A father needs to have a secret room to do whatever it is that a father does in his secret room, so ours turned the oil-changing pit (six feet deep, eight feet long, three-and-a-half feet wide) in the garage into his secret room. It is covered up by three long wooden boards, the outer two of which he would carefully place on the edges at the pit’s opening. The center board he never removed, only shifting just enough to fit himself. He filled his pit with National Geographic magazines dating back to 1936, rudimentary pencil sketches of our mother, dried walnut husks, hideous gremlin statues, various hand tools, and two inscribed World War II-era accordions. He used an aged kerosene lamp to read A Farewell to Arms, the only book we ever caught him reading. If the power went out during a storm, he would manually crank open the garage door, climb into his beloved 1989 red Ford Probe, flip on slick headlights which jutted out from the hood, reverse into the driveway, and park directly beneath the shoddy-but-sturdy plywood canopy he built himself just so he could manually crank the garage door closed and slip into the dark privacy of his oil-changing pit while rain and lightning raged beyond its cozy confines, to do whatever it is that a father does in his secret room.
(originally published in Dual Coast Magazine, Issue #2)