By: David L. Souers

Chapter 11


Jack was sitting in his truck in the bank’s parking lot when Jimmy pulled in next to him. A petite blonde sat by his side. Her hair was long and wavy, and Jimmy could see why she wanted Jack to have air conditioning in his truck. She gave the impression of an individual that took impeccable care of herself, even at first glance, he could deduce that much. At 115 degrees or more, the summer heat could fry you mentally as well as physically, and it didn’t take very long to give the appearance of a wilted salad to the world around you, especially without a little mechanical cooling.

Her, “Oh Jack, can I go look at it?” could have been heard a block down the street, even over the noise of the morning traffic.

“Bring her over Jack, and let her check it out, after all, she’s going to be the co-pilot.”

Laughing at that, they got out of Jack’s truck, and Jimmy got out of his to let her have a good look. They walked around to the driver’s side, and Jimmy and Jack shook hands while Jack introduced him.

“Jimmy, this is my fiancee, Sarah.”

“Hi Sarah. Pleased, I’m sure. What do you think of it?”

“It’s beautiful! I couldn’t believe it when Jack was describing it. But he sure wasn’t stretching it at all. Are you really going to trade titles with him?”

“Well, it’s not something I want to do, but it is necessary, sooooo, let’s just go take care of it, OK?”

Watching them leave the bank after the paper work was done, Jimmy went over to a teller and presented his savings book, CD certificates, and the savings bonds to her.

“I want to convert these to cash please.”

It took a while to convince her that he wanted the green stuff. Real cash. Not a cashier’s check or other document.

“But, no one does that any more!”

“It’s not illegal, is it?”

“No, but it is unusual.”

“By the time the cash was in his hand, he had to talk to her superior, and eventually to the assistant vice-president!

More than a little irate by then, Jimmy closed out their checking for good measure.

His new title, registration, and insurance card had been faxed to him at the bank, so he went out and started his new truck. Placing the bag of cash under the front seat, he headed for his garage appointment that he had made the previous evening.

Dave was wiping his hands on a shop towel when he pulled up to the bay door. Looking up and smiling, he motioned to Jimmy that he should pull the truck in to the big bay.

“Good morning Jimmy, where’d you find that beauty?”

“I just bought it from a guy this morning. It’s the one I told you about last night. Did you pick up those seals and bearings for it? I want you to check, and service or replace anything that looks a little shaky. Do a full tune-up too. Put in new cap, rotor, wires, plugs, points and condenser, and while you’re at it, go ahead and replace the belts. Take all of the used stuff and put in a box behind the seat for me, OK?” It might come in handy out on the road some day.”

“Where are you taking this thing, to China?”

“Not quite that far, but I don’t want to wonder if it’s going to crap out on me, or not. We can’t cover everything, but I want everything going my way that I can get. The last thing I want to hear is this truck dying on the road somewhere between here and my destination.”

“Do you want one of the boys to give you a ride home while we get started on it?”

“If it wouldn’t be to much trouble Dave. I want to help Ellen get some things done around the house so we’ll be ready to go without any delays. Will you give me a call when it’s ready?”

“Sure Jimmy. Just as soon as it’s ready. You sure sound all fired up to get on down the road. Did you have a death in the family, or something?”

With a slightly cynical laugh he said, “That’s what we’re trying to prevent.”

Reaching under the seat, he grabbed the bag of cash, and got into Dave’s pseudo taxi. A few minutes later, he was thanking Paul, the “gopher” that Dave kept around the shop to ferry customers, clean up, and run for parts when the parts houses were too busy to deliver promptly enough to suit him.

“Honey, I’m home.”

He couldn’t get a reply, so he went towards the back patio where she could be seen through the sliding glass door, cleaning the buckets with a big bath towel. Stopping at the fridge to put the cash into the freezer, he then approached her position as quietly as possible. Sliding the door open just wide enough to slip his hand through the opening, and holding his breath to contain his laughter, he reached out and gave a gentle pinch to her backside, as she bent over to pick up another of the pails.

The bucket went into low orbit, and she spun around so fast, she nearly slugged the glass.

“Jimmy! You nearly gave me a coronary!”

His belly laugh rolled out so full and rich, that she started snickering back at him, and soon they were embracing and laughing uncontrollably at the whole scene.

“What are you doing home already?”

