Truck of Jim
by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek
Lightning illuminated the evening sky littered with dark storm clouds. The clouds rumbled together like a fierce lion. The rain fell in heavy, pounding sheets, hitting the roof like bullets from unseen rifles.
“Isn’t this great?” I glanced across the tiny bedroom at my cousin.
Kaya sat next to her radio, her knees tucked up to her chin. “No,” she squeaked. “I hate thunderstorms. They really freak me out!”
“We can talk about something else.” I wished that the lights would go out so we could use candles.
“How’s your boyfriend?”
I shrugged and picked at the blue lacquer on my thumbnail.
Kaya closed her white Venetian blinds, hiding the lovely storm raging outside.
“What’s his name?” she drawled. “Nick? Rick? Hickey?” She giggled, pleased that she’d made some kind of joke.
“Rich.” I swallowed hard. “We, um, we actually broke up a few days ago.”
“Oh.” Kaya jumped as another clap of thunder echoed through the mountains behind her house.
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 three months; high time for friendly family-bonding.
A smile spread to her glossy pink lips. She grabbed the portable phone off her dresser, almost knocking a pillar candle onto the floor. “I’m going to play cupid!”
“There’s this guy, Jim, who’s been helping my dad on the farm. He’s so perfect for you!”
“No way.” I imagined Rich’s warm laughter and my stomach clenched.
Kaya dialed the guy’s number. “Is Jim there?” After a pause, she squealed. “Hey-ya, Jim. It’s Kaya. My cousin’s over. She wants to talk to you!” She shoved the black phone bang 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. Rich never let pauses hang. He always had a joke.
A deep, young male’s voice said, “Hi.”
Thunder sounded outside. Kaya jumped and looked toward her closed windows.
“Jim?” 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 the way I’d done whenever I’d called him or he’d called me. We would 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 must just be shy.
More fuzzy crackling came over the telephone.
“I have to go,” I said. “You aren’t supposed to talk on the phone during a storm.”
His line clicked, so I hung up and handed the phone back to Kaya. “He sounds... nice. I guess. He didn’t even say goodbye, but maybe the storm had disconnected the line.”
“You can see him tomorrow at the barn.”
The power went out and we plunged into darkness. Kaya’s immediate scream echoed through the small country house.
* * *
“Wait here,” Kaya said from 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 in the 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 milk house door banged opened and Kaya skipped out. “Jim’s coming.”
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. A second later, the door opened and a boy stepped out into the morning sunlight. He wore a threadbare shirt that at some point must have been white. The front displayed an image of a green truck.
“This is Jim.” Kaya punched his arm.
“Hi.” I self-consciously touched my curls while staring at his short, white-blonde hair. He must’ve shaved his head recently and it was just growing back.
“Hey.” He wiped his filthy hands on his torn, stained jeans. I didn’t 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?” That question always made a pleasant icebreaker.
“Pets?” He spit onto the muddy grass.
I nodded. “Like a dog or a cat or a guinea pig.”
“Something you take care of.” He seriously didn’t know what I meant?
Jim’s baby-blue eyes lit up. “I have a truck!”
I swallowed. “Are you trying to be funny?”
“I don’t make jokes,” he said.
I wracked my brain for another safe topic. “What kind of music do you like?”
Jim shrugged. “Russian music.”
Awesome. Maybe he could teach me. “Cool!”
“That singer 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. Wait, no, she’s from Spain.” He scratched the side of his nose. “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. No kidding. He couldn’t carry on a coherent sentence. Did Kaya really think I would hit it off with him?
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 said. “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.”
“Is Justin your boyfriend?”
I clenched my hands into fists to keep from yelling. “No. I don’t even know him.”
“Wanna go for a ride in my truck?”
“No, thank you,” I snapped.
“It’s a really great truck.”
“I’m sure it is. Where did Justin and Kaya go?”
“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, but then he grinned. “I drive my truck to school.”
“No, I mean, are you taking any drama classes or a special science?”
Jim wiped a brown streak off his cheek. “I’m gonna drive my truck to school.”
“Fine, whatever!” I opened the door to find Kaya.
Jim grabbed my arm. “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 gaped.
I shoved him away with my fists and stormed 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 located 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.
I rested my hands on my hips to look natural. “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 the barn. Jim stood near a machine, holding a screwdriver.
“Do you like the color red?” I bit back a smirk.
Jim began to tighten a screw. “I like trucks.”
I smiled. “I thought so.”
I went back to Kaya’s house to pack since I would go 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 left out the part where he almost fell over 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 cringed. Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all. “What’s the charm of?”
Copyright © 2012 by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek