Coleman Bigelow : Fiction : July 2021

Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up on a farm in Virginia and, although I haven’t lived in the South since college, still hold a fondness for all things made with Duke’s Mayonnaise and anything with a little extra salt like VA Ham and Hubs Peanuts.  I also spent a summer with The Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, which is where I developed the taste for good bourbon. 


I reckon pneumatic is one of the tastiest words you’ll ever hear. Just plain delicious. You gotta love how it don’t write the way it sounds, and since we’re in tires now, I figured I’d best study up. Fill it up, fill her up, fill me up is what I told your brother!

I used to hang around the shop waiting for his shift to end, running my hands all over those tire treads. Couldn’t get enough of that feel, that smell. Then I discovered the bucket of tire shavings they kept, and I started wondering how they’d taste. Maybe it’s some kind of ‘oral fixation’ but if you can chew gum why the hell can’t you chew adventure? I taste the road in every bite. Hot asphalt stained with roadkill and cracked by salt, sun, and ice. Every day a different flavor. A different type of pressure pushing down on your tongue. I set there sucking and chewing and thinking about the potential in those tiny rubber pieces. And when I swallow, I fancy parts of me slowly coloring over to black. Filling in my very own San Andreas tar pit.

You sure you don’t want to try some? Suit yourself. It’s still right nice of you to come. I’ll be sure to tell Larry you made the effort. But since we’re going to be family, you ought to know that I don’t give two shits if those shavings are ‘toxic’. We’re all dying, some of us just choose to face the bullet head on. It’s only pure assholes, like my Daddy, who ain’t expecting it. When Mama shot him, he was fixing up his precious pickup, right after busting up her face all over again. Just checking the dipstick and whistling like he didn’t have a care. I was setting on the rope swing and I saw how his gray matter splattered across the engine block. Then mama started crying and called the cops.

First they checked Daddy, his body slumped over the engine like he was looking for something deep inside. Then they moved on to Mama, and I was real proud how she didn’t fuss. She just stood there—one eye swole shut and the other locked on the lights of the cruiser, her hands held out for the cuffs.

She’s a strong lady, my mama. But she’s got a flat that can’t be fixed. She’s played out rubber on the junkyard pile. Someone might could fix her if they could afford a patch. But I don’t see that happening now. That’s why I swore I’d never end up like her. So I don’t want you and Larry worrying. I ain’t going to need any patches. I’m building my own from the inside out.