|Truck of Jim
2009 by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek
A flash of vibrant lightning illuminated the evening sky littered with dark storm clouds. The clouds rumbled together like a fierce lion. The rain began to fall in heavy, pounding sheets, hitting the roof like bullets from unseen rifles. It slipped from the soaked roof, falling down in thick streams and smashing against the newly mowed lawn. Another flash of lightning brought the small house into view. The residing clap of thunder made the house’s occupants jump.
“Isn’t this great?” I whispered, eyes huge with excitement. I glanced across the tiny bedroom at my cousin. Kaya was sitting next to her radio; knees tucked up to her chin. Her eyes were closed, her finger frozen on the radio’s power button.
“No,” she squeaked. “I hate thunder storms. They really freak me out!”
“We can talk about something else, if you want to.” I was secretly wishing that the lights would go out so we could light candles. I had noticed earlier on Kaya’s dresser a pillar candle in a white china holder with painted pink flowers, like something from a child’s tea set.
“How’s your boyfriend?” Kaya questioned, jumping up as another clap of thunder echoed through the mountains behind her house.
I shrugged and picked at the blue lacquer on my thumbnail. Much to my disappointment, Kaya began closing her white Venetian blinds, hiding the lovely storm raging outside.
“What was his name?” she drawled. “Nick? Rick? Hickey?” She giggled, pleased that she’d made some kind of a joke.
“Rich,” I replied. My voice caught and I swallowed hard. “We, um, we actually broke up a few days ago.”
“Oh,” Kaya glanced at me with sympathy painted on her tanned face.
Breaking up with Rich had been hard, so the breakup was a reason why I’d agreed to stay the weekend with Kaya in the country. I also hadn’t seen Kaya for a month, high time for friendly family-bonding.
Suddenly, a smile came to her glossy pink lips. She grabbed the portable phone off her dresser, almost knocking the candle onto the floor. With a joyful laugh, she jumped onto her bed next to me and leaned back against the pillows. “I’m going to play cupid!”
“Matchmaker, like in that movie. There’s this guy, Jim, who’s been helping my dad on the farm. He’s so perfect for you!”
“I don’t know,” I began protesting, but Kaya had already dialed the guy’s number and was asking, “Is Jim there?” After a pause, she squealed.
“Hey-ya, Jim! It’s Kaya! My cousin’s over. She wants to talk to you!” I found the black phone being shoved against my ear. My earring post shoved into my neck.
“Uh, hi,” I muttered. Kaya giggled. There was a long, fuzzy pause over the phone.
A deep, young male’s voice said, “Hi.” There was another long, awkward pause. Thunder sounded outside. Kaya jumped and looked toward her closed windows.
“Jim?” I asked at last. When he didn’t say anything, I tried again for conversation. “I’m Annie, Kaya’s cousin from the city. Your name is Jim, right? Is that short for James?” I pictured Rich on the other phone like I’d done whenever I’d called him or he’d called me. We’d talk for hours, never running out of things to say.
After another fuzzy pause, the guy said, “Jim.”
“How are you?”
“I have a truck,” he answered. He must just be shy, and I was beginning to become wary of the fuzzy crackling over the telephone.
“I have to go,” I told him. “You aren’t supposed to talk on the phone during a storm.”
On the other line there was a click, so I hung up the phone and handed it back to Kaya. “He sounds…nice. I guess.” He didn’t even say goodbye, but maybe the storm had disconnected the lines.
“You can see him tomorrow at the barn,” she proclaimed decidedly.
That was when the power went out and we were plunged into darkness.
Kaya’s immediate scream echoed through the small country house.
“Wait here,” Kaya instructed, leaving me outside the milk house door. “I’ll go get Jim.” She disappeared inside her family’s barn, slamming the rotting door behind her. I shifted uneasily in the hideous green mud boots she’d insisted I wear. Not only were they too big, but they looked horrid with my designer jeans tucked into the tops.
The ground underneath my feet made loud sucking sounds as I moved. It was muddy and soaked from the heavy downpour the night before. Kaya had dragged me down to the barn after the power had gone off last night because a generator was used there. Voila, instant lights.
The milk house door banged opened and Kaya skipped out.
“Jim’s coming,” she announced, and looked hopefully at the door. I held my breath as I heard heavy, clunking footsteps inside drawing nearer. I pictured someone like Rich, a young man who was tall, strong, and had shaggy black hair that hid a single silver earring that his parents had flipped over. A second later, the door opened and a boy stepped out into the morning sunlight. The first thing I noticed was his threadbare shirt that at some point must have been white. The front displayed an image of a green truck.
