Sold my Heart to the Junkman
“Aye, Matey,” he would say when I asked him if he was going out that morning.
Tuesdays were my least favorite day of the week.
And he would go, be gone, sometimes a few hours, sometimes ten minutes. He almost always came home with something strapped to the roof of the old Dodge we bought when we were first married.
Sometimes, though, he would come home without anything at all tied to the roof of the car. Those days were my favorite, for on those days he had usually found something that would keep him busy for a while.
He’d come home and say, “Look, Honey! look at what I found over at Old Man McHenry’s” Old Man McHenry ran an Army Navy Surplus store over on South Main an was known to throw away his inventory if it had collected dust for too long.
The day he came home from McHenry’s, it was gray and cold, not unlike most winter days in Akron. He splashed through the slush carrying a large red box.
I discovered the box was full of old felt cowboy hats. Some of them had red and white braided ties. Chinstraps, really, which hung down too long to be of any use to a child.
He spent that winter customizing the hats for all of the children in our neighborhood since we had no children of our own. He was forever out in the garage with those hats and I got lonely after dark, which always came early.
For Christmas that year he had given me a necklace he had made for me out of the red and while chinstraps. He had fashioned it with what looked to me to be a part of some fancy fishing lure so that it hung just between my breasts. He was so proud of it and it broke my heart not to wear it even though I found it horrid.
That summer every kid in the neighborhood sported one of those cowboy hats. And they were constantly running through all of the yards, cutting through the bushes and catching their hats on the Dogwood trees by Mr. Swanson’s garage.
Today was Tuesday. He had been gone just over two hours when I heard the car ramble into the driveway.
I put down the dishcloth on the rack he had fashioned from abandoned wooden spindles. I checked my lipstick in the mirror in the hall, the one he found last year on the curb when Mrs. Brooks had died.
I was in the yard before he got out of the car. I wore my favorite white dress and the necklace he gave me. I hoped he would notice that I had gotten my hair done at Bonnie’s while he had been gone.
He got out of the car and smiled at me. He did not even tell me about his newest find. He did not even close the car door. He rushed to me and kissed me gently, held me tightly.
“You. Are. So. Beautiful,” he said.
I fingered my frayed necklace, breathed in the summer air heavy with the scent of lilacs, and knew that Tuesdays were alright with me.