It’s seven a.m. and stunningly cold – twenty degrees below zero cold. So cold the sun ain’t even up yet. But I am. I’m nineteen years old and in some alley, banging at a blankety-blank bolt on some garage door trying to replace some blankety-blank spring which snapped – surrendering to the cold, no doubt – probably somewhere around three-thirty in the morning – Ironically? – just about the time I fell into bed after a night of drinking, shooting pool, and general knuckleheadedness. Or should I say, another night of knuckleheadedness. I had had a string of those lately.
My father probably got the phone call about the garage door at six a.m., the voice on the other end pleading: “I can’t get my door open, and I gotta get to work at eight. Can you help me?” My father didn’t say no to work. His mantra? “If you don’t take care of your business, someone else will.” And he knew how to take care of business. So, at six oh three my bedroom light flips on. “Load up. We got an opening.” And I hadn’t even had time to sober up yet. Blankety-blank blank.
My father’s father had been a coal miner in southern Illinois; an immigrant from the Ukraine. My father’s mother died when he was four...
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