Oxford Magazine: Lonesome Harvests, Issue 35: Fall 2015

Page 6

Donald McMann Donald McMann

Henry and Fritz Were Not Lovers

Jenny and Liam needed a new car. When his dad gave him the Honda on Liam’s sixteenth birthday, the car and Liam were the same age. Liam was now twenty-three. A good age for a young man, a bad age for a car. “It’s the transmission,” their mechanic, Fidel, had said, “and even if I put a rebuilt in, it will still cost more than the car’s worth. You need a new car, or at least a newer car. Maybe consider importing from Cuba.” “Funny, Fidel.” Jenny and Liam were shocked at the bad news. As a couple, it was the only car they’d known. Really known. It was the car they took on their first date. They made love for the first time in that car, and it taught them the true dimensions of the word subcompact. “Forget hatchback,” Liam had said after. “How ’bout hunchback?” (By the way: we’re not talking about their having had sex on their first date. No, not at all. They actually managed to hold off until their second. They had some selfcontrol, after all.) The little blue Honda was the car that had carried all their things when they moved in together. Jenny learned to shift gears in that car. The Honda was almost like a child, or better yet, a beloved pet. An old dog, hard to get moving. Definitely slow and creaky. But familiar. Loyal. All its eccentricities known and certainly forgiven—well, mostly forgiven (there was that time when he’d stalled on the bridge during rush hour). They even named it: Henry. Henry Honda. (They’d considered Jane, but the car was too cute for that.) But reality is reality. If Fidel said Henry must be put down, then it must be so. It was, after all, an argument against interest. Fidel could have kept repairing Henry and presenting the bills. Jenny and Liam called a local charity that would tow old cars for free and issue a tax receipt for Henry’s value as scrap. It seemed like the thing to do—sort of like organ donation. Liam and Jenny were silent as they removed the fasteners from the 6

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