God Drives by Stephen V. Ramey
“Well, that stinks,” Abercrombie states. He’s trying to set a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, Hot Wheels not the real thing, onto a roadway jammed with idling cars, trucks, fire engines, dragsters and Weeble hybrids.
“Told you so,” Caroline says, showing the smug girl-knows-best smile she’s lifted from her mother’s arsenal for play date.
“Splat her,” Jeremy splutters. Jeremy is Abercrombie’s little brother, the one in the pull-ups sitting at the far corner of the board. He bows down onto his hands to get a kid’s eye view.
“Apple butt,” he says in all sincerity. His parents brag he’s precocious. They’re not really sure what that means. They’ll later claim he was reading by the age of two. They probably should have paid better attention to what he was reading.
“Lick slit,” he adds.
“Shut up, Jeremy.” Abercrombie sets the VW on a square beside the road. It’s drawn in purple crayon.
“Hey,” Caroline says, “that’s the bank!”
“They tore it down,” Abercrombie says. “Turned it into a parking lot.”
Jeremy reaches for the VW. Abercrombie slaps his hand, a sound that echoes through the playroom like, well, like a slap.
“Mommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeee!” Jeremy screams.
Caroline makes no move to console him. She has her own little brother to deal with back home.
Abercrombie’s Mom, a mid-forties gal with orange lipstick and a daisy threaded into her hair, looks in the open doorway.
“What’s this all about?” Her eyes are just a little glazed, her words just a little slurred.
“Jeremy won’t leave our cars alone,” Abercrombie says. Caroline nods her support.
“Indigenous carpenter,” Jeremy says. Mom grins at that. Who wouldn’t?
“Whyn’t you give him a car of his own?” she says. “Looks like you have plenty.”
“That would spoil everything, Mrs. Finch,” Caroline says. “We’re playing real town and Jeremy is supposed to be God.”
“God,” Abercrombie says, “does not drive a car.”
Mom laughs. “Give ‘im a truck.” And she’s gone back to wherever moms go.
The room turns silent while Abercrombie and Caroline try to sort out the edict. Jeremy takes matters into his own hands — he is God, after all — and snatches up a milk truck.
“Dog style,” he says, pushing the engine end of it between his plump lips. One can only wonder what the imaginary occupant must think.
“Well, it does open up a spot on the road,” Caroline says.
Abercrombie nods. In short order, the VW finds itself stuck in traffic after all.
“God works in mysterious ways,” he says with a sharp laugh.
As if that were some cosmic cue, Jeremy claps. A sound like thunder shakes the room, the house, time itself.
“This sucks!” Abercrombie pounds the steering column. He stares at the back of a delivery truck. Presumably there’s an endless line of traffic ahead of it since it hasn’t moved.
In the passenger seat, Caroline leans against the door. She’s had her hair done recently. The heat inside their car is making a mess of it. It’s also amplifying the urine smell from the back seat.
“Can’t you do something about your brother?” she says.
Abercrombie looks to the rearview. Behind them, Jeremy lays on the bench seat. Though he’s younger than Abercrombie, he looks like a
wrinkled old man. The doctors have been unable to diagnose the condition. That’s where they’re headed now, to an appointment with an
endocrine specialist in the city.
Abercrombie sighs. The oddest sensation comes over him, a sort of déjà vu.
“It seems like yesterday we were playing cars with him.”
Caroline blinks. “It does, doesn’t it? Not even yesterday, actually.”
“Strange how the mind works,” Abercrombie says.
“Will this traffic never end?” Caroline opens her window even though it’s probably hotter outside than in. Jeremy groans behind them.
A clap of thunder and it’s suddenly raining, a pattering flow that smears the windshield. Caroline buzzes up her window.
“Have you ever seen such a sudden downpour?” she says, eyes wide. A smell like curdled cheese permeates the cabin.
“Milk,” Jeremy mutters from the back.
“At least the traffic’s moving again.” Abercrombie releases the brake pedal; they coast into the spluttering mouth of the storm.
Stephen V. Ramey’s work has appeared in various places, most recently in flashquake and Eschatology. He lives in beautiful New Castle Pennsylvania, fireworks capital of the world where any excuse to set the sky ablaze will do.