My conversation with Salazin brought creeping memories of conversations with Dad. I played the part of Salazin, then, bearing good news. Dad was the skeptic.
It was about his new truck. I’d made my first million, thanks to Salazin. Dad was retired from the military, paying the mortgage, working two jobs, and driving a Chevy pick-up that leaned to the left when it was going straight. The engine sounded okay, but its interior was squalid. Dings and scratches pockmarked its blue and white body. It seemed like it always needed new tires, too.
So, hey, wouldn’t it be nice of me to buy Dad a new, loaded truck?
Do y’a think?
Proud and excited, I went to his house and was there when the new Dodge truck was delivered. “Come on, Dad,” I said when the truck pulled up. “I bought you something.”
Mom was looking out the window and talking about, who was that? Realization struck her. Her blue eyes went wide.
Dad isn’t dumb. Hearing the noise, he’d probably begun to guess what was going on. He was reading his Sports Illustrated. He didn’t move.
“Dad?” I said.
“In a minute,” he said without looking up.
Mom gave him a look. Then she looked looked at me with a weary head shake of frowns and an eye-roll.
“Your son brought you a gift,” Mom said.
Dad kept reading.
Mom said to me, “Let’s go outside.”
We went out. She asked questions. Her reaction pleased me. “He’ll really like it,” she said as she walked around the truck. She didn’t sound convinced. “He might not show it, but he’s really proud and impressed by what you accomplished.”
Sure. Dad was suspicious about my wealth. He didn’t buy the story of Salazin’s stock picks at all. He was certain I was doing something illegal like selling drugs, I guess.
I’d also bought a vehicle for Mom, a Cadillac. She was still driving this ginormous Olds Tornado. Red with a white Landau roof, I swear the front end was in a different time zone from the rear. It got terrible gas mileage and bounced along the highway in search of new shocks.
Her Cadillac was arriving now. “Here’s your car, Mom,” I said.
Gasping and smiling, she turned and hugged and kissed me, saying, “Thank you, thank you, but you didn’t have to do that,” as Dad finally emerged from the house.
Magazine in hand, he stood on the porch looking at the scene. He looked like he was chewing something. He looked at the Caddy first. Then he looked at the truck.
“It’s American,” I said, to point it out. Because of Grandpa Diehl and World War Two, Dad didn’t like buying anything from the Japanese, Italians, and Germans, especially a “big ticket” item like a truck or car.
“Who’s that for?” he asked, looking at the Caddy.
“It’s for me,” Mom said. “Look what your son bought me. And he bought you a truck. Come and look at it.”
“I’ll look at it later,” Dad said. “Thanks.”
He turned and returned to the house.
I felt crushed. As Mom tried softening the blow wtih soft touches and words, I said, “It’s a good fucking thing I didn’t buy you a new house, like I was going to.”
She said, “I like this house.”
She looked at her blue and brick ranch house. “I wouldn’t mind a new house.”
Smiling at me, she said, “But we’d better talk about it a while, first, okay?”
I didn’t answer. I never did buy them a new house, but I bought Mom a new townhouse after Dad died.