There are little sobbing people upstairs, red in the cheeks from this lingering cold, both whining and in need of a bath. It is a big needs day, but after so many of them in a row I have to escape to the dungeon. Under the guise of laundry I sit down here in the basement, I found a pen over there and a piece of cardboard over here and I don’t know what I am going to do with it except decorate the blank space.

I stand among the garden tools, cat box, dust and dirty laundry, looking for clothespins, grooming the family clothing., thinking about writing, thinking abut crushes, thinking about writing about crushes. I write on a stack of boxes, standing up, a flurry of hand cramping squiggles. Seems since I got this new computer (my very first), that I never do the longhand thing. And now my thumb is hurting pretty badly.

I can hear my husband reading to the kids, committing to each character, allowing me some time to myself.

Oh, but wait! I am summoned. The guy from the salvage yard is here to pay us thirty-five dollars for our old car. I pat Katie’s head while we stand in the window, her voice is kind of sad when she says. “Mommy, that’s our car.” I don’t answer, not expecting to feel anything, it is just a car after all. My husband deals with the whole thing. An acrobatic tow truck guy hooks it all up, crawling around the hood, checking the interior (finding our missing vice-grips, but not the screwdriver we used to start the car). Jay is mopey looking.

While we are watching the driver tow the car away I notice a dead rat on the sidewalk, frozen in a furry coma. The porch is rotten looking, the sky is gray and heavy, and the trees poke the sky with cold bony fingers. Jay scoops the rat up with a discarded butter tub he finds in the alley. Inside there are dishes to do, little plastic toys to pick off the floor and diapers to change. I can not escape the general funk and disorder.

I put on the Bar-Kays, which makes it better immediately. I dedicate “Son of Shaft” to you, 1979 Pontiac Bonneville, a.k.a. The Bro-ham. The smoothest, largest car I have ever owned, with your roomy interior and cloth seats smelling of old smoke and fry grease. You will always be fondly remembered, right up to the part about the engine blowing up. I will miss you, party barge.

Acrobatic tow truck dude assured us you would live on in the form of train wheels. Keep on keepin’ on, Bro-ham.