Ruth is stuck at the intersection of US 67 and New Street where the snake of westbound traffic is expected this time of day and left turns are a misery. Someday the death toll will put a traffic light at this intersection, but not in Ruth's time. In Ruth's time fatalities coincide with last call and the sixty degree bend crossing the town line. Sober people wait patiently, looking for the inevitable break. Today the westbound snake is met by the eastbound result of construction on 84. Rerouted commuters don't know how to leave a hole. Bastards. Ten minutes on the clutch is slipping into cramp territory. The truck is six inches off her bumper when she sees the hole, looks left, looks right one more time and pops the clutch. The truck sees the gap first, rolls back, and shoots around her on the right. He tears a hole in the shoulder gravel and slips neatly into the westbound lane.
From the backseat, "That man needs to be shot."
Her grandfather was buried two months back. Ruth spoke at his service, sandwiched between her uncle and the vet from Merrill's Marauders. It was an appropriate sandwich; her uncle told about the boy born in the chicken coop, and the soldier, about the CO cutting the road to Burma. Ruth closed her eyes and said that Gordon may have inadvertently introduced her to God in the filtered sunlight halfway up the ridge where she could see the river and he said she should always have her hands in the earth no matter what she did for a living. Maybe so, but Gordon came off a Midwest farm at the turn of the century where you shoot anything that crosses the property line without warning. Gordon may have had a solid understanding of the connection between God and earth, but he hauled himself off the farm the hard way. He got out with a JD and practiced Corporate Law, but there were those four years with a sniper's rifle.
She knows she wears him, the same way she wears both her parents, and her brother. Ruth doesn't care to wear anyone, but Gordon is benign, more often than not. Another deep breath and then the last resort. At the first four car opening, Ruth pulls into oncoming traffic, effectively blocking the eastbound lane. She doesn't hear shrieking brakes, just the rage of the rush hour horns. This is good, the snake makes a hole and she completes the turn.
From the backseat, "Sometimes that's the only way." Ruth does not hear the other conversations.
Her husband says, fairly frequently, "I am not your father, Ruth." She thinks she just sees common behavior but, in fact, she has wrapped her husband in the daddy sheet and there isn't anything he can do about it. Her husband speaks and she hears her father and bristles. Thirty years later she realizes her brother has wrapped her in the mother sheet and there isn't a damn thing she can do about it. Most of the time she has no idea what she's triggered or how. She knows it's got nothing to do with her; he can't see or hear her. She's bound head to toe and it's dark on the inside. The outside is a panoramic screen. She cannot choose, and often cannot hear the film.
Sometimes she hears her brother's pain. Mostly she feels rage.