John made a cork from a bottle of wine disappear.
It was simple sleight of hand. He was used to quarters however, so the palming was awkward, sloppy. Tommy was always better at the misdirection. It didn’t make sense, John had practiced more.
John took another pull, feeling the wine burn. He made the cork disappear again. Still too sloppy. Tommy would be disappointed in him. The wine helped his frustration at the failure.
“You two used to practice your tricks out here,” John looked up, startled from his dark reverie by his mother’s approach. She pointed at the abandoned bus, where John sat in the open rear door. “didn’t you?”
“Yeah.” He didn’t want to talk. He wanted to sit, drink and make himself disappear.
“I remember when you first found it, you and Tommy brought blankets out here. Wanted to spend the night camping in it. I swore you’d get tetanus. Told your dad to tow the old damn thing off our land.” Her voice broke.
“Look John,” she cut him off, her voice strong again. “No one blames you. You made a mistake. Sitting out here, drinking yourself stupid in the shade of a happy memory, is ok for today. But tomorrow, you’ll put on your black suit, and you’ll come to the funeral. Tommy would want that.”
John didn’t answer, taking another drink. She sighed with resignation and walked away, back to the house. He watched her go, wanting to call out. To say sorry, to say anything to fix this. He just watched.
He palmed the cork again, cleanly this time. Tommy would be proud.
It didn’t mean anything. But as he leaned back into the cool metal of the bus, it was enough for the moment.