and we drove through the mountains

erything went according to plan. I bought food and made meals for Brian, Maureen, and me. It had been almost a year since the welfare man had scared us into cleaning the house, and it was once again an unholy mess. Mom would have had a fit if I had thrown anything out, but I spent hours straightening up and trying to organize the huge stacks of junk.
Dad usually stayed out at night until we wereinbed, and he would still be asleep when we got up and left in the morning. But one afternoon about a week after Mom cheap nike air max had gone to Charleston, he caught me alone in the house.
„Hon, I n nike air max 95 eed some money,“ he said.
„For what?““Beer and cigarettes.““I’ve got sort of a tigh cheap nike air max 90 t budget, Dad.““I don’t need much. Just five dollars.“That was two days’ worth of food. A half gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, two cans of jack mackerel, a small bag of apples, and some popcorn. And Dad wasn’t even doing me the honor of pretend nike air max classic ing he needed the money for something useful. He also didn’t argue or wheedle or cajole or ratchet the charm way up. He simply waited for me to fork over the cash, as if he knew I didn’t have it in me to say no. And I didn’t. I took out my green plastic change purse and pulled out a crumpled five and passed it over slowly.
„You’re a doll,“ Dad said and gave me a kiss.
I pulled my head back. Giving him that money pissed me off. I was mad at myself but even madder at Dad. He kn nike air max 90 sale ew I had a soft spot for him the way no one else in the family did, and he was taking advantage of it. I felt used. The girls at school always talked about how this or that guy was a user and how such and such a girl got used, and now I understood, from deep inside, the meaning of that word.
When Dad asked me for another nike air max 90 five bucks a few days nike air max 1 later, I gave it to him. It made me feel sick thinking I was now ten dollars off budget. In a few more days, he asked for twenty.
„Twenty dollars?“ I couldn’t believe Dad was pushing me this far. „Why twenty?““Goddammit, since when do I have to explain myself to my children?“ Dad asked. In the next breath, he told me that he had borrowed a friend’s car and needed to buy gas so he could drive to Gary for a business meeting. „I need money cheap air max 90 to make money. I’ll pay you back.“ He cheap nike air max trainers looked at me, defying me to disbelieve him.
„I’ve got bills piling up,“ I said. I heard my voice growing shrill, but I couldn’t control it. „I’ve got kids to feed.““Don’t you worry about food and bills,“ Dad said. „That’s for me to worry about. Okay?“I put my hand in my pocket. I didn’t know if I was reaching for my money or trying to protect i nike air max sale t.
„Have I ever let you down?“ Dad asked.
I’d heard that question at least two hundred times, and I’d always answered it the way I knew he wanted me to, because I thought it was my faith in Dad that had kept him going all those years. I was about to tell him the truth for the first time, about to let him know that nike air max he’d let us all down plenty, but then I stopped. I couldn’t do it. Dad, meanwhile, was saying he was not asking me for the money; he was telling me to give it to him. He needed it. Did I think he was a liar when he said he’d get it back to me?
I gave him the twenty dollars.
* * *That Saturday, Dad told me that to pay me back, he had to earn the money first. He wanted me to accompany him on a business trip. He said I needed to wear something nice. He went through m cheap nike air max y dresses hanging from the pipe in t he bedroom and picked out one with blue flowers that buttoned up the front. He had borrowed a car, an old pea-green Plymouth with a broken passenger-side window, and we drove through the mountains to a nearby town, stopping at a roadside bar.

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