The man pulled hard on the last tie-down and closed the tailgate of the rusting vehicle. The old truck had carried him all over the south west. He even took it to the vineyards up north during the harvest season. He followed the crops… his family followed with him. It is not like they had a choice. He provided. They had eked out an existence here in San Bernardino but that had dwindled away to nothing. He couldn’t get work. Looking at the house, he shrugged. It was run down and virtually uninhabitable. Everything was in disrepair. It remained a “Fixer Upper”. It reminded him of his life. Condemned. Hearing his wife inside, he walked toward the house to help her gather the children together. They would be leaving for Texas. He had a brother there. Work was available. An uncertain future. Why was it always this way? One never knows the answer to such things. The world felt like a million boulders on his tired back. He always felt like he was running behind. His wife continued yelling and scolding the children. Turning away from the front door, we walked around the side of the house to the backyard.
The pool sat there empty. He had entertained dreams of filling it up, his children swimming, brown skin darkening in the California sun. The good husband and father. They would look at him with coal colored eyes and smile… Sitting on the pools edge, he noted the black water and dog shit that littered the deep end and floor of the pool. It reeked. Palm debris sprouted like skinny arms from the dark surface. Broken beer bottles were strewn about. He recalled throwing them in there. He did that often. His wife’s tongue would curl in a venom-laden tirade, “Worthless. Drunken little man. Useless.” He’d sit and drink even more… He heard her again. Her voice a faulty sump pump spewing pool water and filth. Behind him. In the house. The dirty pool stretched out before him just like the nearby freeway. Decision. Defining line. He stood and walked to the truck. Clawing at the keys, he took one last look at his past… and drove off alone. - Ozzie