One Better Than The Next
by Robert Scotellaro

"Ooo, look at that one," my father says, with a child's wonder, pointing to a huge saguaro cactus, one among many (a desert full) as we drive on to the red foothills of Sedona—three generations stuffed in my small Honda.

My 16-year old ignores him, if he can hear him at all—the rap music he's listening to, tinny through headphones—a street litany accented by off-rhymes and obscenities.

"Your grandfather's talking to you," I say, nudging him.


"You're grandfather's pointing out the cactuses," I say louder.

He looks out the window at the sparse terrain punctuated by the massive assemblage of prickly green arms poised skyward; shoots me a dirty look.  "That's nice Grandpa," he says.

In two years my father will be in a diaper, scraping his toothbrush across a carton of ice cream to brush his teeth (chocolate, not even vanilla)—with the startled look of one who dwells in that netherworld where a newness glistens, blindingly, to all that was familiar.

They are moving in opposite directions—my son eager to be a man; my father quickly loosing purchase, slipping back.  There were always different coasts between them—the one cynical when the other filled with wonder.  And now it reverses.

My son adjusts the headphones and shuts his eyes.

This is a last sweet time, crumbling fast.  "Look at that one," I say, pointing, as we zip by.

"Yeah," my father says, his head half out the window like our old dog Baxter—the wind stealing away some of his breath.  "One better than the next."

Robert Scotellaro's work has appeared, or is scheduled to appear, in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including Long Story Short, Ghoti, VerbSap, 971 Menu, Boston Literary Magazine, The Laurel Review, Red Rock Review, Macmillan and Oxford University Press anthologies and elsewhere.  He is the author of several literary chapbooks, three books for children, and the recipient of Zone 3's Rainmaker Award.  He lives in California with his wife and daughter. Contact Robert.

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