Just a note to let you know this writing is a work in progress. For that reason there is a change in this post's title.
4. Fall’s Chill
It was Saturday afternoon, in late fall, and with winter coming there was a sharp chill in the air. The usual traffic threaded the streets in the dark colors of a small conservative farming community. Utility farm trucks – grain trucks, cattle trucks – and the odd town car in the conservative colors of black, navy blue, middling brown, and, of course, in the mix were a the usual allotment of old beaters with rusted fenders and rattling doors.
But then, what’s this I see? Here comes a sleek new car down main street. And it’s not conservative blue but a stunning silvery-blue chromed up like a sparkling gem. Like sun, blue water, sea foam and oxygen all mixed together.
Immediately I thought of Gary. Wishing he was there with me to see it. He would love, love, love it. With all that polish and shine. The motor humming so softly. Stealth-like, almost soundless, except for the soft duet of motor sounds and wheels scrunching on pavement grit. And with wheel hubs flashing in the sun.
Man, it was an exquisite car. Gary would have gazed and smiled in utter delight and laughed till he had me laughing as well. I just knew it.
It was lovely. As delightful as Gary’s smile. I saw the car regularly over the next few weeks, but Gary was never there to share that sight with me. Come to think of it, I hadn’t seen Gary for two or three weeks. In fact, not since that first day I had seen the new dream car in town.
Of course the only reasonable explanation for why I hadn’t seen Gary was that he must have finally found regular work for his truck. That was good. That was what he hoped for. What with regular truck break-downs and sporadic hauls, he kept smiling, but he told me he was falling behind in his payments.
I knew too, with winter approaching, that Gary would soon need to find a warm hole in someone’s basement to nest in for the winter that could parallel the economics of a roll of sausage and a loaf of bread. I also knew with equal certainty that no matter how dire his situation, he would not go home or move back in with his dad.
But I couldn’t help worrying about Gary. Last time I saw him, he had a terrible chest cold that worried me, and I was certain that temperatures between dusk and dawn posed a threat of pneumonia if he continued to sleep in his truck.
Doctors say colds are never caused by marrow-seeping cold. They insist they are only caused by viruses. And yeh, sure thing, if you live in a world of controlled heat that is undoubtedly true. But if you live in a gravel truck, colds ARE caused from the cold. No viruses—too cold for viruses—only the cold.
But despite Gary’s free-spirited thinking, he had a will to survive as strong as any others. Besides he still visited the old hag at the service station and as much distaste as I had for her, I knew she would not let Gary loose if he came to her with a hacking cough and a fever. She would do something to remedy that.
So I quickly dismissed fears of Gary being deathly ill and reasoned that however long it took before I would see Gary again, I could wait it out.
Meanwhile, each time I saw the silvery sleek car, I checked out the driver. She was a stranger in town. A woman in her early twenties named Charlotte.
Charlotte had an arrogant turned-up nose and straight blunt-cut platinum-blonde hair. I would have formed no pro or con opinions but I couldn’t help but feel disgust when I saw her driving that beaut of a car around town with craned neck and her pointy nose aimed at street lamps rather than the road in front of her. If she had any charm, which I was certain she didn’t, it was only what she extracted by default from the ownership of that car.
But we weren’t talking about her, we were talking about Gary and it was beginning to seem that Gary had disappeared right off the face of the earth. There were too many days tracking one after another that soon turned into weeks and still no word from Gary. And of course with the transient kind of life he led, either on the road, or holed up in his truck somewhere, it was quite impossible for me to seek him out.
There was nothing for it but to wait for him to contact me. Hopefully it would be soon. My heart was beginning to ache for his warm smile. And my soul beginning to yearn for the heady joy I always found in his company. Each day I rose with hope that I would see him, and each night when I went to sleep I was forced to transfer that hope to the morrow.
But then one afternoon, several weeks later, I saw Charlotte’s shiny silvery-blue car at the end of the block. I saw it lurch to a sudden squealing stop at the corner. And as it headed round the corner and up the street, I saw it skid into an uncontrolled temporary zig-zag as wheels spun and dust flew. By God, the woman must be stupid drunk.
I was so surprised. Particularly because every other time I had seen her driving about, it was always slowly with the greatest of caution and care.
And furthermore, if that was Charlotte in the driver’s seat, she certainly looked much taller today. Today she wasn’t craning her neck and pointing her nose at street lamps. But the sun was low on the horizon and in the naughty glare of dust and sun, it was hard for me to see who was in the driver’s seat.
The tinted windshield and lowered sun visor hid most of the driver’s face. I could only see the lower part of the jaw. But what I could see was two lips locked in a happy grin. My heart caught in my mouth.
It was Gary. Alone in the blue cruiser and in the driver’s seat. Did you hear what I said? Gary was in the driver’s seat!
A sharp pain like a striking bullet flashed in my chest. My heart exploded into a million, zillion little pieces. How could he? Why would he?
Fall's chill slammed the marrow in my bones.
NEXT POST: The Theft Caper
(Am I rambling too much or do I still have a reader or two?)