Mechanics 101

Just Passing Thru

By Lugnutz


Chapter Three

The months following my father's death were tense, sometimes unnerving, and frequently painful. I took a week off work to see to Pop's affairs. Finding the proper casket, a nice plot, and a headstone that would suit him wasn't easy, but I found it even harder to get my head in order.

The whole town came to the funeral. Everyone seemed to be a friend, customer or acquaintance, or some combination thereof. He would be sorely missed in this town. Almost everyone that attended told me how, in some way, my pop had effected their life.

I found that I needed to hire someone to help me in the garage, as I was getting backlogged and not getting much sleep. I ended up hiring a guy with a wrecker service, so he could help me in the garage, and have a better location for tows. A match made in heaven? Hardly. It was out of necessity. But we did work well together, and it allowed me to work on the business side of the shop.

I got a call out of nowhere; it was Mollie.

"JPT, this is Nigel," I said as I picked up the phone.

"Hi Nigel. How are you doing these days?" It was Mollie, my one true friend.

"Hi Mollie. What day is it today?" I asked her.

"Very funny, it's Thursday." She laughed out loud.

"In that case, I'm doing ok. What are you up to?" I grinned, not that she could see it.

"Just checking on a friend. You have any plans for tomorrow night?" She asked.

"You know I don't have a life. Of course I'm free." I think she could hear my frown this time.

"Good. We're going out for dinner and a talk. Is that ok with you?"

I knew she wouldn't take no for a answer. "That would be great! I need a night out." More like a month, I thought.

"Nice, we both need it. Does 7 sound good?" She asked, cheery again.

"Yup. My place or your's?" I asked.

"I'll pick you up. We'll make a night out of it."

"Sounds good. I'll see you then." I breathed a sigh of relief.

"Will do. 'Bye, Nigel."

'Bye, Mollie." I hung up the phone, smiling.

Well, that made my day. We'd talked some lately, but no serious heart to heart talks since Pop passed. I was looking forward to the next night. We breezed through the rest of the day, and get prepped for Friday's arrivals.

Once I was home, I tossed something in the microwave, then settled down in front of the TV. I'm not sure how it came to me, but I remembered I hadn't set foot in Pop's room since he went to the hospital. I knew that time was getting nearer, and I was dreading it. Going through his things, deciding what to keep and what to donate. Good thing he wasn't much of a pack-rat, or I'd be in there for weeks. Maybe I could do that this weekend.

I had that dream again. It'd been a while since I'd had the dream. It was becoming more clear now. The face and body were more visible. He had longer hair - not mop-like, but nice. The car was looking better too, but I still couldn't make out the licence plate number. There were flashes of vision from some race track, and from my house again. There was a quick glimpse of my dad's car, that had been under a cover for at least a year. I hadn't looked at it in ages. Maybe this dream was getting closer to becoming reality, but I never believed in that stuff.

I thought Friday was supposed to be a good day. Too bad nobody told the pile I had to work on that news. I had the most contankerous car come in. No rhyme or reason why it was doing what it was - shifting erratically, or not at all - but it was doing it. It took all day to trace wires and such, only to finally discover that the computer was fried. Once I got a new computer for it, it drove perfectly. Another shitty day in paradise.

"JPT, This is Nigel" I said, as per my usual routine.

"Hi Nige, am I still picking you up tonight?"

"DAMN!! Hi Mollie, yeah that would be great. I almost forgot." Actually, I did forget.

"How could you forget?" She said, coming close to scolding me.

"Day from hell, or more like the car from hell." My nerves were still in a bundle.

"Ok, I got ya. I'll see you in a couple hours, ok?" I think she understood me, knowing what I do for a living.

"Sure thang, darling. See ya soon." I said happily.

"Bye, handsome." She cooed.

"Bye." Then I hung up, smiling again. How could she brighten up my day like that?

How could've I forgotten tonight? Oh well, chalk it off to a S.N.A.F.U. It was time to call it a day. With everything done and inside, we cleaned up and closed the shop.

