Beer on Ice

Frank Freeman

They were in the station wagon at the corner of Western and Osage with his little half-brother in the baby seat between him and his step-mother who was driving. The light turned green and his step-mother gunned it out into the intersection—she was agitated about something, in a hurry—and then there was an explosion to their left and they were slowly spinning to the right or that whole part of Amarillo that had been in front of them, the Whataburger and the strip mall, spun away from them while they sat motionless as the world blew apart around them and later he would think it really did seem as if it was happening in slow motion and his step-mother was crying and moaning and he was holding his little brother who was screaming too and steam was hissing up from under the crumpled hood and he could smell antifreeze as if it had been piped into his nostrils and people from the Whataburger ran out and opened the doors and there was glass all over the street and he was amazed because the short left turn signal light had been knocked down and they walked into the Whataburger and his step-mother said to call his dad and then they were sitting in the Whataburger and Dr. Longenecker, their dentist, was suddenly there with his arm around his step-mother and she was crying and he was wondering if Dr. Longenecker should have his arm around his step-mother’s shoulders, wasn’t that something only Dad should do? And the kid in the Toyota pick-up with beer on ice in several coolers in the bed of his truck followed them into the Whataburger and kept saying, “The light couldn’t have been red, it just couldn’t have! I know it wasn’t!” And they just sort of looked at him and then away. And he was holding his little half-brother and later they said when the truck hit them it broke the baby chair and he had caught his little half-brother but he could never remember that. But he could remember that he was a young teenager and had a crush on his step-mother and maybe it was jealousy he felt when Dr. Longenecker put his arm around her and maybe God was punishing them, her for being in a hurry and ashamed because maybe she had a crush on him too, and him for having such a crush, but God had saved them because of the little brother, this had just been a warning. And meanwhile the kid kept going on and on about how the light had to have been green, that he would lose his license if it wasn’t, he already had too many tickets, and they just looked at him and then away and said nothing.


Frank Freeman’s poetry has been published in Maine Sunday Telegram, The American Journal of Poetry, The Aroostook Review, The Axe Factory, The Decadent Review, The New York Quarterly, SN Review, and Tiger’s Eye. His book reviews and essays have appeared in many venues. He grew up in Texas, Connecticut, and California, but mostly Texas. Moved to Boston for grad school, married a Maine woman who wanted Maine back. House, kids, dog, cat, chickens, small family business. Writes in the mornings to stay sane, keeps the books of family business in afternoons.