Driving Ninety | Mark Spencer

	When Leila was little and her daddy came around, he’d take her to The Waffle House for pancakes, and then they’d go driving at ninety miles an hour in his red Camaro or red Trans Am or red Chevelle Super Sport on the hilliest, windiest roads he could find. It never occurred to her she could die any second.  
	Daddy came once a year. He brought her old coins. Buffalo nickels, Mercury Head dimes. She liked best the old Standing Liberty quarters. They were usually worn so smooth she couldn’t read the dates on them. For years, she kept all the coins in a shoe box. Then her first husband spent them on party supplies when he got kicked out of the army.        
	Daddy never talked much. Ninety miles an hour, the top down, all the windows open. He’d just grin continuously, his jet-black hair slicked down and unaffected by the wind. The tires hummed. He patted her head. The wind wrapped around her. 
	Trees reached out, but they were gone in a flash. Pick-up trucks came out of nowhere, were gone so fast she didn’t have time to get scared. A train would rush at them as they bumped over tracks, signals clanging and flashing, the whistle shrieking.   
	Then three years went by and he didn’t come. When he finally showed up one Sunday morning, she was nearly sixteen and a lot had happened, and things had happened to him, too. He limped–-a jack had slipped at the garage where he worked, he explained, and a Cadillac had fallen on his leg. And he had the beginnings of a belly. His hair was shaggy and streaked with gray. He drove a white four-door Dodge with rust streaks like the trails of tears on a kid’s dirty face.   
        She was six months pregnant, and her husband was away in boot camp.  
        After one look at her belly, Daddy didn’t look at her again. At The Waffle House, over the rim of his coffee cup, his eyes followed a skinny waitress flitting from table to table while Leila talked about how after Kent got out of boot camp they might move to Germany.        
	Finally, Daddy put his cup down and said, “Kim?”
	“Kent, Daddy. Kent.”  
	Then the Dodge wouldn’t start, and she sat in the cold car while her father stood in the rain in the parking lot of The Waffle House and asked people if they had jumper cables.

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commentary | poetry | fiction | chicago | winter 2008  
Single Life #8 | Amy Groshek 
Parallel Conservatory | Clare Kirwan
Old & Strong  |  Robert Gibbons
Crow | Ramesh Avadhani
Driving Ninety | Mark Spencer
With Her Own Things | Kristiana Colón
Story of a Hall Porter | Edward Mc Whinney
The Halcyon Days of War | B.E. Hopkins
Three Stories | Laurence Davies

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