’72 Skylark, 10

“What do you mean?” she asks.

“Your dad had a whole collection of cars, right?” I sidle closer, slumping my elbow toward her drink. I want her to think that I think I’m being clever enough to be seductive. “Your brother manages to take everything, which means all the other cars, but not that car?”

Miriam smiles and stares into her scotch as she drinks, but she says nothing. It’s working.

“What’s so special about that one?” I ask.

“Nothing,” she says. “It’s what’s inside the car that’s special. My father left… something in the trunk for me.”

Bingo. I feel a twinge of thrill and regret at the same time. The latter surprises me. Shouldn’t have let her talk about my sob story, damn it. We’ve been talking for, what, ten minutes? Twenty minutes? No connection; just trying to get to the part where I get paid. “And you’re giving what your father gave you back to your brother?”

She shakes her head and begins to slide a finger around the rim of her glass. “My brother has always been hateful. He stole Barbies from me when we were children. Not to play with–he’d just hide them from me, laugh at me as I cried. I was older than him; I figured he’d grow out of it, but he never did.”

“People don’t,” I say, but I catch myself from saying anything else. Let her talk.

“He wants everything. I’m only now realizing it’d be easier just to let him have it.” She finishes off her drink in a single, final swallow. “But I don’t have to give him what he doesn’t know about. What my father gave me is still in the trunk,” she declares, not realizing that she’s signing off on the final line of her death certificate, “but I’ll be taking that with me. He just gets the car.”

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