46 • The Glove Box
The cold wind struck Will’s face like the flat side of a grain shovel as he stepped out of the double doors of the hospital. He staggered forward, hands in his pockets and shoulders hunched down into his jacket, noticing the absence of the soft shield of his shirt collar folded against his neck.
In his head, he cursed at Joe for not being able to keep track of his shirt in a clinically immaculate hospital room. He cursed at Cameron for thinking a shirt under his jacket mattered to an old man who would walk down the street pulling an IV pole while his resplendent white ass blared Blue Moon to the whole neighborhood. A full string of curse words about the nursing staff chased around inside his brain that he wanted to usher out into the gaping expanse of the parking lot but his jaw was clenched so tight he couldn’t peel his lips apart.
The slam of the door shook the cab so hard the GPS fell off the dashboard onto the passenger floor. Will leaned over with a grunt, almost falling off the seat himself and picked it up. He wrapped the cord around it, his chilled fingers yanking each loop around with a snap. The cord was stiff from the cold and kept slipping off the corners until he let out an inarticulate yell, wadded the cord into a ball and crammed the jumbled mess into the glove box. He slapped it shut.
The door popped open.
He slammed it again, and then again. Each time, the door dropped open, the unhooked latch looking back at him with a gap-toothed grin.
“Damn you, Barbara.”
He said it softly, almost kindly, then turned in his seat, planting his back against the door and kicked at the glove box with his foot, ramming it into place.
It held for a moment, then fell open.
Will pulled up his knee and planted his boot into the glove box door one last time. A skid mark went across the front from his black rubber sole. He heard plastic snap and the door dropped open and crashed to the floor, the GPS and tangled cords on top of it.
He looked at the mess and kicked at it, pounding his fists on the steering wheel.
“Damn you, Barbara!” He was crying now. “Damn you.” Will leaned his head against the back rest with his eyes closed and slid down in the seat. A tear moved slowly over his cheekbone and dropped onto his jacket.
“Damn. You.” He rubbed his arms.
His phone buzzed in his pocket. He pulled it out and slammed it against the dashboard once for each buzz until it stopped, then tossed it onto the seat beside him and rested his head on the wheel.
The phone buzzed again. He left it laying on the seat and didn’t move.
When it rang a third time, he picked it up and pressed Answer without looking.
“Damn you, Barbara, ” he said into it, then dropped it between his feet. A woman’s voice was speaking from the floor. “Will? Will, where are you?”
He kicked the phone under his seat and remained hunched over the steering wheel.
The voice stopped and a few minutes later there was a tapping at the window. He didn’t move.
The tapping went away, but then the passenger door opened.
“Will?” Cameron’s voice was quiet, but mildly anxious. At the least, uncertain.
He lifted himself from the steering wheel slightly and faced her, feeling as foolish as he’d ever felt with her.
“I’m ah—just—I was going to pick up guys up.”
“I know. Joe’s at the door. Waiting. You didn’t come and you didn’t answer your phone.” Cameron picked up the glove box cover and climbed onto the seat. “You okay? Something happen out here?”
“I’m fine. Had a little problem getting the GPS put away, is all. And I must have lost my phone.”
Cameron picked up the GPS and wrapped the cord snugly around it, then set it back inside the compartment before she eased the door back onto its hinges and pressed it shut. It wouldn’t latch.
“See? Damn thing’s broken, ” Will said.
She reached up to the topside of the latch and the Barbie head dropped into her palm, a gash in the back of her head where the catch had been jammed in. “That explains a lot.” She smoothed the doll’s hair over the wound with her thumb.
Will held out his hand and Cameron set the doll head into it. He brushed hair out of her eyes with his index finger, opened the latch on the glove box and dropped her gently back inside.
“Sorry, ” Will said, as much to the doll as to Cameron.
She patted his knee lightly and put her hands in her pockets. “Let’s go get Joe before he comes looking.”
The hospital’s big double doors pulled apart to reveal Myrna standing behind Joe in his wheelchair in theatrical fashion, as though opening on a scene from a medical drama. Joe tried to stand, only to have Myrna quietly clamp a firm hand onto his shoulder. He slumped in his chair under her grip as though she had been trained by Mr. Spock while Cameron hopped out of the cab. Will leaned over and dug around under his seat, reaching for his phone. Cameron put her head back in the truck.
“Can you go grab Joe’s bag?”
Will looked blankly out the window. “Joe doesn’t have a bag. His visit wasn’t exactly planned. That’s why he doesn’t have a shirt, remember?” He wiped off the screen of his phone with the side of his fist.
Cameron shifted her feet and looked at the seat, then back at Will.
“Look, whatever this is”—she made a spiraling gesture toward Will with her hand—“I’m sorry. But we need to get Joe loaded up. Come out and help.”
(to be continued)