Hell on Wheels


The hummingbird feeder dangled near the picture window.  From inside I watched the marvel of the tiny creature.  Heavy foot steps quickly approached from outdoors and away scattered the bird. Brother-in-law Brett swiftly ran by.  His pudgy belly led the way to the shed behind the house.  No matter the time of day or purpose he always runs when on the driveway.  One thing I’ve learned growing up along the Mississippi River is that it’s hard for a large boat to make sudden turns.  One summer I had to replace a series of four landscaping lights a total of five times each.  I have since given up on having lights in that location.  They were placed near the front corner of the house.  As Brett runs along the driveway and steers right to rim the sidewalk the lights lose every time.  There’s a couple of shrubs that due to placement have very short lives as well.  I have been thinking about getting brother-in-law a sign to wear on his rear.  “Wide right turns.”  I have demonstrated slowing down in hopes of saving the poor plants.  However, Brett’s usual response is “I din’t do it.”  I have witnessed a couple of times as he trampled the lighting and shrubbery shouting, “I didn’t do it.”  I remind myself frequently that although he is forty-four years old he is mentally twelve.

“Brum…..brum……brum.”  I could hear the puny engine start.  I waited at the window and watched as brother-in-law zipped by.  His helmet fastened tightly above his head.  His smile stretched happily across his face.  The little scooter gave him an immense amount of freedom.  We have learned that it’s best to have two scooters.  So that when one is inevitably in need of repair the other is on standby.  We’ve also learned not to park our vehicles near the shed.

“Hey…um…Darrin!” exclaimed Brett.  “You need to move your car.  I keep running into it.”

Brett’s biggest dream is to one day have a driver license.  When that happens I will alert everyone to stay indoors.  I sometime give him driving lessons.   I do this on very quiet streets in the wee hours of the morning.  I usually follow it with a stiff drink when I get home.  He has periodically taken the state driver exam and hopes to ultimately pass someday.  Until then he’s hell on wheels with 50 cubic centimeters of power or less.

Brett loves the independence owning a scooter has given him.  He has become quite an avid local traveler.  I continuously give him talks on the importance of safety.  Unlike our talks regarding the shrubbery and landscape lighting, he actually listens.  When the weather is rough I especially worry.  However, he insists on riding his scooter come rain or come shine.  The one thing that does stop him is lightning.

While attending a wedding in the mountains ninety miles away I received a call from Brett.  “Um…Kelly,” he  uttered.  “I’m going home from the book store and I saw lightning.”

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I am on the side of the road waiting.”

“What are you waiting for?” I asked.

“I am waiting for the lightning to stop.  I don’t want to be struck by lightning.”

“Is it raining heavily?” I continued.

“Well…um…It hasn’t started raining yet.”  He replied.

“How far are you from the house?”

“I’m a little pass Burger King.”

“Well Brett, that’s only two miles from the house.  So your best bet is to get on the scooter and get your ass home before the rain…”

Brett interrupted, “I don’t want to get struck by lightning!”

I had to promise him that he wouldn’t get struck by lightning that day.  Lightning is the only naturally occurring phenomenon that can keep him off his scooter.  I frequently offer him transportation wherever he is going.  The only way he accepts the offer is if both scooters have malfunctioned.  I remember an instance when one of his scooters was in the shop getting repaired.  The remaining scooter had a faulty headlight.  We informed Brett that he can use this scooter only to go short distances and only during daylight hours.  Brett decided to go to the movie theater.  Although there was daylight when he arrived, there was none when he left.  My wife received that call.

“Um…Julee,” he said.  “You need to come get me.  I am at the movies and my headlight isn’t working.”

She approached Brett at the curb and he entered the vehicle.  She informed him that I would be back later to retrieve his scooter with my trailer.  Upon leaving the parking lot Brett stated that he forgot something on his scooter.  “What is it?”  She asked.

“Um…I forgot my beer.”

“Your beer?  What the hell are you doing with beer on your scooter?” She questioned as she reentered the parking lot.

Brett pointed to the spot where his scooter was parked.  His locking cable had it securely fastened to a sign that read “Police Vehicle Parking Only.”  He heeded his sister’s stern advice and moved his scooter to a new location.  With his scooter now attached to a handicap sign he grabbed his beer and reentered the vehicle.  The look on my wife’s face told him to go back in the parking lot and search for a new space.  This time it was next to a tree at the far end of the lot.  Satisfied with Brett’s new parking choice they both headed back to the house.  Julee was pleased to discover that the beer had not been opened.  His intention was to drink it at home.

Meanwhile, I returned home shortly after my wife left to pick up Brett.  I bought a few solar landscaping lights from the home improvement store.  They were very easy to install.  I just attached them to the spikes and into the ground they went.  Julee rolled down the window as she drove by. “Boy do I have a story to tell you.”  She parked behind the house, away from the shed of course.  Rapid stomping approached and Brett ran by.  As he made that dreaded right turn I heard him shout, “I didn’t do it.”

Kelly Jude Melerine