“I thought I could help you fill those pails. Sitting at the shop isn’t exactly productive, and I’m sure we can find plenty to keep me busy around here.”

“Why don’t you carry the clean pails over to that mountain of food, and we’ll start filling them. Here’s a big marking pen that will write on plastic, so we’ll know what we’ve got without opening them later on.”

Two hours later, the last of the buckets was filled and marked. The pile of food was not gone by any means.

“Honey, it looks like you’re going to have to find another dozen or so of those pails.”

“I’ll have to look in the yellow pages for some more bakeries. I cleaned out all they had at those other two places.”

“OK. I’m going to start loading some of those reloading supplies, and some of my guns into the front end of the trailer, where they won’t be so easy to rip off while were traveling.”

It was just over an hour later when she pulled into the driveway with another load of buckets. He had loaded his guns and supplies into the trailer, and stacked quite a few of the pails in front of them. The lemons were stacked in their boxes along the side of the trailer. Sweating rather profusely, he was sitting on the lid of a pail, trying to catch his breath.

“Jimmy, we’re not in that big a hurry, are we? Don’t try to do everything at once. You’ll make yourself sick, and we’ll never get there.”

“I know. I know. It’s just that there is so much to do, and so little time to do it.”

“We’ll make it without killing ourselves by doing a little at a time. Now what about all those lemons?”

“You must by psychic El. I was wondering the same thing when I stacked them there a couple of minutes ago. We’re not going to take all of them, that’s for sure!”

“I’ll call Ann and the Billingsly’s. Between the two of them, they will cart them off, I’m sure.”

“I’ll set three boxes aside for us, and the rest will be up for grabs.”

Two and a half hours later, the last of the staples were safely stored in the pails, and they were taking a break at the kitchen table when the phone rang. It was Dave, down at the shop, informing him that his truck was ready.

“How about a lift, sweet wife of mine?”

“Uh huh, I’m really sweet when you need a lift.”

Jimmy chuckled. Actually, I can think of a couple of occasions when that is true.

“C’mon you dirty old man. Let’s go see this new truck of yours.”

Opening the fridge, he reached into the freezer and extracted his bag of the, by now, cold cash. He had placed it there when he first got home from the shop out of habit. You could say he was a creature of habit just like the majority of us. Ellen had teased him about that little quirk more than once. Rest assured!

The first thing he noticed was the set of extra wide, “mudder”, tires.

They were ostentatious, to say the least! The treads were over an inch deep, and looked like they could get a grip on anything. They both got out of her wagon, and were checking them out when Dave approached.

“I see you’ve noticed the tires Jimmy. The old ones are in the shop. Wait ‘til you see them. I spotted plugs in two of them when I was working on the truck, so I pulled them all. A third one had a big, boot type, patch in it. I called my tire supplier right then and there and had him deliver five of these tires. You sounded like you didn’t want any problems on your trip, so here’s my solution to that problem.”

“No problem Dave. It’s exactly what I would have told you to do. The last thing I will need is a blowout with a full load.”

Turning to his wife, he asked, “Well, what do you think of it?”

“You weren’t kidding when you said it is as nice as the one we bought new that was just like it. It’s even the same color too, isn’t it?”

“I believe your right Honey, I never even noticed.”

Turning to Dave, he asked, “What are the damages?”

The work and parts list was three full pages and part of a fourth. The total, with the tires was over thirty-three hundred dollars!

Reaching into his shirt pocket, he gave Dave one of his less abused cards, and then followed him to get a look at the junk tires. Turning back as he approached the bay doors, he saw Ellen getting back into her wagon. She yelled out to him. “I’m going back to the house to finish up. I’ll see you later.”

Dave hadn’t been kidding about the tires. They really didn’t look bad from the outside, and might have been OK to use around town, but they had been punctured by something quite large, and plugged with those rubber devices that usually took a dive right when you afford it least. Jack, like many of his younger contemporaries, probably liked to “joyride” on the rugged backwoods trails that covered the whole state from the lowland deserts to the pine and spruce covered high country. It was great fun, but it was something that kept the tire dealers smiling too.

Putting the receipt and the card into his shirt pocket, he thanked Dave for the service and soon pulled his new, old truck out into traffic.

