birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

The Truck and The Vow

It was a summer evening and I had just returned from assisting my photographer friend "S" photograph a sea-side wedding. I had forgotten that moisture is the kryptonite to kinky hair and my wild blown-out natural hair-style had slowly shrunk during the wedding into a large compact afro.

Later, I find myself sitting at a café in Leimert Park waiting for my order of something hot to drink. My shrunken afro with a flower safely secured somewhere in the side of its massiveness is maintaining its awesomeness, when another photographer friend, "D" shows up. He joins me and we sit and talk, catching up because it's really been a long while and somewhere during our conversation I mention I don't have a car. "D" sits back in his chair and tells me that he has a truck he no longer wants, and my heart swells, as I need a ride - any ole ride - and I'll happily take my daughter to school in a truck any day.

When I ask him the price, he begins a story: A few years back he is in need of a car and his friend gives him a Toyota truck. The truck is a gift with one stipulation, if you receive the truck, you cannot sell it, as you received it for free, therefore you must give it away for free. "D" tells me he accepts the truck and the vow from his friend who had received the truck from an old man who made him promise to never sell the truck.

I'm listening to the story and my eyes are wide. I know what is coming and I can't believe my luck. My friend "D" received a truck for free from a friend who received the truck for free from an old [man] and they both agreed to never sell the truck and to only give it away for free. I am next in line! "D" tells me that if I want the truck, he'll bring it over for me to test drive. I am in shock. God is good, I scream to myself.

I meet "D" a day or so later in the parking lot next to my apartment building and I test drive the truck. It is a dark color, with two seats and I quickly think of how I will make this work with my belongings and my daughter's belongings and quickly recover when I remind myself the truck is free. I drive the truck in the parking lot with "D" by my side and when I stop, I look at him and smile. I want the truck, I tell him.

"D" says ok, then looks at me and tells me he first has to research a good price for the car. I stare at him and ask him to repeat himself. He tells me that he knows he can get a great price for the car and that he needs to research the price and he'll get back to me.

I'm in shock. I remind him of his vow, his promise. I stutter as I recall aloud the old man, his friend, and "D" nods knowingly yet is firm in his decision to sell the truck to me for a price. I am sick to my stomach and feel hate rise from the soles of my feet. It is all I can do to slowly pull up the lock and pull back the door release and slowly remove myself from his truck. I smile half-heartedly and ask him to call me with the price.

In disbelief, I walk home and open the Auto Trader that sits on my dresser and look for cars. I find a Toyota Camry in the paper and circle it. I make plans to drive to Compton to buy the Camry. I'd rather pay a stranger a couple grand for a car than a friend who is a liar and lacks integrity.

At the car dealership the next day, just before I sign the contract and pay for the car, I ask to be excused. I call "D" and ask him if he has reconsidered. He told me no, he hadn't reconsidered and he wanted three-thousand dollars for the truck. I held my phone to my ear for a very long time and let out a laugh in disbelief. I hang up, go inside, and pay two-thousand dollars for the Toyota Camry.

Lesson Learned

Me, Men, Mental.