As I sit on the tailgate of my truck, I think back over the last few years. There has been sadness, anger, retribution, happiness, and most important my love for another person. My wife and I had a difficult event to deal with but now we can see a light at the end of the tunnel; and it's not a train coming that will run over us.
I hope I have time to finish drinking the three fingers of Gentleman Jack in my glass. You see I'm expecting guests to arrive any minute now, don't you know. Well not guests really; I don't think those guys will be coming here to socialize. You see the police are coming to arrest me. AGAIN. Ah, here they come now.
Okay I've been arrested, without resisting I might add, and transported to the jail. Once again I was booked, given prison clothes, and put in a cell. It's not my first time at this party you know; I have been here twice before. I will have to wait until tomorrow morning some time before I can go before a judge to be arraigned and held over for trial.
There is another guy in the holding cell; he looks familiar. He was stretched out on one of the beds and raised his head as they brought me in.
"Hey, didn't I see you here about six months ago when I was in here for being drunk and disorderly?" he said. "I'm Dale by the way."
"Yes that was me. I remember you too; I'm JJ. My hands were bandaged and you helped me get some water," I answered. "What are you in for this time Dale?"
"Drunk and disorderly again. When I'm at my favorite bar and that asshole that stole my wife comes in, I get drunk and disorderly."
"Why don't you change bars?"
"That prick took everything I had; my wife, my car, my house, and even my damn dog. I'll be damned if he's going to take my bar," he said indignantly. "So what are you doing back here again, JJ?"
"It's a long story Dale."
"We're not going anywhere and we got nothing but time," he reminded me.
"Guess you're right. Okay, the reason I'm here actually happened about a year and a half ago and my visits to these modest accommodations started then."
My name is James Jerrod Kelley and I met my wife Cynthia when I was 31. A little later in life than most young couples but she was worth waiting for. It wasn't that I was repulsive because the women I dated, and there were a lot of them through the years, said that I had roguish good looks.
They didn't seem to mind the scar on my face that runs from my right ear across my cheek almost to the corner of my mouth; the ladies said that it made me look dashing. Whatever that meant. I'm a little over six feet, with very dark hair which makes my blue eyes stand out. I'm well built with muscles earned from hard work and not from a gym.
I rescued Cynthia and her vintage Mustang from the side of the road. Her car had broken down and I pulled over to help her. Cynthia was a tall, leggy, tight bodied, redhead with green eyes and a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. I like to think that I would have stopped even if she hadn't of been so pretty.
Cynthia was wearing a man's shirt tied below her breasts, a pair of cut off shorts, and wedge sandals that made her legs look like they ran all the way up to heaven and back. She wore very little make up and looked sexy and wholesome at the same time. I was in lust at first sight.
I parked my big Ford truck in front of her car and walked back to see if I could help her. She was leaning on the fender of her Mustang with the hood up, looking into the engine compartment. Cynthia's hands were a little dirty and she had a smudge of dirt across her cheek.
"Having car trouble," I asked? Dummy of course she's having car trouble, I thought shaking my head.
"Yah, it won't start. I pulled over to look at a map and now it won't start," she replied with a puzzled look.
"If you like I can take a look." I meant look at the car, I was already looking at her and her cut offs. I own and run a small auto repair shop so I should be able to at least find out what was wrong. Worst case scenario I could have it towed to my shop if I couldn't fix it right there.
"I couldn't impose on you. I'll just call Triple A," she said.
"Let me see if I can figure out what's wrong. I try to do a good deed every week and I'm running behind this week," I playfully teased her with a smile.
Cynthia laughed, stepped away, and waved her permission for me to check out the car. I looked inside the engine compartment and saw the problem right away. The battery connects were badly corroded so the car started a few times that day but wouldn't do so now because of the corrosion.
I told her to wait a second and went to my truck for my tools; a wrench and a can of Coke. Loosening the connectors with the wrench, I poured some of the Coke over them. In case you don't know, Coke is almost as good as baking soda to clean battery connections.
