To Each Their Own

When Marco came down from Knoxville, we found an old geezer dumping a camper, so we hucked him $450 and he threw in a charcoal grill which we didn’t have a space for. We didn’t need no grill, but we said what the hell and we drove off with it tied to the ladder on the back of the shell. Marco laughed the whole time we was tying it on- the knots looked like birds molting in the sunlight, knobby like hairy fists, gobs of twine all dizzying out where they was frayed, and Marco, he just laughed. He always just laughed at everything.

When Gerald Dalton’s jacket caught on fire when we was smoking behind Merrymen’s in fifth grade, and Doc Merryman accidentally came out of the back of the store and there was Dalt’s arm stuck in the sleeve with the fire crawling up it, Doc ran inside for the seltzer bottle, and Marco hooted and howled while David Zans just stood there staring like a statue, like he ain’t ever seen no fire, while Dalt danced like he had to pee, fire chewing up his jacket. Marco just howled and rolled over on the ground until Merryman kicked at him after he sprayed Dalt and chewed us all out. Marco’s eyes were wet while Doc yelled at us, at him, and he stared at Doc like Doc was a cartoon character in the movie house, getting ready to crack a funny.

When Marco wasn’t busting up while he was hanging with us, though, sometimes he’d go far away in his eyes, like he was sitting on a cloud thinking about something else, somewhere else. I always wondered where he went those times.

His sister Magnes, she never talked to none of us when we was over to see him, to hang out, though. And weird as that was, she didn’t never talked to him either. Not at all. She’d walk through the kitchen when we was snacking or figuring out what we were doing, and she’d just act like we weren’t there. But Marco never said nothing about it. It was like, for him, she wasn’t there neither. They weren’t ugly or mean or nasty or anything. They was just ghosts to each other, which was pretty weird to the rest of us. And we never saw his mom around at all. Marco, I mean, he was the nicest guy. He’d share his dad’s smokes with us, and one time he helped David out big when they was riding bikes and Zans got swiped by a car and his leg was jacked. Marco called Zans’ mom at Siller’s Garage and then walked Zans’ bike home two miles while Mrs. Zans took David to the hospital. Then he visited David every day for two weeks.

So we planned a road trip last summer, me and Marco and Rich Elgin and Zans, and it was some reunion with the boys. Zans worked it to get a week off from his job in Kentucky. He said he just needed to see Marco for a bit. Elgin’s dad didn’t care if he was away from the biz for a while, so Elgin was happy to go roll and chill. He knew Marco from football when we was in high school, though Elgin was two years back, and he remembered Marco getting the big sack on Ed Chambers of St. Athan’s senior year, and Elgin liked knowing Marco. It was summer, we all had time.

So Marco flew in, we picked up the camper, and we rolled from Tampa to Daytona, and to each beach between Daytona and Jacksonville and Tallahassee and Pensacola. Every day was Saturday and we enjoyed the surf and the sun and the bikinis and beer. And once, when the radiator split on the machine outside of Carrabella, no big deal. We broke out the grill hanging off the back of the camper and we cooked some hotdogs by the road until the police dude wheeled up, and Marco gave him some lunch.

Marco was happy, even though he was fighting to get used to the plastic leg. He was good about it, though, and still joked around us no matter where we ended up- on the beach, in the bar. I never got used to seeing that thing on him, but he laughed a lot and we was just glad to all be together. With him. We drank too much maybe. But we was happy that trip, he was happy that trip. It was a really sunny three weeks.

So I was sad to hear that Marco died.

And at the funeral last month, Marco’s sister never quit crying. Zans and I were sad, but afterwards we yacked, and talked to Marco in the sky, and talked to each other about Magnes, and about how she never stopped crying

To each their own, Zans said. To each their own.

Glad we got that three weeks in last summer, Marco.

Yeah, buddy. To each their own.