The Car Won't CrankbyMSTarot©
"God damn it!" I cuss as I drop the wrench for the fourth time in as many minutes.
"Watch the language young man." I hear my Mom say from above me. Looking up past the engine block I see her leaned over into the car looking down at my face. "God doesn't need a dam, David. He made beavers for that."
"It's okay just stop doing it. Your language has gone into the gutter ever since you went to work. Just because those Neanderthals you work around don't know any better doesn't mean you have to be the same way. Now what are you cussing God for?" She asks.
"I can't get the wrench and the filter to line up. I've got to hold one with two hands and then get to the other at the same time." I pick up the wrench and start trying to fish it up past the muffler pipe and maze of other pipes that are I think part of the cooling system. Hell they could be part of the air-conditioning for all that I know.
"And you're trying to change the oil filter why? David, It's only been about two months since it was changed last." I see her set a bag of groceries down next to the tire by my hip.
"The fuc...the car won't crank. I don't know why it won't start...so I'm trying everything I know how to fix." I get the wrench on the filter again I reach my other hand up again to try and hold the filter steady when I turn it. I see Mom's eyes narrow down then I have to bite my lip as the wrench clatters down through the pipes and hits the concrete next to my side.
"Come out of there." Mom tells me.
I look up past the engine to her, then nod. I push off against the underside of the car and dad's old creeper rolls me out from under the car. As I sit up I see Mom eying the jack under the front shock.
"Okay first off don't you ever get under any car ever again using just the jack to hold it up. Do you hear me?" I look up at my Mom seeing a fire of anger in her eyes. I nod that I understand. I see her face slowly settle into the expression I know means she's missing my dad.
She shakes her head after a second.
"Your father should have taken more time to show you how to work on a car. By the time you were old enough to know a spark-plug from a dipstick he was already getting sick though. I'm sorry I never though about getting one of my brothers to teach you a bit. Here you are eighteen and you can barely change your own oil. Damn."
I look at my Mom shocked. I have only heard her cuss maybe three times in my life.
"Well." She reaches down and grabs back up the grocery bag. "No time like the present. Let me go and put this in the kitchen I'll go get into some old clothes and we will see what's wrong with your car.'
I watch my Mom walk towards the kitchen door. I follow like I've been hit by a hammer.
"You know how to work on a car?"
She looks back over her shoulder at me. Then remembering my manners I get the door for her.
"All my brothers are ten to fifteen years younger than me. Dad wanted someone to teach how to do mechanics works. He didn't know if he would live long enough to teach my brothers."
I know that grandpa had died very young. Somewhere in his late forties I think. Mom's family has a bad history of cancer problems in the men.
With Dad's family it's heart disease.
Like what took him from me before my fourteenth birthday.
Washing the grease from my hands with some dish soap I help Mom put up the groceries. Taking a Coke from the fridge I go back out to the car, while she goes up to her room to change.
I am leaning against the side of it sipping the soda when she comes out the door. The screen hits with a slap.
"Okay. What's it doing?"
I look over at my Mom as she comes over to where I'm standing.
"It won't start." I tell her again.
"Okay, car basics 101 then. A car has an internal combustion engine. Right?"
"Yea." I say not appreciating the sarcasm.
Mom looks at me with an eyebrow slowly rising.
"Better. I was being serious. Now the main word you need to pay attention to in that name is combustion. Fire. Now a fire needs three things yes? Air, fuel, and heat to make the fuel ignite. A car need all of those things."
Mom leans over into the hood and starts undoing the wing nut on the top of the air filter. I watch her working amazed at this beautiful woman yet again.
Pulling off the air-filter she taps the thing under it.
"Okay, this is your carburetor. That's the source of your engine's air. It opens up when you hit the gas and lets air into the motor. That air mixes here with the fuel. Now if this gets out of balance it can need to be adjusted. Your fuel can get too rich or to lean. Either it doesn't have enough air or it has too much. If it's doing either one of those things the car won't start. When it's doing that the car will try to crank. It may even crank for a half-second or so then die. Is that what its doing?"
"No. When I turn the key I get nothing."
She looks thoughtful for a moment.
