The Death of Big Butch

By Larry Sceurman

To purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, direct from Parisian Phoenix.

It’s a beautiful spring evening and the sun leaves pinkish-orange streaks across the western sky. A vintage burgundy ’65 Mustang rolls to a stop. Sally sits pressed against the steering wheel, the bulk of her body preventing her from reaching the door handle. Jimmy exhales, fearing that Sally will scrape the tires against the curb. He hates sitting in the passenger seat and having Sally drive. Sally turns to Jimmy.

“Open the door for me and get me out of this thing.”Jimmy runs to the driver’s side of the car and opens the door. “Sal, this is not a thing. It’s a 1965 Mustang fastback 2+2 with pony interior.”

Sally extends her arm for Jimmy to help her out.“I know it’s a ’65 Mustang 2+2, and that it’s hard to get out of. Someday it may be worth more than what you paid for it,” she says tersely, repeating verbatim the points he has made in the past. “But when you feel like you’re freakin’ 52 months pregnant and stuck behind the steering wheel and you have to get out of this bucket seat, it’s a thing. I don’t know why we can’t have a regular four-door car… It would make our life simpler.”

Jimmy sighs.

“What, are you kidding me? I’m not driving around in a four-door family delight.”

Sally gets on her feet, steps to the sidewalk, and turns to Jimmy with her hands on her hips.

“Jimmy, just what the hell do you think we are?” She gestures toward the back seat. “There’s Little Jimmy sleeping in his car seat, the trunk and the back seat are full of groceries and my belly sticks out like I ate a basketball… because I’m pregnant. We have a two-year-old child and we’re going to have another child, that’s a freakin’ family, Jimmy.”

She raises her voice, not enough to wake their son, Little Jimmy, but enough to emphasize her point.

“Remember I’m the one that does the driving in this family. You lost your driver’s license because you drive drunk. Cars and drinking don’t really help family life.”

Jimmy throws up his hands and with a little shake of his head says, “Okay, okay. Do you want me to get Little Jimmy out of the car seat?”

Sally rolls her eyes. “Yes, Jimmy. If we had a four-door car or a little station wagon, I could get him in and out of the car myself.”

Jimmy looks at Sally’s angelic face, framed by her dark brown hair, and stares into her whiskey-colored eyes, full of the intensity of the irritation she has toward him. He hesitates, knowing he should keep his mouth shut… but there is this sixteen-year-old motor-head that still lingers in Jimmy’s soul. If your car isn’t cool, neither are you.

Out it comes. He can’t stop it.

“No way. No station wagons,” Jimmy says. “I sold the ’60 ’Vette to put aluminum siding on the house! What the hell more do you want?”

“I want a station wagon and a husband that is not a drunk.”

Jimmy looks at Sally for a moment and without a word, he reaches into the back seat, unbuckles Little Jimmy, and lifts him out. His whole demeanor changes and his voice is kind and soothing.

“Hey, sleepyhead, we’re home now.”

Jimmy kisses the boy on the cheek. Sally takes Jimmy’s lead and her sharp words dull to a gentler tone.

“I’ll open the trunk and bring in a bag of groceries,” she says.

Jimmy gives her a peace-for-now look, saying, “Don’t hurt yourself.”

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