“This is Jim!” Kaya announced. She playfully punched his arm.
I swallowed hard and tired not to just stare at his white-blonde hair. It was so short. Maybe he’d shaved it and it was just beginning to grow back. I self-consciously touched my curls. “Um, hi ya, Jim.”
“Hey.” He wiped his filthy hands on his torn, stained jeans. I didn’t even want to know what the gooey stuff on his hands really was when just looking at it made my stomach threaten to heave.
“Do you have any pets?” I asked. That always made a pleasant icebreaker.
“Pets?” He cocked his head to one side and spit onto the muddy grass.
“Pets,” I repeated, nodding. “Like a dog or a cat or a guinea pig. You know, pets.”
“Something you take care of.” Exasperated, I tried to think of a better way to explain a pet. Suddenly Jim’s baby-blue eyes lit up with understanding.
“I have a truck!” he announced proudly.
“Are you trying to be funny?”
“I don’t make jokes,” he answered in all sincerity.
“What kind of music do you like?” I tried again for conversation.
Jim shrugged. “Russian music.”
I was impressed. Maybe he could teach me! “Cool!”
“That singer who came from Russia,” Jim continued. I frowned. He didn’t like music in Russian; he liked singers that were from Russia. “What’s her name? Ana? Yeah, it’s Ana. Oh, wait, no, she’s from Spain, not Russia.” He shrugged. “Same thing.”
The countries of Russia and Spain are not the same thing!
“I listen to it in my truck,” he finished.
“Jim’s never had a girlfriend,” Kaya whispered to me.
A blue pickup truck pulled up into the barnyard and another teenager got out. He waved at us as he passed, pausing outside the door to fix his camouflage cap.
“That’s Justin,” Kaya whispered. “I’ll be right back.” She followed him inside.
“So, Jim,” I tried once more, “where’s Justin going?”
“That guy who just walked in. Kaya said his name was Justin.”
“Yes, Justin! Where did he go?”
“Is Justin your boyfriend?”
“No. I don’t even know him.”
“Wanna go for a ride in my truck?” he asked excitedly.
“No thank you,” I replied sharply.
“It’s a really great truck.”
“I’m sure it is. Where did Justin and Kaya go?”
“Justin, as in your boyfriend? Kaya knows your boyfriend?”
“Justin is not my boyfriend!” I changed the subject, “What are you taking in school this year? Kaya told me you’ll be a senior again.”
Jim frowned for a second, but then he grinned. “I drive my truck to school.”
“No, I mean, are you taking any drama classes or a special science?”
Jim shrugged. “I’m gonna drive my truck to school.”
“Fine, whatever!” I began to open the door to find Kaya. Jim grabbed my arm with his filthy hand. He really needed to wash.
“Do you wanna go for a ride in my truck? I bet your boyfriend Justin doesn’t have a truck!”
“What Justin are you talking about?” I demanded. “The guy who just came here drove a truck!”
“You and that Justin are going out?” Jim asked, gaping.
“No!” I screamed.
“Do you know I have a truck?”
I shoved him away with my fists and began storming back to Kaya’s house. I almost tripped over a can of barn paint. The idea came to me as Jim yelled, “Hey, Annie! Later you have to see my truck!”
I found plastic wrap in Kaya’s kitchen. I spread it over the picnic table in her backyard and found an old paintbrush in her garage. I lugged the red paint up to her house and painted the plastic wrap. I cleaned the brush and put back the paint can.
I found Kaya feeding a baby calf.
“What did you think of Jim?” she asked.
“He likes his truck too much. Speaking of trucks, which one is his?”
“The green one with the deer decal on the back window.”
I ran back outside, located the rusty green truck, and covered the hood with the painted plastic wrap so that it looked as if I’d painted the truck. I wandered back inside.
“Hey, Jim!” I shouted. “Do you like the color red?”
Jim shrugged. “I like trucks.”
I smiled. “I thought so.”
I went back to Kaya’s house to pack. I was planning on going home that night. I had school in the morning. From inside Kaya’s stuffy room, I heard Jim screaming.
A week later, Kaya called at my house.
“Rich and I got back together,” I told her. I left out the part where he almost died laughing when I told him about Jim and his truck.
“Jim’s going to be so disappointed,” Kaya sighed. “Hey, he got you a present. It’s a cute necklace with an adorable charm.”
“Really?” I asked, impressed. “What’s the charm of?”
in the subject line of the message.)
Jordan Story List and Biography