"Okay then that sounds like spark. Let's check the battery.'
I follow Mom into the garage and watch her looking around.
"I know, Frank, had one. Where the bless did he put it. Ah there it is."
My Mom walks over to the tall shelves dad built and stretches up onto her tiptoes trying to reach what she's after.
The T-shirt she's wearing lifts up past her waist and I see the bare skin of her lower back. Below that my eyes are drawn to the soft round curves of my Mom's ass. I blink as I realize I'm checking her out. It's been several years since that kind of though came to me about her.
Since before Julie.
"David, are you going to stand there all day or are you going to help a lady?"
Walking over I reach up past her and take down the small metal box with the jumper cables and the plug wrapped around it.
I feel my mom pressed up against my chest for several seconds then I step back.
"Okay you bring that I'll grab an extension cord."
I watch mom roll out a long yellow cord to the car. Untwisting the cord from around the box I go to plug it in.
"Don't plug it in till you separate the two wires."
Mom takes the end of the jumper cable looking wires and untwists them. She hooks the black to one pole of the battery and the red to the other.
"Okay now you can plug it in."
When I do the box start to hum.
I follow Mom's gaze down to the little needle on the front of the box.
It slowly drops from six back down towards two. It settles between zero and two giving little twitches.
"Hum. Well the battery is good." Mom taps her lip for a second then reaches over and takes screw driver from the tool box. I watch her touch two metal screws on the side of a square box next to the firewall.
I jump back from the sparks that arch a bit.
I see her step back and start tapping her lip with the handle of the screwdriver.
"Not the solenoid. Could be the starter?" She says after a minute.
"Can we test that? Like the battery?" I ask after a few seconds.
"I can't but they can down at the parts store. We'll have to pull the starter off. Help me find the jack stands."
It takes us about a half-hour to find them back behind a ton of Christmas boxes. By that time we are both dusty and sweaty. She finally spots them hiding behind the bag that holds the old plastic tree.
I jack the car up higher and she slips them under the front end. Turning the knob the jack slips down till the weight of the car is on the stands.
"Somewhere around here we have some tire ramps. If it was running, driving it up onto them would be a lot easier. Find them later if you can."
Mom grabs a large square of carpet from by the garage door and pushes it under the car. I lay back down on dad's old creeper and roll under the car next to her.
"Good lord what idiot engineered this mess."
Look up at the underside of the car I just see the jumble of pipes and wires.
"I'm looking where you're looking but don't see the problem." I say after a second. I notice as she turns to look at me how good she smells. I can make out the scent of her shampoo and the deodorant she wears. There is also a scent that is a woman sweating. I learned of it from Julie.
Mom reaches up to the side of the motor above my head. Her upper arm is nearly against the side of my face. The sweat scent grows.
"They put the starter on a plate under where the exhaust bolts on. You have to unhook the exhaust pipes and drop them out the way to get the starter off.'
I look down the length of pipes to the muffler and the pipes beyond.
"All of it?" I ask after a second's horror at the idea.
"No." she squirms across the carpet on her back a little and reaches further up till her finger touch a metal triangle that leads to a cluster of pipes that's hooked to the side of the engine. "We have to undo these three bolts here and these two at the starter. The rest ought to hang out the way enough to get the starter out."
I reach past her arm to the starter. My bare arm presses against hers. Her skin is warm.
"Where does this wire go?"
"It goes to your battery, but I want you to take off that ring before you do anything else."
I pull my hand back and twist around till I can get my other hand to my class ring. "Sorry I wasn't paying attention. I would hate to mess it up, I paid a lot for it."
"Yes you did." She says then turns over to her side looking at me. "But that's not why. My brother Chris touched his wedding ring to the hot wire of his battery. It superheated in like a second and melted its way down into your uncle's skin. When he tried to pull the hot ring off he yanked half the skin off his finger!"
I think about my uncle Chris and the large white scare on his left hand. Pulling the tight ring off, hard enough to hurt my knuckle, I stuff it into my pocket.
I notice then that Moms not wearing her wedding band either. It's probably the first time I've ever seen her left hand bare.
