Suddenly, there was a honk outside my window. It rang to the tune of “Dixie”
“Peaches!”, yelled Charlie, and I looked over the railing to see his beaming face, covered in dried tomato sauce. Charlie could be cute sometimes. ““Remember, Billy the native, who lives on a reserve, we used to go fishing with in his hand carved canoe, you know, the native, who lives off the land and survives for himself and stays away from our people?”
“Yes, Dad,” the tone of my voice could not hide my all American girl rolled eyes. Billy. The whole prospect of Billy made me think back to some of the worst days of my childhood, when Dad would take me fishing and try to spend time with me. I nearly gagged.
“Well, the good news”, said Charlie, clearly unable to hide his excitement, “is that Billy's in a wheelchair!”
“Really?”, I squealed.
“Yes! But the news gets better!”
“What could it be?”
“Well, since Billy has no legs and his life’s pretty much kaput, he didn’t need his vehicle anymore so….”
“You bought me a Volvo, Dad? Is it a Volvo?” I felt tingly like I was climbing rope in gym class and was of course, instantly ashamed.
“Well, hold your horses, Clementine, I didn’t exactly buy you a Volvo. Even better! Billy couldn’t afford a wheelchair and he sure needed one, so I got your ole Granny’s wheelchair and made a fair and decent trade.”
“Dad”, I was struggling to conceal my rage, “I don’t care what kind of power brokering you’re doing with the Indians. That’s your business. Is it a Volvo?”
Without waiting for an answer, I stormed past him. I hardly noticed Billy there in the wooden wheelchair my Granny had died in, chomping on his bannock and silently whiddling away at a miniature totem pole . Instead I stared at the vehicle my father had dared to purchase for me.
It was a solid vehicle, one of those tough steel types that could withstand any type of physical damage. I hoped I’d one day meet a man like that to protect me from everything, while I preserved my independence.
It was a 1969 Charger, painted an orange I’d never seen before. A colour the cross between the inside of a watermelon and daffodil. Between a fire engine and a lemon. Maybe a better description would be a combination of blood and a full moon. Who knows? Was that a confederate flag on the top? And little “01”s on the side.
“Is that the General Lee, Dad?”, I shrieked, clasping my hands in delight.
“Well, not the original, honey, but Billy sure put a lot of money and time into building it before losing his wife and his legs to cancer.”
“Gee, thanks, Dad!” I gave Dad the hugs he deserved for buying me things.
Billy raised his hands to welcome me back and say a few words but by that time we were already in the house to get ready for bed.