tagNovels and NovellasHis Daddy's Car

His Daddy's Car


Chapter One - Tuesday

Watching the semi-truck driving away down the street, Bobby apologized on his cell phone to his sister Francis about being late. "I'm locking the house and leaving right now," he told her as he looked at the clock. "How long do you think it will take me to get there, and what's the best route? I don't want to just trust the GPS."

It had taken the movers from Florida longer than expected to arrive at his new rental in Leon Valley, a suburb enclosed within the city of San Antonio, Texas and then unload the semi containing his furniture and the Corvair. Bobby was once again relieved that he had decided to bring all of his boxed possessions with him in the back of his pick-up truck. He was able to unpack all his dishes, linens, and clothes while waiting for the heavy stuff to arrive.

Francis said, "We have to leave shortly for Joey's baseball practice. Jason just got home and we're almost out the door. Why don't you meet us at the practice and you can follow us home from there?"

She gave him directions that seemed pretty simple to follow and said, "Think of the I-410 loop as the face of a clock. Right now you're at approximately ten o'clock. Just take the loop around until you get to a little past three o'clock and then jump onto US 87 south. You'll know you're heading the right way if a Doobie Brothers song pops into your head."

Bobby asked, "Any particular song?"

Francis told him, "You'll know it when you see it. Anyway, once you cross over into Wilson County you'll go about five more miles until you reach La Vernia. It's not a big town, and the signs for the park are pretty easy to follow. That's where we'll be."

"I'm on my way," said Bobby as he ended the call.

After locking up his house, Bobby stepped off his front porch and made a quick decision. His 2010 Dodge Ram was sitting in his drive, but he hadn't cleaned all the fast food cups and wrappers out of it since his drive from Florida. His bright red 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza convertible was sitting along the curb in front of his house where the movers had off-loaded it. It was a no-brainer for Bobby as he trotted out to the Corvair and proceeded to lower the convertible top. He would need to stop and get some gas real soon, but he had seen several gas stations between his new rental house and the freeway entrance he would need to take.

Bobby pulled into a Valero station along Bandera Road that he thought would be the easiest to get in and out of, and keep him pointed in the right direction. As he began pumping gas into the tank, he thought back to the first time he had put gas in this car...

Bobby had grown up in Cypress, California playing little league, hanging with friends at the beach, Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and other local attractions when they weren't in school. When he got older, Bobby took up surfing, but he never got enough opportunities to ride the waves because of baseball, school, and work. He worked part time at a local electronics shop -- first disassembling items that required repair, and then eventually he did the troubleshooting and repairs entirely.

From the time Bobby realized that his 16th birthday meant he would be able to get a driver's license, he wanted his own car. However, like everything else in his life, his father wanted him to earn it himself. With this philosophy of life in mind, his father surprised Bobby on his sixteenth birthday when he presented him with a beat up old 1965 Corvair Monza convertible. The engine and drive train were in great condition and the car had less than 50,000 miles on the odometer, but it had sat basically abandoned alongside a house in the high desert for several years. As a result, the convertible rag top, upholstery, and most of the interior were deteriorated from exposure to the elements, the paint was oxidized beyond belief, the tires were rotted, and the body needed some TLC.

His father intended for the restoration of the car to be the price Bobby had to pay in order to earn the right to drive it. His father felt that the sweat and time that Bobby would put into the restoration of the car would give him a level of appreciation that would foster a more responsible attitude towards the car and his time behind the wheel of it. The summer between his sophomore and junior year of high school Bobby sacrificed time with his friends at the beach so that he could work the mornings at the electronics shop, and then be home to work on his car by the time his father got off work to help him. Every cent that Bobby earned went into his car.

The day before Bobby was supposed to start his junior year of high school, he handed his father a one hundred dollar bill and said, "Thanks dad for adding me to your insurance. Here's my portion of the premium. I really appreciate you helping me get insured before school starts."

