The Talisman


October 2002

Disclaimer: I keep wishing on stars, but they still don't belong to me.

It sits in the motor pool, a hulking behemoth that should look out of place next to the sleek imports. It's a draft horse among thoroughbreds, made for work not play. Bright red and white compared to the cool grays, blues and blacks surrounding it, it stands out, drawing his attention every time he enters the cavernous building.

There's no reason for him to have kept it. No need to hold onto it as its intended owner certainly will never be allowed to possess it, but keep it he does. It's clean, pure, simple, much like the one who should have it. The main difference is that it doesn't keep secrets inside it, ones that might lead him to believe that it's not quite as simple as he had initially thought.

He doesn't look in on it every day; sometimes weeks go by without his noticing the hulking shadowed form on the far side of the spacious area. It's cared for on the same precise scheduling as the other vehicles even though it's never driven: washed once a week, oil changed every three months, tires rotated every six. Everything by the book so that even if it looks out of place among the high-end sports cars, it doesn't feel that way.

He'd offered it as a token, a reflexive gesture by a man used to giving expensive gifts, and what better repayment for saving his life than the truck of every farm boy's dreams? Of course, that was before he knew that this farm boy wasn't like any other. His father may have made him return the gift, but that act had had the opposite effect from what he'd intended. Instead of severing the burgeoning friendship, it had deepened it, nurturing what had been conceived on a bridge and born on the muddy shores of a river.

He doesn't look in on it every day, but there are times when it seems to call him. It draws him in with a siren song that he would have thought absurd if he didn't get the same feeling from a pair of verdant eyes and the flashing of a shy grin. He doesn't allow himself to go to it every time it calls; that would make him admit to himself what exactly it's a substitute for, but every so often, he follows the lure to the last row of the motor pool.

It starts with a stroke over the curve of the front quarter-panel, one finger tracing the space between the hood and the main body. Any fingerprints he leaves on the cherry red paint will be gone by morning - one of the benefits of a truly attentive staff - but for now he can look at them, knowing that this is the only way he can mark it, make it in some way his own.

The heavy door opens easily, and he settles himself on the bench seat, pulling the door shut behind him, cocooning him inside. The fit is different than what he's used to, the view higher, the scent different, even though his staff surely uses the same cleaning products on all the cars. Perhaps it's the feel of cloth under him rather than leather; perhaps it's the lack of a gearshift near his right thigh; perhaps it's simply the idea that he would be sitting in a truck, a domestically manufactured truck no less. It's different, but not in a bad way, just like many things he's found here.

He doesn't start the engine, though the keys hang in the ignition. It's enough to simply be there, to grip the steering wheel, imagining himself somewhere else, someone else. He usually lasts five minutes before the absurdity of the situation gets to him, driving him from the wayward shelter of the truck's cab and back into the cool chrome and steel of his normal life, but that five minutes adds a core of peace to his being. A calm spot in his turbulent soul that makes him think twice about the future and regret decisions he's made in the past.

He may not ever have the farm boy, but he has his friendship, and his truck, and with those as his touchstones, his future is less clouded than before.


  since 02-04-07

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