He slops his filthy water across my sparkling windshield and across my gleaming hood and over my shining fenders three mornings a week when I pause at his intersection, caught by the light. I watch him concentrate on sticky traces of bugguts and each time examine the star-shaped divot a pebble chipped from the glass precisely in my line of sight as I followed a beat-up construction pickup on the interstate a year ago, a breach in the shield which like a mote in my eye disturbs my outlook wherever I point my car but which has never sent out a crack toward the seal or grown any larger. Today, though, a droplet forms at the center of the star and dribbles toward the dashboard on the inside of the glass, and another after that, on the inside of the glass, and a third. I pay him a dollar every time he assaults my car, for long enough now that by today I might have bought him a windshield. Perhaps he’s put a new one into whatever he drives, financed by me. We should trade. I open the door as the light turns green and step out into the clamor of drivers wanting me to move. Somehow from the impact of my getting out, he has fallen to the street. As I help him up, I lift the keys and a wad of cash from his overall pocket and hand him back one of his squeegees, then run with his bucket away from the scene in search of soap and fresh water. When I come back, my car is gone but in my pocket a good day’s pay at nine in the morning and somewhere nearby, with a windshield that doesn’t leak, a car that will match these keys.

Copyright © November 20, 2008 David Hodges

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