Bobby's father folded the bill and placed it into his shirt pocket as he said, "You earned a break Bobby. I hope you're as proud of that car as I am of you. How are you fixed for gas money? Now that you're clear to drive it, can you feed it?"

Bobby smiled as he replied, "I have five dollars set aside for that very purpose. Plus, I get paid on Wednesday, so I should be set. If it's okay with you, I'd like to go get some gas tonight so I won't have to rush on the way to school in the morning."

His dad squeezed Bobby's shoulder, took his wallet out of his pocket and handed Bobby a credit card. "First fill-up's on me and your mom," he said. "Drive safe."

Bobby hugged his dad and said, "Always. Thanks dad."

The memory of sliding his dad's credit card into the pump on that warm Southern California evening never failed to bring a smile to Bobby's face. Hidden between pages of the owner's manual in the glove box was another reminder of his dad's generosity and love. The very same hundred dollar bill that Bobby had handed his father that night was presented to Bobby on the day he left for the Air Force Academy, along with a savings account passbook showing a balance of more than $2,000. His parents had paid his insurance all through high school and banked his contributions without him knowing. Even though Bobby knew his car too well to ever need to reference the owner's manual, he opened it frequently just to see the reminder of his father's love.

Replacing the cap on his tank and returning the hose to the pump, Bobby thought briefly of hopping into the driver's seat without opening the door. The thought of how he used to do that dredged up other memories. Memories that took the smile from his face and sent him down a melancholy road he had traveled for the past ten years.

Bobby lived far enough from his high school that he was on one of the bus routes, but he always chose to walk rather than ride the bus. It meant he had to leave a little earlier each day, but that all changed once he was allowed to drive his own car. Driving to school the first day of his junior year, Bobby did allow himself a little extra time. He knew that he would have to park in the visitor's lot until he went to the office and obtained a permit that would allow him to park in the student lot. On the first day of school, the visitor lot, as well as the office, was likely to be crowded, so he wanted to get there early. As he suspected, he was lucky to find one open spot in the visitor lot. He quickly took it, grabbed his vehicle registration, and headed to the office.

The office was busy, but most of the activity was at the counter for Attendance issues. Bobby headed to the counter for the school cashier and found himself the only one in line. He quickly completed the application for the parking permit and allowed the secretary to make a copy of his registration and student ID card. When she handed them back to Bobby, they were accompanied by a blue and white parking permit sticker. Bobby thanked her and started out of the office to return to his car.

As he was opening the door to exit, someone on the outside was pulling it trying to come in. Their joint "push-pull" efforts had Bobby lurching forward and the other person stumbling backwards. Bobby stopped his motion and the momentum of the other person's pulling allowed the door to swing open. Bobby finally caught sight of the other person, but it wasn't anyone he recognized. She had maintained her balance, but was standing in an awkward pose, still holding onto the door for support. As she straightened up, Bobby spoke to her, "I'm sorry. They really should put windows in these doors so we can see if someone is on the other side."

The girl looked up at him and smiled when she said, "But that would make too much sense, so I doubt it will happen. Right?"

"What amazing eyes!" Bobby thought. Sure, the ice blue color was unique, but there was something else there as well. Before he could ponder it further, someone behind him said, "Excuse me", and he realized he was blocking the door.

Bobby smiled back and said, "Right. See ya." Bobby stepped around her and headed for HIS car.

While he drove around the school to get to the student lot, he considered the parking sticker. The instructions were that it was supposed to be placed either on the rear bumper, or the rear window. Bobby was not thrilled about either option.

Since he was still relatively early, he stopped to speak with the guard at the student lot entrance and asked him, "Good morning Rick, can I ask you something about the placement of the parking permit stickers?"

"Sure," the guard replied. All the students knew the name of the guard because every student who didn't ride the busses had to pass by his post coming or going, even if they walked to school.

