The McManus’ airstream sat parked on their asphalt driveway covered in wet leaves all year round. It didn’t move. At my age, I couldn’t have been aware that the melancholy presence of its’ silver shape was what caused Mr. McManus to look so defeated and old or what made Mrs. McManus call my Mom when she’d spotted me from her chair in the window as I was wiping with leaves after a bathroom break while hunting the fox with my slingshot and binoculars. I knew I’d been told that Mrs. McManus was an “invalid” and that I never, ever saw her. I knew from second grade vocabulary what valid meant and therefore kind of guessed the meaning of “invalid.” What I couldn’t have seen were the adventures planned and not taken that Mr. McManus saw every night when he pulled in the driveway from work and saw the once silver shine of the Airstream. Before turning to drive down the hill toward the Airstream and his house, he’d have to pass the Roush’s driveway that went up the hill to where a sailboat sat. The sailboat that Mr. Roush kept at the marina in the summer and where he’d drive his Pontiac Catalina convertible on breezy evenings after having a martini on his screened porch, skimming through The Economist and enjoying his one nightly unfiltered Lucky Strike. All I knew then was it seemed like I’d rather be Mr. Roush when I grew up.
PB Johnson was born in Knoxville, TN, and now lives in Illinois where he is a husband and a dad. His writing has appeared in Green Briar Review, Gravel, fresh.ink, Moon Park Review, Open: Journal of Arts and Letters and more.