People on the Highway

Today’s tale is called: Family Business

An old econoline van, blue and rusted with scratch marks along the top serving as constant reminders of that one time the walls really were probably getting too close, is parked along side me.  We are waiting for a green light that feels like it will never come.  The driver has shoulder length beige hair; not quite blonde, not quite brown.  A trucker cap rests on his head and he’s wearing oversized sunglasses.  He looks like he is some sort of permanent Kid Rock cosplay state.

The side of the van says “Getz Painting”, the words are slightly faded and the phone number is a bit too small to read even sitting right next to it.  The words were painted on by hand years ago.  The driver wants to get one of those fancy car wraps he sees all over the place, but budgets just are not quite there this year. Or any year for that matter.

The driver looks like a Chester.  He’s mid 30s, bohemian by nature, plays acoustic guitar in a bar band every other weekend.  He speaks with a bit of a country-esque accent that is oddly common in parts of Colorado.  His vowels extend a little much and he has not pronounced the G in any word ending ING since he was a teenager.  When he talks to customers by phone, he’s always happy to help ’em and says “thank ya'” when booking a client.   In the early 90s, still just a boy, the movie Airheads changed his life.  He goes by Chaz now, in honor of that particularly amazing Brendan Frasier character that held his name too.

Chaz met a girl a decade ago and after three months of a mostly alcohol fueled relationship, they found out they were to be parents.  The child born of their young romance sits next to him now.  The kid is called Blake, he’ll be ten years old in June.  Blake is adorable.  He has a matching trucker hat lurching down on his face, freckles inherited from his mother and an infectious smile.

Chaz and Blake’s mom split up shortly after Blake’s birth.  They learned early that a life together that they genuinely did not enjoy each other’s company without a Coors in hand.  They felt it best for Blake’s upbringing.

Chaz was a reluctant father.  The child was unintended and he feared that in some way he would replicate his own absent father.  He was terrified of the responsibility right up until he received the call that Blake was about to enter the world.  He hoped into his trusty van, ladders on top and paint buckets sloshing around in the back, and hurried to the hospital, arriving in time to be with Blake’s mom and see Blake come into the world kicking and screaming.

The first time he held the 7 pound baby in his arms, wrapped in a blanket patterned with dinosaurs, he stopped worrying.

Blake’s classes were cancelled today on account of building damage caused by recent flooding so he gets to spend a day with his dad painting a new apartment building on the west end of town.  Chaz has a whole miniature paint suit for Blake to wear, a set of brushes and rollers and a Blake will even be in charge of laying down the tape across baseboards.  Chaz is over the moon with excitement about what today will mean to his boy.

And at the end of the day, after the van is packed up and the apartment walls are waiting for a second coat to dry, Chaz and Blake will stand in the empty parking lot of the new complex.  Chaz will hand his son a brush and they will look at the words “Getz Painting” on the side of the van.  Chaz will take Blake’s hand and just below the space between Getz and Painting, together they will add “And Son”.

No fancy car wrap can beat that.



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