Ware is a small town named for Dad jokes.
As a kid, when we’d drive through, my Dad might stop and ask, “Do you know where we are?”
And my brother or I might giggle and say “Ware?”
And he’d say, “No, the gas station, go to the bathroom if you need it.”
Eventually, I started driving myself. Being from a small town in a nest of small towns, Ware was the closest place to get your car inspected. I’d gotten back to town a few days earlier and the car had been idle too long. I took it to Ware. I dropped my keys off with a man who looked much like the cars he was fixing.
I stepped outside and lit a cigarette.
I took a few drags. It was raining, not hard.
“You shouldn’t stand so close to the pumps.”
I turned. An old man in a hat that just read “hot dogs” was watching me.
“It would be faster if you shoot yourself,” he took a drag off his cigarette, “less painful, too.”
I nodded and joined him under the garage overhang.
“But,” he said, looking out at the rain, “you gotta have the courage to do it. That’s the hard part,” he mused.
We continued smoking under that overhang, the occasional car drove by.
“That vacuum over there has been going on and off all morning. Not a dime in it. If I’d known, I’d of brought my truck over and cleaned her out for free. Save myself fifty cents.”
I turned, he was looking off to the right. I saw the vacuums. One was sucking in rain water of its own accord. It was loud. I shrugged.
The old man sighed.
“Story of my life,” he said, “when my ship comes in, I’ll be waiting at the airport.”