But Joel just couldn't let go. That night, in the bus, he asked me a question that sent a sick feeling churning in my gut.
"What if we join the Chevelle gang, Ty?"
"We cain't join the Chevelle gang, Joel. You've seen what they do to folk."
"Yeah, but if one of us joins, maybe they'll leave the rest of us alone."
"That's a mighty high price to pay, Joel. Murderin' and lootin' folk just so your own folk stay safe. Do you really think you can do it?"
We argued about it for hours, but nothing I said mattered. The seed got planted in his head, somehow, and once it took root, it wouldn't let go. He was gone by the end of the week.
A month later, a car showed up in our barn, keys in the ignition, without a word of explanation.
"Guess that goes to show that crime does pay," Grandpa said.
Pa turned around and backhanded him--just like he'd have done with one of us boys.
It was a 1972 Grand Prix. It was silver, once. Pa wouldn't drive it, so it fell to me. I used it to take Ma back and forth to her treatments and for grocery runs. Life got back to normal--cept Joel wasn't there. It was like there was a big hole in the seat beside me. Clyde took his place, but it wasn't the same. There was only four years difference between Joel and me. Clyde--he was ten years younger.
I tried not to think too hard about what Joel had done to earn himself a car for his famly.
Warning! Any reminisces about pre 1975-era muscle cars will result in that car being absorbed into the story. I have room for a few more cars.