Bobby said, "I just picked my sticker up and wondered if it could be placed somewhere other than the locations on the instructions. I would prefer not to have the glue on either my bumper or my window."

Rick told him, "Since I'm the one that monitors them, as long as you place it somewhere visible and give me a heads-up, you will be okay."

"Great," said Bobby. "I'm going to stick it to some clear Mylar and hang it from my rear-view mirror. Are you okay with that?"

Rick replied, "Works fine for me while it's parked, but make sure that you don't obstruct your vision with anything hanging from your mirror or you're likely to get a ticket from the cops."

"Understood," said Bobby. "Thanks Rick."

Bobby had been scoping out the student parking lot since he first got his car. Even though he couldn't drive it yet, he knew that he would one day, so he started imagining where the best places would be to park it when the day finally came. Now that the day was here, Bobby knew exactly the spot he wanted. The last parallel parking spot along the fence between the school and the neighborhood houses was his destination. Since the majority of the spaces were angled parking, and most students hated trying to parallel park, the spot would usually be available to him. During the afterschool rush, while everyone else was trying to back out of their spaces with other students driving behind them, being able to just pull out into the flow would also be an advantage. The final feature of this spot was that for almost the entire school year, the shade from a large Sycamore tree fell right over this very parking spot for most of the afternoon. When Bobby restored the convertible rag top he had chosen to go with the black rather than the white. He thought it looked better with the red body color, but knew that the solar gain would be something he would have to deal with occasionally. While he put the top up after parking, he was glad his choice of parking space had considered this.

Bobby had been in accelerated learning classes his entire life. In grade school it was referred to as "Gifted and Talented Education", or GATE, and in high school it was called "Advanced Placement", or AP. His schedule for this year was heavy on core requirements, with only one elective and PE as any kind of academic respite. Walking to his first class, he was joined by a few friends and they started comparing schedules and teachers. Most of Bobby's friends were kids that he had grown up with since Kindergarten or played baseball with through his years in little league. He seldom had classes with any of his friends, which usually left him on his own where school projects or studying were concerned.

Still running ahead of schedule, Bobby entered his first class of the day two or three minutes before the first passing period bell rang. AP Biology was sought after by any of the kids who envisioned a career in medicine, but it was tough to maintain the overall grades that would qualify them for this particular class. Bobby had requested the class solely due to his interest in the subject, and completing it in his junior year would free him to take AP chemistry during his senior year.

The room was used for various science classes during the day, so it was arranged accordingly. The teacher's desk was at the front of the room, with three rows of six lab tables, each of which sat two students. The tops of the lab tables each had a small sink with a faucet located along the back center, and locked drawers and cabinets all around the base. Depending upon the science discipline being taught, students would retrieve the necessary equipment from below their tables during each class, and then return them at the end of class.

Bobby selected a seat at a table in the row closest to the door, three back from the front. He placed his backpack on the floor, took a seat on his stool, and watched the other students as they started to arrive.

Bobby knew most of the other students in the class by name. They had shared dozens of classes over the years. As people passed, he would greet them warmly and share a few words, but no one wanted to get into an involved conversation right before the start of class.

"Is this seat taken?"

Bobby was surprised that someone had spoken to him from the inside aisle because most people were walking up the outside aisles, and he thought he had noticed everyone enter the room. He turned to the girl who had spoken and recognized her from the door at the office. "No. Please sit down."

She smiled, placed her backpack on the floor next to his and took her seat.

"Smallville"... Bobby thought. "What made me think of that TV show?" he wondered. As the girl turned to introduce herself, he knew why.

"Hi," she said. "I'm Patty Harper".

"No you're not, your Kristen Kruek with ice blue eyes," thought Bobby. While Patty Harper, at about five foot eight inches was taller than the actress, and of course her eyes were that amazing color of blue, there was a wholesome beauty, athletic grace, and a full-body smile that reminded Bobby of the effect that Lana Lane always had on the "Boy of Steel".

