad,” Lizzie said.

“Good.”  Mr. D’Andrew turned to Jack with watery eyes.  “Where is it I’m taking you?”

“He’s going to work,” Lizzie said.

“Right.”

Sweat beaded Jack’s forehead.  He desperately wanted to crack a window.  He had already removed his coat and his sweater.  His shirt would be next.

Mr. D’Andrew poured tea into the plastic thermos cup.  “The tulips will be out soon.  In another month we’ll be planting potatoes, right, Lizzie?”

“Yes,” Lizzie said.

Jack looked over his shoulder.  They still hadn’t moved from the stop sign.  So far no one was behind them.

Mr. D sipped his tea.  The tea smelled pleasant, like leaves in the fall.

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