Summer, and I'm with Daddy on Peter's Creek Road in the old yellow pickup
headed out to the egg man's. This was before the airport grew and took the woods,
and most side roads were still packed dirt ending at a farm gate or home place back
in the trees. Ahead on my side, a colored man on foot comes to the end of a track,
stops a moment at the blacktop as if it is a shimmering ribbon of river then turns on
up the road. We reach him quickly, and Daddy slows the truck, hunkers a little at the
wheel to see his face, stops and asks, Want a ride, son? The man, older than
Daddy, drops of sweat popped out all over his dark face, turns toward us, looks up
then down the asphalt, hunkers a little himself to meet my father's eyes and says,
Indeed, sir. I don't move to make room for him, and Daddy doesn't ask me.
Instead, the man steps up on the running board, leans against the truck and hangs on
to the door at the open window. For the next few miles, his hands at eye level, I
study the tension in his grip, the red meat of a barked knuckle, a smooth blue
fingernail. My father slows the truck at the Esso, and the man jumps off.