The Red Chevy

Mom died last year. I have a lot of wonderful memories of my mother. She was a great person. My mom didn’t have a mean song in her repertoire. I always felt like I had to keep her safe and protect her. I remember when I was in the sixth grade, when she came to pick me up from school. Usually I took the bus, but on that day, Mom was taking me to do some clothes shopping. She drove me to clothes store and parked. Next to her car was a red ’57 Chevy Bel Air. It had special chrome wheels and a custom candy apple red paint job, and I had seen the car before. I’d seen it parked in front of a house at the corner of Mulberry and Fairview.

The one-story house was a wreck, but the car was gorgeous. The owner kept the Chevy parked in the driveway at all times. He let the weeds grow in flowerbeds, and there were always empty beer bottles littered on the unkempt front lawn. But the car was always there, polished and glistening in the sunlight. Anyway, in front of the clothing store that day, the Chevy was parked next to us. Mom swung her door open to get out, and her door bumped into the side of the Chevy. Unfortunately for my mom, the owner of the car was standing just several feet away with a group of his friends.

The owner of the red Chevy was a rough looking young man in jeans, a white T-shirt, and motorcycle boots. He was smoking a cigarette, and when mom bumped his car, he flicked the cigarette away and walked toward her. “What the hell?” he said. “You moron. Do you see what you did? You hit my car with your door.” Mom immediately closed her door and examined the side of the guy’s car. “I hope you have good insurance,” the guy said, and now he was examining the side of his precious car along with my mom. Mom touched the side of his car with her finger and said, “It doesn’t look like I did any damage.” “You’re a fucking idiot,” the guy barked. “What is wrong with you? Don’t you know how to open a car door? Some of us care about our cars.”

Mom said she was sorry. “Jesus, you’re as dumb as you look,” the guy said. “I ought to kick your fat ass.” Mom apologized again, but the guy ignored her. Mom then closed her car door, and the two of us walked carefully into the clothing store. I could see the guy glaring at us through the storefront window. He was still standing on the sidewalk with his buddies. Suddenly they were laughing, probably about the rude things that the guy had said to my mom. I heard one of them say, “Did you see her face?” Then the guy lit a fresh cigarette and blew the smoke up into the air.

“Don’t look at them,” my mom said. She took hold my arm and pulled me away from the window and deeper into the store. I noticed that her hand was trembling. I’d never seen my mom frightened like this before, but she was definitely afraid of the guy and his tough looking friends. And I was suddenly furious! It wasn’t right! How dare that rat talk to my mom like that. I was just a lame kid, and there was nothing I could do about it. Not then and there. Mom was a nervous wreck the entire time we shopped for my clothes, and even when she was paying the cashier, her hands were still shaking.

Lucky for us, the guy and his friends were gone when we walked out of the store, and so was the red Chevy. “They’re gone,” Mom said with a sigh of relief, and I said, “That guy was a jerk.” Mom looked at me and said, “Don’t tell your dad about any of this. Just forget about it. It never happened.” I said okay, but I didn’t mean it. I mean, I didn’t plan to tell Dad anything about what had happened, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to forget about it. I would get even. I was furious about the way the guy had belittled my mom, and yes, I would make things right.

If you’re a male, maybe you understand. Young boys often feel very protective of their mothers. I could not fathom allowing that creep’s behavior to go unpunished. I had to get even. It was my duty to get back at him. Like I said earlier, I knew exactly where this jerk lived – at that eyesore of a house where Mulberry and Fairview crossed. It was about a mile from our own house, and the guy’s precious car was almost always parked in the driveway. The fancy red Chevy! Three days following the incident with my mother, I went through with my plan.

I set my alarm for three in the morning, and I got out of bed. I dressed in black, and I wore a black knit cap to hide my blonde hair. Then I got my baseball bat out of my closet and made my way out. It was a mile to the house, so it took me a while to walk there. There were no cars on the street. It was like I had the whole neighborhood to myself. When I arrived at the guy’s house, I stared at the Chevy for a moment. Then I looked around, to be sure no one was watching. I could hear a mocking bird in the distance, but that was the only sound. I held the bat over my shoulder, getting ready to let it fly.

I swung hard at the Chevy’s taillight, and – crash! – the light was crushed. I took a swing at the other taillight, destroying it, and then I walked to the front of the car. I smashed the two headlights. I swung at the windshield. It didn’t break on the first try, so I swung harder two more times and finally shattered the glass. Then it was the side windows, and the rear window, and finally the side mirror. The mirror went sailing end over end toward the house. The car was now a mess, and the ground was littered with broken glass and plastic.

I had made a lot of noise, and a light in the house turned on. So, I ran like hell. I mean, I ran my tail off. With my bat in hand, I ran all the way home, and by the time I got to our house I was drenched in sweat and gasping for air. I felt like my heart was going to beat up out of my mouth. I made my way into the house and to my bedroom, where I climbed out of my black clothes and put my baseball bat back in the closet. I plopped on the bed, quiet at first, panting and trying to calm down. Then I began to laugh.

No way the guy would ever guess it was me, and that made it even funnier. That all happened a long time ago, and now I’m an adult man. So, what is Mom doing now? She’s up there above the clouds. Do you want to call it heaven? I guess you can if you want. I just happen to think Mom is up there, watching. She keeps an eye on me. And I’ll bet every last penny I have in the bank that she’s now smiling as she reads this. No, she would never approve of what I did, but sure as hell she is smiling.