I scraped the inside of the connectors with my pocket knife and retightened them and told Cynthia to try to start the car. The engine caught on the first try and I closed the hood. I walked to her window, explained what the problem had been and suggested that she have new cables installed. I told her there was an auto repair shop about a mile away that would be able to do it quickly while she waited.
"The name of the place is "J J's Auto Repair" and you can follow me if you like. By the way I'm James Jerrod Kelly," I introduced myself. I usually introduce myself with my full name.
"Hi James Jerrod, I'm Cyn," she returned the introduction and then laughed at my double take.
"Sin?" I asked, not believing that I heard her correctly.
"No, not Sin, as in SIN. Cyn as in Cynthia Reynolds," she told me with a big grin. She was enjoying my embarrassment.
We shook dirty hands and she agreed to follow me to the repair shop. As we pulled up in front of the office, one of the two mechanics that worked for me came out to greet the two vehicles. "Hey boss, what's going on?"
"Hi Sam, put new battery cables on this Mustang as quick as you can; the lady's in a hurry," I ordered. "If we don't have the cables run over to Mel's and get them; he always has parts for these vintage Mustangs.
"You bet Boss," Sam answered. He walked over to Cyn, took her keys, and pulled her Mustang into one of the work bays.
"J J.'s Auto, James Jerrod, now I see," she said smiling.
"Yah, my friends and customers call me J.J."
She sobered a minute and said, "I hope this won't cost too much, I don't have a lot of money with me."
"Have you got $20?" I asked. When she nodded I said, "Good, take me lunch at Billy's and we'll call it even."
We went to Billy's for lunch while she waited for her car. Billy's is a bar and grill that serve the best burgers in town. As we ate we talked and I learned more about Cyn. She had just moved to St. Louis from Little Rock, Arkansas where she lived with her parents on a large farm.
Cyn had traveled around the U.S. for a year after college and then worked in Little Rock for about three years before moving to St. Louis. She was starting a job at a big insurance company here and Monday would be her first day.
She was curious about me too so I gave her the ten cent version. "Grew up in a little town in southern Missouri and went into the military after high school. I was a pretty good jack leg mechanic and spent my military career in the motor pool. After 6 years in the service of my country I mustered out to go to college." I stopped to get another beer and at Cyn's insistence I continued.
"At 24 I wouldn't have felt right about asking my folks for money for school so I worked my way through college as an auto mechanic. I didn't have the time or money or the inclination to party much and got a degree in mechanical engineering and by not taking summers off I was able to finish in three years. After graduation I decided that I would rather work with my hands on cars than sit at a desk doing drafting on a computer. Now I own and run J.J.'s, that's my story and I'm stickin to it," I finished with a smile.
Cyn listened without interrupting and then she finally got to the question that almost everyone gets to at some time, "How'd you get that?' she asked as she pointed to my scar. "If you had an eye patch and a parrot, you'd look like a pirate," she kidded me to take the sting out of her question. The big smile she gave me helped put me at ease.
"Ah yes, my beauty mark," I said. "It's the result of not learning how to duck." I hesitated to go into depth about the scar.
"C'mon there's got to be more to it than that. What happened?" Then Cyn muttered to herself something like "oh shit" and said. "I'm sorry; it's none of my business. I shouldn't have asked."
She started to blush and I could tell that she was embarrassed. "It's okay Cyn, don't worry about it. The story isn't something I just put out there at the drop of a hat." I smiled at her, now it was my turn to put her at ease.
"It happened while I was in the service. We were in some shit hole third world country and three assholes decided it would be cool to blow up our motor pool. I was working late on a Humvee, saw them, and tried to stop them. The scar is a result of that confrontation." "Were they able to blow up the motor pool? Is that where you got the scar?" Cyn wanted the whole story, I guess.
"No they forgot or didn't know that every U.S. Marine is a trained rifleman, even motor pool mechanics. My training enabled me to stop them but I got too close to one of them and he cut my face, ergo the scar." Telling that story always embarrassed me a little; I guess that's why I don't talk about it very often.
.... There is more of this story ...