Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No Right Turn - booktalk

by Terry Trueman

My father committed suicide. The shot wasn’t that loud, really, just one pop, not even as loud as a big firecracker, but I knew instantly what it was, and I ran downstairs. I saw my father sitting there with the bullet in his head. I called 911. Then I gave CPR to a dead man. Now, three years later, it’s like I died that day, too. I don’t talk to anyone, and nobody talks to me. I go to school and come home, but nothing seems real. Nothing matters. My life is just me and my mom. And that’s fine with me. I thought she was fine with it, too, until she started dating Don, the guy who just moved in down the street. What do we need him around for?

Don has a Corvette. I’m not a gearhead, but this car is sweet, It’s a 1976 model, low to the ground, with high curved fenders and a custom paint job: white on top and blue-green all along the lower section. The windows are tinted, and the tires are big, with bright chrome hubs. It’s sleek, powerful, and man, is it fast. Riding in the Stingray is like being strapped on the back of an oversized cheetah. It feels like it’s taking us for a ride, not the other way around. The rush is incredible: the rumble of the engine, the deep vibration. Soon we’re going over 100 mph. Then Don lets me drive. Let me tell you, it’s nothing like driving my mother’s Honda. When we finally get back to Don’s, I know I have to drive this car again. I have to.

Don’s out of town every Wednesday. If there’s ever a fire, the car’s what Don will save, and he doesn’t want to waste time searching for his keys. So he leaves them in the ignition. I know the code to his garage door. It’s like he’s practically inviting me to take the car for a ride. So I do. Every Wednesday night, that car and I have a date. I take it out to where the streets are straight and quiet, and I floor that pedal. Don installed a nitrous oxide system, so now it has even more horsepower. Geez, that baby flies! Or sometimes I drive around town, because what good is it if you never get to see people turn a little green when they see you behind the wheel of a ‘Vette? That’s how I meet Becka Thorson, the most gorgeous girl in the world. She thinks the car is mine. And she likes me. Or maybe she just likes the ‘Vette. I don’t know. As long as she’s sitting next to me, I don’t really care.

If I get caught, my mother will kill me. Becka won’t trust me. I don’t know what Don will do. But I know what the police will do. They’ll charge me with grand theft auto. But after three years of feeling as dead as my father, I’m finally feeling alive again. It’s worth the risk.

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