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Cracked Windshield

Photo: shallowend. CC-BY.

My windshield resembles a picture screen depicting the future racing towards me.

The crack running down the center suggests two destinies distorted by the on-coming headlights
blinding me as to which road I should choose.

The taillights resemble red sequin bulbs adorning a splintered Christmas tree within a
dysfunctional home, and warn against taking the wrong turn.

The pale-yellow line I follow won’t prevent calamity.

The rubber wiper blades struggle to sway from side to side like exhausted people shredded by the
broken glass living long-suffering lives.

The rearview mirror is small but clear depicting memories fading with each passing mile,
ultimately lost forever.

Viewing my future through the windshield is like watching a movie in a drive-in theatre from a
lawn chair left by my foster parents using the car like a motel room rented by the hour.

I strike a pot-hole lengthening the crack on the beaten-down windshield too tired to maintain its
struggle as protector and disintegrates into shards like a broken life.

I push forward without protection from the wind, dust, and insects outside.

I’ve chosen the wrong exit and come upon the dingy convenience market in a forgotten small
town relegated to obscurity by the freeway.

Seated beside me is my passenger known as “Revolver”.

I enter and hear the familiar lyrics,

“Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane.”

The immigrant proprietors are a father, mother, and youngster celebrating Christmas in America
dutifully staying open as a gift of convenience to neighbors in their adopted new home.

“Merry Christmas, Sir”

I retreat to the frig of colored drinks reminding me of our empty refrigerator and twisted string of
burnt-out tree lights back home.

I detest the image of myself in the security mirror above the doorway portraying a desperate man
driven to robbery to provide food and gifts to his needy family.

The mirror reveals the approach of a disheveled, frightening, and determined skeleton of a man.
His body odor is palpable as he passes. His oversize jacket conceals a shotgun.

As fortunate children are unwrapping their gifts, giggling, and laughing, I’m witness to the
unwrapping of a weapon of death followed by screams, crying, and begging.

He’s taken them into the storeroom and I fear the worse.

“Open your present” echoing throughout town has become,

“Open the damn safe or I’ll blow you all away!”

I’m confronted by my “Ghost of Christmas Past”. Santa came to our house dressed as a homicide
detective and my Christmas dinner was served within a juvenile custodial center.

This never fading memory in my rear-view mirror wasn’t gift wrapped but the card carried a
message to prevent a redux of my “Christmas Past” for this family.

I placed “Revolver” to the back of the thief’s head who dropped the rifle. He fell to his knees
pleading like I begged dad not to pull the trigger on mom.

“Please don’t kill me. I needed money for a fix!”

His “fix” was a precious Christmas gift of mercy from his victims.

“Let him go. It’s Christmas.”

He grabbed a pack of cigarettes and bottle of whiskey as he ran away.

To escape a bad dream, it’s best to get out of bed, and I headed for the door to end my nightmare.
Before leaving, I hear,

“Stop!”

They likely triggered the alarm. It was ironic I failed to steal a day of celebration for my family
but would end up in jail for concealing a weapon without a permit.

The family scurried about the store filling a shopping cart with the makings of a convenience
market version of Christmas dinner and gifts.

I was pelted by the cold, dust, and insects but kept an eye on the rearview mirror providing me a
memory of kindness, never fading with each mile passed or lost forever.

I followed the pale-yellow line home carefully while humming,

“Peace on earth will come to all if we just follow the light
So let’s give thanks to the Lord above, ’cause Santa Claus comes tonight.”


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