On the entire drive home, I was trying to figure out what to wear tonight. It was supposed to be casual, but how casual? That was my only thought the whole trip home. That, and anticipating spending the evening with my best friend, of course.

Once home, I bypassed the kitchen and went straight to my room to sort through my clothes, hoping to find something fitting for the evening. Even being gay, I still had no fashion sense. I settled for a nice sweater, black dress pants and cowboy boots I rarely wore. Now, I just had to hop in the shower and get ready for a well deserved night out with a friend.

Promptly at 7pm, Mollie pulled into my driveway, and gave the horn a toot. I grabbed my jacket and headed out the door.

"Nigel, you look like hell. Have you been getting much sleep lately?" Her voice was filled with concern.

"Enough, I guess. Do I look that bad?" I felt good, but probably looked like death warmed over.

"It shows. I have a nice evening planned. I think you'll enjoy it." She smiled and patted my leg.

"Thanks Mollie, I don't know what I'd do without you." I told her, and it was god's own truth.

"Good thing it hasn't come to that, then. Lets get going, shall we?" She put the car in gear, and we were moving.

"Yes. Where are we headed?" I asked her.

"You'll see." She said, with a evil smile on her lips.

She pulled us out of my driveway, and drove back to town. I didn't recall any nice places in this area for dinner, but I also knew she wouldn't budge on the location until we got there.

As I looked around, the scenery was looking familier.

"Are we going to your place?" I asked, after I figured it out.

"Yep. We need some quiet time, and I can whip up a nice meal when I'm inclined. Is that ok with you?" She played innocent so well.

"That's fine - great, actually." I squeezed her hand while it was on the shifter.

We pulled into her driveway a few minutes later. After getting out of the car, Mollie came to me, took my hand, then giving me a tight hug, telling me that we both needed tonight.

"What smells so good??" I asked, my belly rumbled.

"You like?" She patted my belly playfully.

"Yes, I like, now what is it?" I quizzed her.

"Honestly, I don't have a clue. It used to be some kind of meat." She said, trying to deadpan it, and failing miserably.

"Yeah, right." I cocked an eyebrow at her.

"Ok, lets go see what it turned into, then." She took my arm and dragged me into the house.

"Sounds good. I could almost eat the tire off the car, I'm so hungry."

"We can't have that, I need those to get to work." This time, she got it right. Deadpan, that is.

We got inside, and I saw the table set up for a quiet evening, candles burning and wine chilling. After getting settled in, we made small talk until the meal was ready.

Did I mention that she can cook?? The steaks were perfect, along with baked potatos, and sauteed mushrooms. I couldn't help myself: I ate like a man possesed.

"BURP ! ! !" I tried to cover my mouth, but I missed it.

"Why, thank you. I did my best." She smiled happily.

"That was beyond your best, you took it to a new level. It was excellent." I couldn't have gotten another crouton in my gut if I'd tried.

"Thanks Nige, glad you enjoyed it. It was my pleasure." She patted my back.

We adjourned to the living room, and put a movie in, which ended up being background noise, as we talked instead.

"What's on your mind, Nigel?" She always knew what to say to get things going.

"Where do you want to start?" I asked.

"What are you thinking about now?" She wasn't looking at me she snuggled up with her back against my chest. I think that made it easier for me to talk.

"You. I love you to death, but I wish it was as a girlfriend. You're the best friend I ever had, but there is something in my head that tells me that it will never be, you being my girlfriend I mean. I wouldn't want to hurt you if we ever got to that point. I still have that dream. Pop said if you wish for it long enough, it will come to you. I don't see it ever happening," I said, kind of sadly.

"I love you too. You're the best friend and brother any girl could ask for. We've been through almost everything together, and it tears me up seeing you like this. Pop was smart, and it will come. You may never be my boyfriend, but I pray someone will find you. You're too good not to have someone special," she said, rubbing my cheek.

