Clarence parked the Camry at the end of the long single-lane lot, faded white lines angling onto the cracked asphalt. He watched Andrew, a Cleveland Indians baseball cap resting backwards on his head, walk slowly towards the vending area, a thin rectangle of glass and concrete, the young man’s focus intent on the phone held in his hands. Feeling an ache in his back, Clarence got out of the car, walked around the perimeter of their parking space, stopping along the passenger side and letting his rear rest on the front fender.
He scratched a belly that after forty-five years of benign neglect had finally begun to bulge. It was one of many physical signs that he was entering middle age — hair thinning at the crown, recurring back and leg aches, eyesight weakening. He looked down at his clothes; polo shirt, shorts, sneakers, even his socks looked as worn as his body felt. His wife, Nadine, had been urging him over that summer to spend some money on new clothes for God’s sake, and he’d been dismissing her admonitions with a curt reply. “I’m comfortable with what I got.” But examining himself now, Clarence snorted, shook his head; Nadine had left a 30% Kohl’s coupon for him on the kitchen table.
A few minutes later, Andrew approached, eyes glaring down at his phone as if the device were navigating his path back to the car. For the first time that day, Clarence noticed his son’s slender frame, how his t-shirt and cargo pants hung loosely on his body, like curtains; his boy really did look good. Clarence lifted his chin, pointed it forward — “Ready?”
His son continued forward, oblivious to the world around him, as if he were sleepwalking; Clarence called to him again, this time more urgently, and Andrew lifted his face.
Clarence frowned, pushed his butt off the Camry’s fender. “Let’s get going.”