Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Credo Waits for Grandpa

Credo Chavis lives with his parents and Grandpa at the end of Creek Drive, a dusty unpaved road off Highway 1 outside of Cloverdale. Grandpa sleeps in Credo's small bedroom just off the bathroom hallway on the main floor. Credo sleeps in the guest room in the basement directly under Grandpa. Grandpa refused to take the guest room because of his disability. The stairs were to great a challenge. Credo doesn't mind sleeping under Grandpa's room, except on the days when Grandpa has had one too many beers. The alcohol amplifies grandpa's snoring.

“Some days are better than others.” Credo explains. “One night a month Grandpa drinks too many beers. Its the night when his disability check comes from the government. He gets real mad because the government doesn’t give him enough money for his injury. Its fun to see him open it. He starts swearing in Spanish. I don’t understand what he’s saying but its fun to see him do his mad dance. He stomps and walks and stomps and swears and stomps and shakes his fist in the air. I knows he’s saying something to God but I don’t know what it is. Maybe he wants God to take him because his check isn’t as big as he wants. I don’t think God listens because of his swearing. Anyway, he snores bad when he’s drunk.”

Both of Credo's parents work so Grandpa begrudgingly collects Credo after school in his old Volvo. Every day he arrives at the school one hour early to ensure he gets the best parking spot in the drop off and loading zone. Getting that prized spot is important to Grandpa. Its his way of striking back at life for the intolerable amount printed on his disability checks. Once parked, Grandpa exits the car and walks toward the flag pole’s raised base. He sits down, looks both directions, takes out a cigarette and waits until someone comes close enough to catch him lighting up. He knows its illegal to smoke on school grounds but he does it for a reason. Grandpa is sticking it to the man for forcing him to live on the paltry amount printed on his disability checks. When challenged about his smoking Grandpa transitions into his alter ego, a senile forgetful Spanish speaking old man - a performance he's played so often he can fool even the most hard hearted. Which of course means he gets away with almost anything. If Credo happens to be there he will play along and translates what Grandpa says into English even though Grandpa understands English perfectly well. Grandpa gives him a little pocket money for not turning him in so he doesn't mind.

Credo tolerates Grandpa's slow, curb crawling speed on the trip home. He does it to stick it to the man. Credo even tolerates the “crappy” music Grandpa plays. Credo does have a problem with Grandpa’s incessant use of the horn for even the slightest infraction of his driver’s rights. But what Credo really hates is the daily stop they make so Grandpa can relieve himself. Grandpa says he has a weak bladder and can't wait the twelve minutes from the school to home to go. Credo knows he is telling a lie. Grandpa purposely fills his bladder every day before picking up Credo so he can pee on the barbed wire fence surrounding Cloverdale's water treatment plant. He does it to defy the government on account of his laughable small disability payment.

Grandpa stops the car, gets out, points toward the sky and mumbles something in Spanish. Credo thinks he is asking God to curse the water. Grandpa's reasoning, though flawless to him, seems insane to Credo. Grandpa believes that if he must suffer then so should everyone else.

If the weather permits, Credo gets out of the car, leans against the hood and takes in the late afternoon scenery. He listens and waits. Yes, there it is - more swearing in Spanish. Grandpa has to go but finds it difficult. Something to do with his prostrate. A quick 30 second pee for Credo can take three or more minutes with Grandpa. Sometimes longer on the days when he gets his disability checks.

Once relieved, Grandpa and Credo return to the car to finish the last five minutes of the drive home. Credo looks out the window and Grandpa drives with a look of complete satisfaction.

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