We continued talking about everything through the night. My life, her life, our hopes and dreams, we hashed it all out until the sun poked itself over the horizon.

"Want to go for a nice breakfast? I'll buy." I couldn't believe I was hungry already.

"Sure, just let me get changed." She dashed upstairs and put on something casual, and we got in the car.

We ended up at this small mom and pop restaurant; they had fried cinnimon rolls there bigger than a frisbee, no kidding. Cheap too. We got something more normal instead, along with more small talk. It was nice to go out with her; nothing fazed her, at least not then.

After paying the bill and leaving a nice tip, Mollie dropped me off at my house and went home. I needed a nap.

Waking up late in the afternoon, I didn't feel like going anywhere, so I camped out on the couch and watched TV. After watching nothing special for two hours, I decided it was time.

Walking up the steps to the room I hadn't seen in several months, I paused at the door for a moment, and then I turned the handle and went in. Damn, this was going to be difficult. I started with his dresser, cleaning it out, sorting things, putting what I wanted to keep in one pile, and what would go in another. The closet was next. In one box, I found an old picture: it looked like Pop, my mum and me. I must have been two when it was taken, back in England. I took that picture and hung it in my room.

After spending several hours going through things, reliving memories, I had only one place left to go through: Pop's desk.

Going through the drawers, taking things out and sorting them, still finding more treasures, I found myself shying away from the main drawer, in the middle. I was avoiding it. I took a deep breath after all the others were done, and grabbed the drawer pull. Once it was open, I started going through things until I found a manilla envelope.....

To Nigel
From Pop

I was staring at a letter written by my father, but when? I just stared at it for what seemed like hours. Finally deciding I needed to know what was on his mind, I opened it.

Nigel -

I know this is the last thing you would ever want to see, but I'll make it worth your while. You know I was never much for writing letters, so I'll keep this short.

I realize the old cliché: "If you're reading this, I must be dead" kind of applies here. So what? It's true.

As I write this, I just sent you off to work as I wasn't feeling well.

I know what's coming for me, and I'm not afraid of it. What I am afraid of, is for you. I can read you like a book. Don't be scared of the future. It will come in its own time, regardless of what you may think. You turned into a great man, and an excellent son. I am the richest man in the world, and I have you to thank for that.

Now for your life, as it continues. My wish is for you to find the man you're looking for and to be truly happy, like I was when I married your mother. The man that wins your heart will be great indeed. You have my blessing. You will know what to do when the time comes.

As you're well aware you are the sole heir to my fortune, that being the garage and the house. You may have already found the folder containing my investments: use it in good health. There is not a lot there, but it will see you through the hard times.

I'm going to end this letter by saying that you are a someone any man would be proud to call his son, and I'll be watching you, so play nice. What you are looking for may just be around the corner; don't be afraid of your dream, just live it.

Love you,

I just sat there, not knowing what to do: laugh, cry, or just shit. I just sat there, thinking of Pop, and some wiseass comment he would be saying if he was still here. But he wasn't. I eventually finished my work in that room for the night and went to the kitchen for dinner and some TV.


The days turned into weeks, and the weeks began to pile up on themselves, but nothing really changed. I still got up and went to work every day, feeling depressed and alone. My dreams began to fade, and become less frequent. Was it my mind just conjuring something for my amusement? I tried not to dwell on it, but I still thought about it once in a while.

Going through the backroom at the garage one day, I stumble over something covered up. I pull the cover off, and remember. It was an engine Pop and I'd built for a car neither one of us owned. Why did we bother doing it? The engine we built was for an 80's vintage BMW. BMW's facinated me: you could beat the crap out of them and they just wanted more. I remembered the time we had building it, putting nothing but the best parts in it: bigger camshaft, injectors, more compression. We had it put on a dynomometer once it was finished, and it pumped out approximately 450 horsepower. We were floored. Once we got it back to the shop, we put it on a stand and covered it up. How I'd forgotten about it was beyond me. I covered it back up and pushed it under a shelf.

