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The Search

Where is the car? Jude awoke with a dull headache, a gluey sensation in the undersides of his lips, and this question. It had snowed in the night. He got up, or halfway up, knelt on his bed, leaned forward, steadying himself with his elbows and forearms against the window pane in front of him. The cars, like indistinguishable lumpy cakes crudely assembled and iced by young children, sat in a line on the right side of his narrow street. If his car were one of the ones in that line, in this block, he would be all right. Parking was allowed on one side of the street each morning so that the snow ploughs could clear the other. The no parking thing alternated. But where was the car? Wait, what day was it? He had been to a party the night before, and he wasn’t sure he’d driven home. The party had been a few blocks away, though he wasn’t sure where. He shouldn’t have driven home, that much was clear. He must have driven to the party from the airport where he’d picked up his brother.

Speaking of whom: where was Jeremy? He frowned at the extra blanket and pillow, which lay untouched on the hide-a-bed.


Silence. Then, the sound of Madame Rivard, who lived upstairs, calling her cat. “Pôpô!” Then silence again.

Jude rarely used his car, apart from special assignments like picking up his younger brother when he visited, or stocking up on toilet paper and canned tomatoes at Costco, or hauling his bass to his band’s infrequent but impressively remote gigs. Because of the latter, he could write off the car as an expense, even if it was hard to justify for any other reason: a 1989 Buick LeSabre, a big creaking hulk of rusting black metal, about as fuel efficient as a bus. He pulled a pair of blue jeans over his boxers, examined a brown cotton sweater for stains, sniffed its armpits and his own, pulled the sweater over his head, matched two of the socks under his bed, and wondered again vaguely where Jeremy was. He wished Jeremy were here, making coffee. Jeremy had better not be expecting him to make him coffee whenever he decided to come back.

He pulled on his khaki army surplus parka, put on his boots and started to go down to the street when he heard his mother’s voice telling him to put on a hat and a pair of gloves. Well, Mum had died when she was fifty-two, so so much for hats and gloves. He ran down the stairs.

Where’s your brother?

I don’t know, Mum.

Where is the car?

The car had belonged to his dad, an architect who drank at night, also dead.

That’s going to be even harder, Mum.

Outside, he gazed hopelessly at the line of cars. He heard a voice, a real one, call his name. Up a block and a half, across the street.

Jude followed the voice and finally spotted Jeremy, leaning out a window over the laundromat, unmistakable with his unfashionably long curly hair and his even more unfashionable cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. When they were younger, Jeremy had looked up to Jude, and Jude had been the ultimate protector.

“You spent the night there?”

“Yup,” Jeremy said, grinning.

“Not with a chick.”

“Yes, with a chick.”

“Come off it Jeremy. Whose apartment is that?”

“I think, I think…her name is Rita.”

“Yeah, right. Where is this chick?”

“At work. Not far from here. She’s a meter maid.”


“No really. This is like, her beat, I think they call it. Hey, I think your car got towed away, man.”

“Dude! What?”

“Yeah, yeah. She wrote a ticket, put it on your windshield. Hey did you know they tow cars here?” He tapped the ashes off his cigarette. Jude ducked as they fell and made a tiny, dark shallow hole in the snow below. His brother’s head retreated from the window and in a moment he was downstairs, in a parka like his, only blue. Jeremy’s eyes were like his, brown, but like their mother’s, flecked with green. Jeremy was exactly half his mother’s age when she died. We’d better hurry up; we don’t have much time to grow up.

“You slept with a meter maid?”

“Let’s go get a coffee.”

Jeremy was obviously enjoying himself, maybe more than he had enjoyed himself the night before. Jeremy never put much effort into anything; Jude couldn’t see how a guy like that could even enjoy being with a woman that much.

“Isn’t a meter maid a kind of cop? What would a cop be doing with a bad boy like you?” Jude glanced at his brother as they began to walk through the snowy streets. I haven’t shaven in a couple of days, but he’s going on day six, I bet.

They came to the corner diner.

“It’s kind of pretty, the snow,” Jeremy said. He paused at the door and turned and waved his hands around. “It’s so magical.”

Jude mumbled “whatever” again and left his brother to his gesticulations outside. He ordered coffee, sat at a table at the front and watched Jeremy through the window. He wondered how much the ticket and the towing would cost. He tried to remember a woman called Rita from the party, but could not remember anything at all. Then, in a flash, he remembered leaving, stumbling a bit as he came down a staircase, and being outside the laundromat.

His brother had never left the party.

“Abracadabra!” Jeremy was shouting, his voice only half-muffled by the thick paned window. With his cigarette still in his mouth, he began drawing letters in the snow piled on the side windows of a parked car.

“Fucker?” Jude read aloud, but then, just as he recognized the stylish curve of the window frames, made out, “sucker”. He laughed, and pounded on the window. He might leave his car there forever; it wasn’t worth the bother.


Anita Anand lives in Montreal, Canada.  Her stories and essays have appeared in, the Louisiana Review and  the Toronto Globe and Mail.

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