Frank’s van was a real piece of shit. He’d pick me up in it after school. We’d go for joy rides. Get ice cream and cause trouble until dinner. Once we were way out. Too far from home to walk. Stupid-far.
We stopped for a minute to break windows at an old factory. Kind of place our town hoped to forget. The van wouldn’t start when we it was time to leave. Frank cursed the thing for an hour. It was a toss-up between sleeping in Frank’s van and walking the eight miles home in the dark. My old man wouldn’t miss me, so we chose the prior. Nobody missed me. Ever.
The van was cold and bumpy. Smelled like mildew, bleach, and old carpet. Frank did a great job of getting the smell of the body scrubbed out. You’d never know we had so much fun last week. It was a ton of work, but worth it. Frank’s van was the best.
It felt comforting to be curled-up where Coach laid, piled in his own mess. Just four days ago. Like we were all closer now. The current arrangement was much better than the time Coach took frank and I to the locker room alone. Told us all kinds of things so we’d be his friend. He even bought us pizza. Turns out Coach wasn’t our friend. Frank and I saw to it he never bought pizza, or gave locker tours again.
I slept well that night. Frank and I would figure it out tomorrow. Get the shitty van running again. Home in time for lunch. Frank understood me. Together, inside his rusty companion I knew I had a friend for life.
-Written by August Birch