My only sanity came from the visits I had with Mollie. We could talk for hours about nothing, and come out smiling. With my head going in too many directions, she was the person who kept me grounded. Sane.


Wow, it was finally Friday. Not that it's any different from any other day because it isn't, with one exception. I had to take the flatbed this weekend because of prior commitments with the regular driver which is not a big deal - it wasn't the first time. I took the mobile phone he used for the tow service, and went home.

Another boring evening. I got late a call, handled it, and then went to bed for the night.

I had that dream again, more vividly than I ever remember. I saw the car and the scenery around us, but when the driver turned to look at me, I woke up before I could make out his face.

"WHY ARE YOU TOYING WITH ME????" I said to nobody as I sat bolt up in bed. This was getting to be too much. Getting out of bed, I stumbled to the bathroom, splashed some water on my face to wake me up some, and then I looked at myself in the mirror.

"This has got to end, one way or the other. Dreams don't come true." I looked up through the ceiling. "Dad, I can't take this anymore, I'm losing it. I want to be with you again." I fell to the floor with my back to the wall, pulled my knees to my chest, and cried.

Eventually I got up and got ready for the day: must press on, even though I'd rather not be in this realm at all.

Saturday was a drag. I made maybe one service call all day. After rummaging through the kitchen for dinner, I found something and headed to the couch. TV sounded good - I needed something mindless.

If Saturday was bad, Sunday was worse. The phone didn't ring all day. Just as I was fixing a late lunch, the phone finally rang.

"Hello, Just Passing Thru."

"Hi, do you tow?" the voice on the other end said.

"Yes, we do. Where are you at now?"

"I'm on Highway 20, by the intersection of Polk and 112th ave."

"I know the area. I can be there in about a half hour."

"Sounds great. You can't miss me - I'll be the only guy out here in a red BMW with vultures circling overhead."

"Hehehe, sounds good. I'll be there shortly." I told him.

"Thank you!" The voice says.

RED BMW?!?!?

Nah. Can't be. Dreams don't come true. I put my lunch in the fridge, and headed out to the truck. Driving down the road, I flipped the radio on. A song started that I'd heard several times: I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack. I'd never listened to the words before, but I listened to 'em this time.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat, but you always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbit love leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the chance to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountians in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances, but they're worth taking
Loving might be a mistake, but it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance

I hope you dance (Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance (Rolling us along)
I hope you dance (Tell me who)
I hope you dance (Wants to look back on their youth and wonder where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small when you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one door opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it our or dance,

I hope you
I hope you dance (Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance (Rolling us along)
I hope you dance (Tell me who wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance (Where have those years have gone)
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance (Wants to look back on their youth and wonder where those years have gone)

I had to pull over after hearing that tune. It made perfect sense: dammit, I'm going to dance. I sat there parked for several minutes, gathering my composure, and then I continued on my service call.

I could it see a ways down the road, so I start slowing down. As I got up close, I flipped my emergency lights on, and pulled in behind him.

I climbed down out of the truck and took a look. What I saw stunned me. It was the scene from my dream! Everything: the car, the background, and... the driver.

The car door was open and the driver was behind it, leaning against the front fender. As he turned to me, I couldn't help but stare. He walked right up to me, and held his hand out.

"Darren Reynolds, how ya doing?"

I shook his hand. "Not too bad. Any idea what happened with the car?" I asked him.

"No clue. It just quit." He said as he shrugged his shoulders.

I took a quick look. Nice car - 1988 BMW 325i. Finding nothing obviously wrong, I got the car loaded up and we headed back to the garage.

As we were driving back, I looked out the window to the sky, and said a small prayer to myself. 'Pop, is this my dream? Is this what you were talking about?' Just then, a ray of sunshine peeked thru the clouds and into the truck. I smiled.

I looked over at Darren, gave him a smile and started making small talk.

And he smiled back.

The End

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