Hello and welcome back to Tuesday Tales. The world is a sadder place this week after the events that rocked Paris on the weekend, and I have to believe the people who planned these terrible crimes will be caught and punished before any other terrible things happen.
This week, I continue with Hello Again, I love my new cover and it’s filling me with inspiration. The word of the week is CUP.
Charley put down the spoon she still held, tilted her head to the side as she often did when she was contemplating something that didn’t make sense, and stared into the familiar Irish-green eyes she remembered so well. This was all surreal. He looked like Mike, sounded like Mike, even had that good-guy streak a mile wide like Mike, but he wasn’t Mike, and her heart knew it. She just had to keep telling herself that.
“Let me get this straight,” Charley said, excitement building in her despite the fact that the last classic engine she’d rebuilt had led to heartbreak. “You’ll give me a car and if I can fix it I can keep it? What kind is it?”
“It’s a 1971 Chevrolet Impala, 454 cu in 7.4 L Turbo-Jet V8. It belonged to my foster father. It’s been up on blocks in a buddy’s garage for the last six years. It hasn’t been driven in more than fifteen years, so a lot of the parts are probably seized. If you can get in road worthy, you’ve got wheels. That car of yours couldn’t be much younger.”
“Matilda was a 1985 model, Japanese, and as temperamental as you could get.”
“You gave an Australian name to a Japanese car? Why”
“I didn’t name her after an Australian. I named her after Matilda Junkbottom, the smart robot in Dr. Snuggles, one of my favorite television programs growing up. Matilda was cool, just like that car.” She yawned, and sipped again from the cup Shirley had given her. Reality set it. “I appreciate the offer, but I don’t have any tools left, and even if I could fix it, I doubt I can afford the parts right now, but I’ll hold you to this. Once I get settled, I’ll figure a way to make it work. Reconstructing old engines is my favorite part of the job.”
Bill chuckled. “I’ve got tools, Ms. Winters, and you’re welcome to use them, but it’s a two and a half hour drive from Saskatoon to Regina, and while the weather’s good most of the time, you don’t want to get caught out on the highway in a blizzard. I’ve got a friend with a flatbed tow truck. Would the school let you keep the car there to work on it? If you’re teaching mechanics, you might even be able to use it.”
Charley smiled. “I think you should call me Charley. Ms. Winters seems a little formal considering our circumstances. That’s a wonderful idea. You know, that’s the kind of thing Mike would’ve come up with. He was a great problem solver.”
“You really loved him a lot, didn’t you?”
“I did,” she said, feeling a tear run down the side of her face. She swiped at it with the back of her hand. “We didn’t have near enough time together.”
“How long’s he been gone?”
“A little more than five years.”
“Was he killed in Afghanistan?” he asked, pointing to the dog tags she never removed.
They hung at the neckline of the oversized gown, and she reached for them, gripping them, trying to hold onto what she knew she’d lost.
“You’d think that’s where he’d have been in danger, but it wasn’t there. I had nightmares about snipers and roadside bombs, but in the end he died here, because of me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Mike was a motor pool mechanic. That’s what drew us together. We met at university, but it was out love for tinkering with cars that drew us together. Mike always wanted a motorcycle, but with student loans and just starting out, we couldn’t afford one. I found an old 1980 Harley Davidson FXS-80 Lowrider Shovelhead and got it for a song and I gave it to him as a wedding present. He gave me a full set of mechanic’s tools. It was a match made in heaven.”
“I’ll bet it was. It isn’t easy to find someone who understands and enjoys the same things you do.”
Three months after the wedding, he was deployed and I spent the sixteen months he was away rebuilding and restoring that bike. When he got back, it was already for him. I used to convince myself that nothing bad would happen to him as long as I worked on that bike. Shortly after he got back, one of his closest friends was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Paul was scheduled to start treatments the following week, so the Five Amigos, as they called themselves, decided they’d take one last ride together.” She sniffled. “A drunk driver fell asleep at the wheel and crossed into their lane. Mike and Paul were slammed into the face of the escarpment. The three others were badly injured—one will never walk again. The drunk escaped without a scratch. He’s serving a sentence for vehicular manslaughter.”
“I’m so sorry,” Bill said, “but I don’t see why you think you’re to blame.”
“Don’t you?” She raised the cup to her lips once more. “He wouldn’t have had a motorcycle if I hadn’t restored that one. I put him on that bike and he died because of me.” She swiped at the tears on her face. “I’m really tired. Would you carry me back to bed, please?”
“Of course,” he said, standing and picking her up. He carried her into the room and placed her gently on the bed. “Good night, Charley.”
“Goodnight, Bill and thanks again for rescuing me.”
“My pleasure,” he said and left the room.
Well, that’s it for now. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales