WHEN DARK CLOSES IN (Historical Fiction)
Chapter 3, Part 2
Bender’s Garage, Seattle, WA. 1966
“OK, then. I’ll meet you inside, when you’re ready.” Jennifer said to Scott.
“I’ll hurry.” He said.
“I’m sure. Am I the motivation you need to work a little faster?” She smiled.
“Something like that. Do I need another reason?” He said, grinning.
It grew quieter as they talked. The banging under the noisy heap stopped when she saw the pair of legs from under it slide out revealing a face dirtier than Scott’s grinning up at her. He quickly got up from the mechanic’s creeper as if hopeful to get an introduction.
Other mechanics stood watching as she turned to walk across the work bay to the door of the customer service center. Their staring made her feel uncomfortable, but she knew they were just harmless big boys in dirty overalls.
“Hi, fellas.” She said, giving them her winning smile.
When she approached the door she noticed a wadded greasy shop towel thrown across the bay area smacking the mechanic with the dirty face. It phased him little. His eyes barely blinked, still on Jennifer as he stood like a fixture in stone, on the concrete under him.
She knew Scot could still pitch. He’d pitched all through high school, fast ball, slow curves, all while on the school softball team. He seldom ever failed to strike out players on opposing teams, anticipating their moves, judging his next pitch. But, this time he was unable to move the guy, or wipe the lascivious smile from his dirty face.
She punched in a quarter for the soda machine, and waited as a lever inside lifted and released her choice. The Coke rolled down into the slot.
Arnie Bender, Scot’s uncle came through the door and greeted her, picked up his mail from Shirley, the receptionist and entered his office.
She settled down in a chair to read the book she’d brought. But, the newspapers on a side table caught her eye. She read the titles, and subtitles of enclosed articles, “Stepping up troop movement for escalating war in Southeast Asia,” “Fighting results in increased college enrollment,” “Mothers weep at departure gates; their sons promising to write,” “Debate over U.S. involvement causes division in Congress,” “Parades and demonstrations take to the streets.” Pictures showed hippies holding signs, “Make Love, Not War! ” Some had those with their two middle fingers raised in a ‘peace sign.’ Others stood defiant, in their face using just their middle finger raised in a lewd gesture. The scenes and news reports were coming with more regularity for the times they lived in.
She stopped reading when she heard Scot’s name mentioned in the adjoining office. She knew it wasn’t right, but couldn’t resist listening to the conversation between Mr. Bender and the receptionist.
“Mr. Bender, there was a call for you earlier from an Army officer by the name of…”
“Yes. He asked if you had filled out the necessary papers regarding your nephew, Scot’s employment here. He wanted to remind you that those papers they sent you requesting confirmation of his employment needed to be filled out and sent back ASAP to their office here in Seattle, by the deadline date.”
“OK. Is there anything else, other calls, or messages?” he asked.
“No sir. That’s all. The rest are on your appointment calendar, or spindle. This one I highlighted because of its importance. I thought you would want to know. He said it was vital they get those papers back by that date. He left his number for you, to call.”
“Thank you, Shirley. That is all.”
Shirley walked out to resume her work behind the ‘Information’ desk.
Jennifer sat, the newspapers still in her lap, with little interest in them, or her book. She quickly tossed them back onto the table in a heap, as if she’d just been bitten or stung by an angry bee. She decided she would not tell Scott what she overheard or knew, about the ‘confirmation’ papers with his employment status requiring his uncle’s ‘immediate attention.’
When Scott was finished, he walked inside, took his time card, clocked out, and peeked into his uncle’s office telling him, “Goodnight, uncle Arnie. See you tomorrow.”
“Sure thing, Scott. I’ll get someone on her car first thing tomorrow.”
“Thanks. I’ll get her home tonight and pick her up tomorrow when it’s done.”
He turned back to Jennifer, smiling. “All ready?”
“Yes. Thanks for the ride home, and promise of dinner.” she said.
“My pleasure.” He said, grinning.
Joyce E. Johnson