His bag of cash was back under the front seat, and he knew just where he was taking it. The Certified Gold Ex-change, which was the place where he usually sold the gold from his panning expeditions, was just up the road a little way, and he had plenty of time to do what he needed to do before their closing time. The greenbacks in the bag might not be good for much more than toilet tissue before long, but the gold that they would buy today would have at the very least, some value, far into the future. Jimmy had checked on the value of gold that morning, and knew pretty closely how many one ounce coins his savings would buy. He would keep out five hundred or so in cash for ,”biting money”, as his grandpa used to call it, but the bulk of his remaining assets would soon be jingling in a canvas bag.

Pulling out from the gold exchange with his bag of ounce coins under the seat, he decided to stop at the chain type parts store just a few blocks from the house. His hand had touched the bag of used parts that Dave, or one of his mechanics had placed under his side of the seat, and it had reminded him that it might be a good idea to get some new parts to take with him for future use.

The young man behind the counter looked up and smiled a greeting as he approached. “Hi, can I help you get something? Is that a 1970 F-250 that I saw you get out of?”

“Yes it sure is. I just bought it this morning.”

“It sure is a beauty, mister.”

“That’s for sure, it’s even nicer up close. I want you to look up; points, condenser, plugs, cap, rotor, wires, and belts, for a 1970, 351 cubic inch engine, with full power, and get me three of every one of those things, while you’re at it, if you will. I’m going to` get some fluids and filters for it.”

“Three of everything?”

“Uh huh, and while I want you to add in three each transmission filter and pan gasket sets for a, heavy duty, C-6 transmission.”

“Do you mind if I ask why you need three of everything? We’ll be open in the future, I think.”

Jimmy laughed, “You never know for sure, do you, in this day and age. Actually, I’m going on a long trip, and when I get there, there might not be a parts house that’s got what I’ll need.”

Grabbing a cart, he went to the oil section and filled it to the top with a good quality, multi-grade, oil, and parked it by the counter. The next cart was filled with four cases of transmission fluid, oil filters, and miscellaneous items like spray lubricants, a case of brake fluid, and a few cans of wheel bearing grease.

Returning to the counter to pick up the items that he’d requested in triplicate, he put them into the cart and went to the checkout counter. The young clerk helped him get to the truck by pushing one of the overburdened carts for him.

Jimmy wasn’t sure if he was just being helpful, or if he was only wanting an opportunity to examine the vintage truck up close. Either way, his help was appreciated by his tired body.

The first thing he noticed when he pulled back into the drive, was that the extra boxes of lemons had disappeared, and many of the pails that he hadn’t managed to move from the garage, were now stored in the trailer. They had decided to load the trailer first, and finish the truck just before they left.

Ellen was sitting at the kitchen table sipping a large glass of iced tea, and definitely looking, more than a little, worse for wear.

Setting the heavy bag of coins on the table, he kissed her on the cheek. “Why don’t you let me take you for Mexican food tonight? We won’t have to many chances to do it in the future, and besides, I’m to hungry to wait for anything to cook.”

“Now that’s what I call a plan. I’m starving too. Let’s get cleaned up, put on some glad rags, and get fat, in that order. It won’t take me long to get ready, that’s for sure!”

Sitting in a cozy booth, sipping margueritas, and munching the complimentary corn chips and salsa, they waited patiently for their dinners. The whole atmosphere went a long way towards mellowing them out, after such a long hard day.

“Jimmy, I don’t want to have to give up these kinds of moments forever.”

“That makes two of us. Maybe we won’t lose as much as we think, and we might just find something that’s just as valuable to replace what disappears.”

Their shredded beef with green chili, chimichungas, arrived just as he said the last word, and he knew that what she voiced to him was going to be true, in the chow department anyway. Where would he get the avocados for his guacamole? His chuckle caught her attention.

“Now what ever has tickled your funny bone?”

His brief explanation made her laugh back. “Leave it to you to be worried about your stomach.”

By the time they got home, it was time for the late news, and they turned it on to see if any indications of the upcoming events were going to be mentioned.

“Several large cities have noticed increased panic buying. This seems to be related to the, “End of Time”, predictions that were made by the Mayan Indians, centuries ago. It seems that some fringe cults are taking these predictions literally, and preparing for the, imagined, upcoming disaster. Federal officials are considering limits on some items to prevent price escalations and hoarding.”

“It would appear that we aren’t the only ones that got a warning, or else Danielle’s network is spreading the message outward from one mouth to the next.”

“I don’t know Jimmy. Maybe it’s a little bit of both, huh?”