Lesson Number One
by scarlet (superscar)
New Paltz, New York - 2025
I was shocked the only time Dad let me drive his car. Well, maybe 'let' is too strong a word. He went out of town and for the first time since I could remember, he didn't take the black beauty with him. Sometimes mom joked that he loved the car more than he did us and it hit a little too close to be all that hilarious.
He never let anyone else in it. Legend has it, it's how he drove me home from the hospital, but I have trouble picturing him inviting anyone likely to spit chunks anywhere near his leather interior.
Mom promised me on more than one occasion that it was nothing personal. Something about the car helped him exorcise his demons and maybe someday, Dad would tell me about it himself.
Dad was gone a week before I even dared climb into it. Punked out and went through the back door and crawled over the seat, like if I hadn't really stolen his car on purpose, just sort of accidentally fallen into the driver's seat.
Just sitting inside was an experience. It was immaculate, a far cry from our cluttered house and the creepy otherworldly crap that littered Dad's study. Turning the key was was exhilarating, though I was terrified Dad was waiting in the shadows to catch me giving the old car anything more than a wax.
The engine roared to life and I felt my cool factor growing just being behind the wheel of such a beast. I even let Dad's Bon Jovi tape play a little before I turned on my iTrip.
My friends were jealous as hell when I rolled onto the school parking lot. A '67 Chevy Impala was a rare find and Dad kept it in such mint condition I'm surprised it took a full 24 hours to get Mindy Saracen to the back seat.
Dad wouldn't have approved, but being that he was out of town and Mindy was on the gymnastics team, I really couldn't give a shit. The car had been created to get ass. I was only helping to fulfill that purpose.
Mom was too distracted the month Dad was away to really notice what I did and I'm not sure she even realized what I was driving, let alone the girls that were with me. I assume she just didn't care as long as I didn't scratch the damn thing and cleaned up after my guests.
Anytime I didn't spend in that beautiful machine seemed like a waste. I did everything in the Impala but eat, terrified something would either stain or rot.
After a month of carefully hiding my use of the car, I came home to find my father in the driveway. It was unfortunate timing, but it was a possibility I'd acknowledged when I set out on my endeavor. A calculated risk that could now end in my untimely demise. It was tempting to gun it around the block and make a break for Mexico, but the old man had some kind of military training and the whole idea seemed ill-advised.
I didn't even notice Dad had company until I got out of the car and a stranger rushed past me to the Impala, greeting the car as he might a lost lover, caressing her hood and crooning softly.
"She looks great, Sam," the stranger told my dad.
"She better." Dad leaned against the hood winked at me, looking more relaxed than I'd ever seen him. I was really hoping that meant I wasn't grounded. "Spent more time with her than my family."
The stranger looked at me for the first time. He looked as though he was in his late twenties but his eyes seemed older, like they'd been around longer than the rest of his body. "That's Winchester-style parenting, right there. Bet this car got the kid plenty of ass, though, that right?"
"Please don't answer that." Dad winced.
I started to edge toward the house, not particularly wanting to explain my short-lived Impala adventures.
"Where ya headed there, Grand Theft Auto?"
"Homework," I tried to explain. "And other things. Responsible things. Chores for mom."
"Sarah won't mind," Dad said. "This is my brother. He's been out of the country for awhile."
"Putting it lightly," my uncle muttered as I mentally tried to do the math. I knew my dad had a brother, he'd been the subject of a few screaming matches my mom and dad didn't know I'd overheard. At the time, I'd gotten the strong impression the other, nameless Winchester brother was dead, but apparently not. It was strange that he'd never been around as I was growing up, but then, how much could my dad really have in common with a brother that had to be twenty years his junior?
I chalked it up to the mystery that was my father. The way he made me get a tattoo when I was twelve and wouldn't let me pick the pattern. Or his tendency to pour salt fucking everywhere and freaked the hell out when anyone tried to sweep it up.
"Dean Winchester," I introduced myself, holding my hand out to the newcomer.
It was as though his entire face softened when I said my name and for a second, I was completely terrified that this stranger was going to cry or something equally awful, but he didn't.
Instead, he turned to my dad. "Didn't think I'd make it back, huh?"
"Shut up, Dean."
It was on my tongue to point out the fact that I hadn't said anything until I realized the obvious. I wasn't the only Dean Winchester in the driveway.
"So, who else could use a beer or three?" Dean climbed into the driver's seat like he was meant to be there and I was shocked when Dad just let him, taking the long walk around to the passenger side door.
"Coming?" Dad asked, looking straight at me.
I couldn't climb into the back seat fast enough.
"This yours?" Dean tossed my iPod back to me with a shudder and stroked the wheel tenderly. As he turned the key, Bon Jovi blasted out of the radio.
"Oh, like this is any better?" I asked as we pulled out of the driveway.
My dad and his brother shared a look, like I was the one with crap taste in music.
"Kid, lesson number one," Dean said, "Driver picks the music."
As he turned up the sound and smashed his foot to the pedal, I heard the implicit Lesson Number Two: My driving days were over.