"In fact go disconnect the hot wire." She says after a moment. As I roll the creeper back out she call up to me. "That's the red one."
I know that much, I think as I twist the terminal free of the post.
As I roll back under the scent of her reaches me again. I see her working a ratchet on a bolt.
"Here you get the next two." She tells me as the first one comes off.
Reaching up past Mom I take hold of the wrench, she put it into place, our hands touching in passing. I strain to apply pressure against the heat stuck bolt. It moves with a snap pop then becomes a lot easier. When it comes free I try to move the wrench but again my hand is to big to get it seated right. Mom reaches up around my arm and moves the socket till it finds the right hole. I slip it in tight against the metal and starts turning it. Like the first one, the heat from the exhaust has all but fused it over the years.
As I'm applying pressure I notice I'm looking down the front of my mom top. I can see the white swell of one breast pushing up her bra because of the angle she is laying. She reaches up past me then and I feel her hand close on the bottom part of the wrench.
"Keep it straight when your turning or you will shear off the bolt."
She holds it steady as I apply more pressure to the bolt. My shoulder I'm lying on slips a bit and I find my head for a second rested against her chest. Her breasts are a soft warm pillow under my cheek.
Lifting up a bit I feel the bolt shift just a bit then turn free. My mom's breath is hot against the side of my neck. Then she moves.
Lying back onto the creeper I turn enough to see a second set of 'U' shaped bolt holding the exhaust pipe up.
"Do those need to come off?" I ask pointing.
Mom kind of back-crawls a bit and looks over her shoulder. I watch the way her breasts shake when she moves with a growing interest. I catch her eye before she can see where I was looking. I hope.
She gives a kind of deep sigh.
"Yea. You might as well. It will give us a bit more play in the pipes to get the starter off."
Rolling the creeper around her I loosen the two big 'U's out the way. When I turn I get a down the sleeve shot of her breast, it leaves me starring for a second. After a moment she turns to look over at me.
"You done? Well get back up here. I'm showing you how to do this, not doing it for you."
I slide back till I'll laying with my head next to hers, our shoulders almost touching. I reach up past the pipes and take the socket wrench from her. I feel her fingers almost linger against mine. Well maybe not but that's the way it feels.
"You got it?" she asks next to me.
I turn my head to answer and find myself with my face almost against hers. My lips are but inches from my Mom's and I feel an almost overwhelming compulsion to lean those last inches in and kiss her. Some of it must show on my face because I see her blink and pull back just a bit.
"Can you get it off by yourself now?"
I have to keep my lips from twitching as what she said makes a very naughty thought comes to mind. The fact that I can feel myself at half hard tells me I cold sure use a bit of relief.
"Yea I think so."
"Good." Mom starts to shoulder walk out from under the car. "I'm going to clean up a bit and I'll call the parts store and let them know were coming down to test this. 79 Caprice right?"
I'm looking out from under the car when my mother turns over to her hands and knees and I see her breast shake from side to side down the throat of her T-shirt.
After she walks away and I hear the side door snap shut I give my head a shake.
I reach up and get the last two bolts off then wiggle fight the starter and it's metal plate out from under the still tight exhaust pipes. When I finally get it, I take a wrench and undo the battery wire.
The little car part is hardly bigger than a shoe but heavy. Not terrible heavy, but heavy. I place it on the creeper next to me and push out from under the car.
A double beep sounds from by the door and I snap my head to the side when the trunk of mom's car pops open by itself. When I look back to the side door I see her smirking.
"You're way to fond of that little button." I tell her after a second.
She smiles and presses another making the horn blow behind me. It doesn't startle me as much, She's been doing that trick for months now.
I place the starter on a towel in her trunk and go inside to clean up. I see a bottle of orange hand cleaner sitting by the sink. It's got old grease prints down one side and new ones down the other. The newer ones are a lot smaller.
I stop for a second before I pick it up, my eyes looking at this little reminder that my Dad lived. The last few years without him have been hardest on Mom but I've been right there with her myself.
I hear a sniffle just as my fingers close around the side my mom held. I don't want the other marks to go away, not ever.
