12. Helping“Pick up that nut, Johnny.”

Johnny looked, but didn’t see it. “Where is it?”

“It’s there,” his father said, looking out from under the car, pointing with the wrench in his hand. “Right there. Right there! If it was a snake, it’d bite you. Right there!”

Johnny hated helping his father work on the car, or do any activity that might make his dad frustrated. He looked for the nut, but for the life of him couldn’t see it. The rising panic wasn’t helping. “I don’t….”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” his father said, lumbering out from beneath the car. He walked over to Johnny and plucked the nut from the ground. He held it in front of Johnny’s face, so close he couldn’t focus on it. “There! There! That’s what a nut looks like! If I drop another one, this is what you look for.”

As his father got back under the car, Johnny thought of his friend, Tim. Tim was lucky; his father lived out of state, and when he saw him, they did fun things together. Johnny’s dad was there all the time. He couldn’t remember doing anything fun with him.

“Ah, dammit,” his father said. “Johnny, hand me the 32mm wrench. Goddammed metric.”

Johnny looked at the explosion of wrenches carelessly tossed in the toolbox and felt the panic start again.

“C’mon! I don’t have all day!”

Johnny looked up at the big, heavy wrench his dad used for plumbing, and at his father’s outstretched hand.