BENDER’S GARAGE (A scene from – WHEN DARK CLOSES IN), Chapter 3, Part 1
Jennifer pulled into the lot at the automotive body and repair garage. A sign read:
Bender; Tender with your Fender,
Committed to Care what we Repair,
Reasonable rates; Always fair.
She thought the sign kind of funny considering all the noise coming from inside. The music blaring from a radio perched on a cluttered shelf with various auto related tools and parts could barely be heard above all the pounding and thudding. But, she could make out the popular Beach Boys hit, “GOOD VIBRATIONS.” Their song was on the top 10 of hit parade stations everywhere. The sound of an engine turning over, sputtering to life under the shaking hood made it seem all the more crazy, and she laughed at the thought. She could imagine the Beach Boys with their own cars rattling roof tops with their gyrating, noisy engines. “Good Vibrations.”
Seattle’s June temperatures in the high eighties, along with high humidity levels hovered around for ten days straight. Large fans hung from metal beams, but did little to cool the inside. It still felt like a sauna. The lingering smell of greasy engine parts, oil and sweat from mechanics working at their stations permeated the atmosphere.
A pair of legs in coveralls protruded from under a car, where she guessed most of the banging noise came from.
Under the hood of another car were the head and shoulders of another mechanic. That’s him.
He backed out from under the hood, bumping his head on the hood latch. His smudged
face and overalls wore the residue from the old car he worked on. He rubbed the back of his
“Oh. Hey. Jen?” he said. grinning. His eyes scanned over her slim, tanned figure in white shorts and navy tee shirt.
“Wow! You look great! How long have you been back?”
“Since last week. I’m sorry for sneaking up on you. I didn’t mean to startle you.” She laughed. “Are you O.K.?”
“Sure.” He wiped his hands on a shop towel.
“I made an appointment last week to get my car tuned up. I talked to your uncle and he told me you were working here during the summer. Are you still attending ITE?”
“Yep. But, I’m taking the summer off from classes, too. My uncle wanted me to come work for him, so here I am, getting my hands dirty again.” He laughed.
“Who’s assigned to work on your car?”
“I’m not sure. Your uncle said he’d take care of it. The receptionist was out when he took the call. I asked him how things were going with the business. He said he was having, ‘a good season’. It looks like it. Expanded the business and number of employees? Hey, I like his cute poster sign he put up. Has a catchy little rhyme sound to it.”
“Oh, that? That’s a joke. He didn’t do that. One of the other mechanics made that. Thought it would be good for the new advertisement in the yellow page listings, you know? Hey, if you leave your car here, I will take you home later, if they can’t do it today. But, you have to agree to come back to the apartment with me, wait for me to shower, clean up, and let me take you out to dinner.”
“Well, OK. I will want to let my mom know I won’t be home for dinner. How long will it be before you can leave?”
“Not long. Wait inside for me. Get yourself a coke and I’ll knock off after I’m finished here. This old wreck has been a real piece of work.” He checked the big clock on the wall opposite him. “Can you give me a half hour or so?”
“Sure. I’ll wait inside. I brought a book along in case they got it in today.”
To be continued…
Joyce E. Johnson