Carl’s a musical genius and a survivor of cancer. He doesn’t walk: he floats. He whistles Mozart operas in the bathtub, with splashes for punctuation. He’s hard of hearing and he’s addicted to nasal spray and once you’ve met him, he’s impossible to forget.
...The last time I took Carl to the hospital, the custodian took one look at his stubby grey ponytail and said, “You groovy, man!” Carl told the staff that I was his girlfriend, and that we were to be married the following week. He smooched the nurse, and she wiped her cheek.
As four beefy men had rolled him into the ambulance, he had pointed to a fat cat, orange as a pumpkin, rolling ecstatically in the dirt, and said, “That’s my Leo! He eats squirrels!”
I had a flat, and by the time I pulled up to Ortiz Tire I had two – I think the bastards sprinkle screws in the alley to enhance business. More snow fell, innocent and white, each flake a unique possibility, but the pileup around us was so hopelessly soiled with exhaust, who cared. Boo Boo woke with a frown and coughed out a stream of curdled milk. She looked plump and crotchety, and I sat in the back seat with her singing along with the radio, Little Red Corvette! Her frown cracked into an enormous toothless smile. I held her tight to my body in her screaming pink snowsuit with Eskimo trim, and jiggled her in the garage, surrounded by mounds and mounds, coils and coils of tires. She was mystified by the black mountains. When she is 27, she’ll have a dream of infinite, whispering black mountains in twilight, and she’ll interpret it as an ancestral land, when in fact it is an infant memory of tires.