When I look back over my shoulder I see Mom by the doorway. She has changed back into the clothes she was wearing and is busy wiping a tear from the side of her eye with her thumb.
"...nothing. Get your hands cleaned then go change into something. I don't want grease in my new car. We'll get us something to eat while where out. Burgers or something."
Mom walks away with the bustle of energy she uses to hide it when she's on the edge of crying her eyes out.
I look back to the fingerprints Dad left. There are so many things like them around the house. Little fingerprints of him... little lost memories.
Like he left a thousand reminders of himself here to watch after us.
As I clean my hands I wonder what he would think if he knew I had just spent the last half-hour or so eyeballing his wife. I can almost hear him laughing. He always used to tease me whenever he caught me looking at the girls at the pool or at the lake.
Hell it was his 'push on the back' that got me to go talk to Julie.
Feeling again the heartache from that brake up I don't think I should thank him for that moment.
A clean shirt and my half clean blue jeans with a pair of my pull on tennis shoes and I'm good to go.
Mom is of course waiting outside for me. I see her eyes lingering on the covered car sitting out by the edge of the driveway. The red and white sign on the windshield, offering it for sale. There haven't been a lot of offers.
I want the car but Mom said no. That there was no way she could bear to see me driving it. I had thought that unfair but I...I guess she is right.
The little Toyota cranks with a thrum and she gives it a slight pump of the pedal, making it rev, she does it again when she pulls it forward. I eye her with a chuckle.
"Cha-Cha Muldowny over there." I say with a grin.
She gives me back a shocked look.
"How do you know about her?"
"Watched, Heart like a Wheel, the other night."
Mom stops the car by the end of the driveway. I look over at the covered car beside us.
"That was one of your Dad's favorites." She looks down the street and pulls us out. The little car more hums than purrs.
"I remember." I say softly my face pressed against the cool glass of my window.
We ride in silence towards the parts store each traveling with our own thoughts for company.
I miss my Dad.
I can imagine her thoughts are very similar.
After the first mile of silence mom reaches a finger across the wheel a bit, hits a button and turns on the stereo. I hear her favorite country singer start warbling about losing his truck, his car, his trailer, his girl...but a least he still has his dog and a beer.
"Could we find a closer parts store?" I ask when the headache starts to form.
She looks over at me with a dirty look. Still without taking her hand off the wheel she volumes it up another notch.
Shaking my head I bite down on the words she doesn't like to hear me say.
I count the miles to the part store now in inches!
"Oh thank God." I mutter under my breath when we turn off the main road.
The little car hums to a stop in the part store parking lot. I've seriously been tempted to either jump out before she stops, slit my wrists, or maybe go 'honky tonkin round this town' for the last half mile.
It's one of the three!
Probably not the last.
I can smell the oil and I guess the scent of ten thousand pine tree air fresheners as I step inside. Mom is right behind me.
I hand the guy behind the counter the starter and then wander over to look at the cool stickers while mom disappears off behind the racks.
I've just picked out a nice looking one with a wolf when a book whaps me in the small of my back.
Turning around, she pushes it against my chest.
"Here Grumpy." She say letting it go just as I take it.
"I'm not grumpy." I say ...grumpily.
"Which dwarf are you then?"
Looking down at her five foot four self from my full six-foot height I lift an eyebrow.
"If anyone's a dwarf here..."
"Well you're sure not Prince Charming." She smiles, give a tilt of her head, then walks off towards the counter.
I look down then at the book she handed me.
Chilton manual for Chevrolet Caprice 1977 thru 81.
"Well that will help." I say to myself as I go to follow.
Thumbing through it I start to get a sick feeling as I see how many ways my car can break down.
"Well...it was the starter." She tells me when I join her.
"So they got one? Here I mean." I ask after a moment.
She gives me a look
"Yea they have one. Where else would you find the part?" she asks.
"The Chevy dealership."
She gives a chuckle and a shake of her head.
"Only if you want to pay a damn fortune for it."
"Wow two curse word in one day. That's got to be a record for you." I say grinning.
"It's the sewer mouth I'm keeping company with. Now pay the man."
Looking up at the grinning guy in the blue shirt I dig out my wallet.