"Hi Patty, I'm Bobby Brandt".

Even if he wasn't naturally a confident person, his being raised with three older sisters would have made Bobby much less intimidated by the opposite sex than a lot of other teen age boys. Bobby had never had a problem talking to girls, dated several on a casual basis, and knew how to show all girls the respect they deserved.

"Pleased to meet you... again," she chuckled.

"Yeah you too," Bobby said.

When the next passing period bell rang, Bobby turned to Patty and said, "Well, it was nice meeting you Patty. I guess I'll see you tomorrow."

Patty smiled and said, "If not sooner. Bye."

Bobby followed her out the door and started for his next class. He noticed Patty reviewing her printed schedule and looking around at the room numbers. "Where are you headed?" asked Bobby.

Patty looked at her schedule again, "AP English. Room 36".

"Then you're with me," Bobby said. "Come on and I'll show you. This is apparently your first day here. Where are you from?"

"My mom took over a realty office in Cypress in July and we moved down from the San Fernando Valley so she wouldn't have to commute." Patty reviewed the paper in her hand again and said. "I never thought my records would arrive to this school in time for me to get the right classes, but so far everything on my schedule seems right."

It turned out that Bobby and Patty shared all their AP classes, and didn't go their separate ways until lunch time. After lunch Bobby had his one elective class, which this semester was Keyboarding, and then since Bobby was on the baseball team, his last period class was always PE, even when it wasn't baseball season.

As school ended, Bobby almost forgot to go to the parking lot because he was so used to walking home. When he had put the top down and was preparing to leave the parking lot, he congratulated himself on his choice of spaces. He was able to get into the flow of cars exiting and out of the lot within two minutes. He saw Patty Harper walking along the sidewalk and was going to ask her if she wanted a ride, but he was in the left lane with no opportunity to change before he would be too far past her. It was probably just as well, since he had to go directly to work and he didn't know if offering her a ride home would have taken him out of his way or not.

The next morning, Bobby left his house at a more leisurely time. He still wanted to get to school at least fifteen minutes before first bell, but he didn't have to be there as early as he did yesterday. He was planning on trying a different route this morning. He wanted to experiment with the multiple options he had in case road construction or something else ever came up on one of them.

While stopped at a traffic light, Bobby thought he recognized Patty Harper walking down the sidewalk ahead of him. Once again he was in the left lane, but this time he would have a chance to get to the right before he reached her. As the light turned green, Bobby adjusted his speed to allow him to merge into the right lane between two other cars in plenty of time to pull to the curb alongside Patty.

"Hi Patty," said Bobby. "Would you like a ride to school?"

Patty stopped walking and looked to see who had spoken to her. When she recognized Bobby she smiled and replied, "Didn't you get enough of me yesterday?"

"Is that a 'no'?" asked Bobby with his own smile back at her.

"No, it's not a 'no'," giggled Patty as she opened the door and climbed into his car. As she placed her backpack at her feet and settled into her seat she said, "This is a firm seat. It almost feels brand new."

"You know," Bobby said with a contemplative look on his face, "Now that you mention it, you are the first person to sit in that seat. All the seats were replaced this summer as part of the restoration, and no one has ridden shotgun until now."

"I'm very honored sir," Patty said as she turned to Bobby.

As he looked into her eyes, he saw genuine affection, almost like he was reading her feelings through those beautiful ice blue eyes. He liked what he saw, but had to turn away to check traffic before pulling back on the road. Patty chatted animatedly all the way to school, asking about Bobby's car and what he had done to restore it to its current condition.

At the parking lot, Patty asked, "Why are you passing up so many good parking spaces?"

Bobby replied, "Let me park, and then I'll explain my logic to you. It's always nice to start the day with a laugh."

Bobby asked Patty to sit and wait for him to open her door for her, and she said, "What a gentleman." Bobby chuckled and said, "Well, kinda sorta."

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