Then came the day I realized I was 45, my dad was almost twice that, and I needed a job. Cash money baby. The folding kind. Not the kind that gets electronically deposited into your account on Friday. No, for that you need to commute and smell nice and tuck in your shirt.
The lifestyle that Polly and I had chosen just wasn’t up for that zeros and one kind of monetary lifestyle.
Polly’s my mule.
Nope, it was all too late in my middle age to get all corporate and so the best thing to be done when it came to the money making department was hitch Polly to her wagon and hit the road in search of a job. Day work. Polishing eggs. Hell, sharpening knives for all I cared.
Just anything but get on the tried and true track of The Responsible American Male. A title that, as I took care of my dad, I figured I’d successfully eluded.
He’d done it. He’d put in his time. Raised the family. And now he was old and I was taking care of him and I couldn’t just run away as whim and money hunger dictated. Okay. He had good home care.
So I called Ronald. Told him I needed to use his old wagon. Maybe Buddy.
Buddy. The mule. Give Polly some company.
Ronalds old wagon was one of those clapped out field wagons that should have graces his front yard. Spent its retirmemt years growing annuals. Not pereniallas. ‘cause the current year was always its last. The oen where the wood wheels finally gave way. The spokes crumbled. The rims spun off int he grass. The wagon bed, rotten and tired like a back gets after 100 years, sags. Then snaps.
But no. Ronald had stored the old wagon in his barn for One Day and when I informed him One Day had come I could tell he was excirted and the next day we rolled the wagon from its resting place in the shed.
The top was torn and we fixed that with a bed sheet that smelled of mouse piss and a tarp. On the side I painted “Seek Work”. Hitched Polly and Buddy to the shafts and rattled out of his driveway wondering if the contraption would collapse, like I envisioned, by the planter by the mailbox.
This was how I’d cope with my aging dad. I’d take short trips into North Carolina. Do odd jobs. But I’d be in touch with dad. Keep my cell phone on. Just in case he had to go the the ER. If the call came I could rush back to his side. Keep him from being admitted to whatever hospital was trying to meet their ER to Admissions ratio. Then I’d get back on the road.
That was the plan and then the wheel collapsed.