allowed to bring one friend to his grandmother's eighty-third
birthday party. They would be dining at Poochy's Buffet, an
all-you-can-eat joint with steaks and baked potatoes cooked to
order. But first, his dad had to get the car started. It was the
middle of winter, and the family's 1985 Cutlas Supreme wasn't
looking too good. Luckily, Brandon chose the right friend to
accompany them: Zachary Snugglechuck.
DAD: ...Start! ...Start!
MOM: Yelling won't make the car start, dear.
DAD: Carol, I swear to God if you don't shut up I'm going to
staple your lips together.
DAD: Brandon, play your Gameboy.
about this, Zachary. My dad gets crazy on holidays and
Snugglechuck was an extremely compact and almost comatose
12-year-old boy, whose size 3 shoes dangled from every chair he got
on. His eyelids were slack and his tiny hands were turned palms-up
and resting on his knees. He wore a bright red baseball cap and a
brown vest with an embroidered "Z" on the left
BRANDON: Hey dad, Zachary is pretty good with stuff like this. Maybe
he could take a look under the hood. Will you, Zachary?
BRANDON: He wouldn't mind, dad.
Dad laughed and
dragged his shaky hand across his face.
DAD: Be my guest.
Dad popped the
hood, and Zachary and Brandon got out of the car. They looked at the
motor. Zachary touched it with the tip of his finger and quietly
said, "Try it now."
BRANDON: Try it
DAD: Nope! What else ya got?!
another part of the motor with the tip of his finger and said, "Try it now."
BRANDON: He says try it now, dad!
DAD: Nope! Nothing!
touching various parts of the engine with the tip of his finger but
nothing ever happened. They got back in the car. Brandon shut his
door and got comfortable.
sorry dad. I thought he could fix it.
Dad inhaled deeply.
He tightened his grip on the steering wheel.
DAD: Okay... everybody out. We're walking to Poochy's Buffet.
MOM: We can't walk there! It's a 25 minute drive, for
DAD: Then it should only take us a few hours if we hurry. I'm
not missing my mother's eighty-third. I understand why you don't want to go, though.
love your mother! You didn't even know it was her birthday until I
reminded you this morning!
DAD: Bundle up, kids. It's very cold. And the wind is whipping.
MOM: You kids go inside.
DAD: Do not go inside that house, kids.
Dad's hand went
under the driver's seat and came out with a single-action Colt 44
DAD: We're going to see Grandma.
Brandon and Mom
screamed. Dad fired several rounds through the roof of the car and
the screaming stopped. Birds chirped. Daylight shined through the
bullet holes and smoke from the gun twisted around in skinny
ribbons. Zachary's Bugle Boy shorts were visibly soiled at the
sides, but his expression was stoic and he hadn't moved an inch
since returning to the car.
DAD: Brandon... will you ask your friend if he pooped on my
URGENTLY]: Did you poop, bud?