The Device
Chapter 7

Copyright© 2013 by JOHNNY SACHU

David kept busy and focused with the '57 Oldsmobile for several months after her death. The 1950's Super 88 took his mind off Betty as well as the things he'd done in his Rocketeer outfit while using the device; Leveling military bases, threatening the United States existence, as well as the life of the assassin that had killed his girlfriend. That man was imprisoned, now, out there on his property, in the woods, alone, cold, and on half rations. But for the moment, David was completely immersed in the final stages of the street-rod rebuild of the old car.

David had found the car as an abandoned wreck in the woods, on his property, and was doing his level best to restore and bring it to his personal idea of street-rod perfection.

David had begun by stripping every nut, bolt, and body panel from the car, disassembling everything, including drive train, reconfiguring the dented body work, which was extensive on one side, and having all the body parts, including fairings, frame, and body panels electroplated for rust protection. He lowered the roof by two inches, chopping the struts and glass down, not an easy process, and actually hired a guy from California to help with that part of it, but it gave the car a great look.

He reassembled most of the pieces himself, after refurbishing them piece by loving piece, and had the body panels painted in a black paint so glossy it was hard to imagine how surreal it looked, almost as if someone had glossed over the color of outer-space itself. The local painter had done a fantastic job. David thought it was like looking into a clear pond of deep water. Then there was the nickel, brass, and chrome plating he'd had done for him at, Honor-Bright Plating, in the big city. Roughed out retro mag' wheels, with polished rim edges, completed the exotic looks of the old street vehicle. The car was beautiful, in David's eye, with the contrasting bright metals and depth of the dark shade of the bodywork, it seemed as dramatic a car as any in his cherished and still growing collection of hot-rods and motorcycles.

After the engine rebuild, by a company in Pennsylvania, David having given certain specification requirements to the engine specialists, he had reinstalled the motor into the newly repainted body before he'd remounted the front fenders. On the dyno', the mostly stock appearing engine, had been tweaked to over five hundred horsepower; five hundred and twenty-six, actually, from the stock three hundred, all from a three seventy-one cubic inch motor. Amazingly, everything was together again after only seven months of mostly solo work, David having just replaced the radiator cap after filling the car with fluids and installing the battery. The car was more than quite striking.

"Bitchen," he said with admiration. It gleamed on the shop floor like a dark, exotic jewel and it better, after all the effort.

David got in, sitting on the tyvek protective sheeting beneath his dirty clothes, and luxuriated in the wide tuck-and-roll front bench seat of white and black leather. He started the engine and it fired up immediately. The Oldsmobile sounded like a dragon in the echoing vastness of his huge shop/garage. He feathered the motor and it responded instantly. With the longer duration cam and high compression pistons, big stainless steel valves, porting and relieving, the engine was quick to make effortless horsepower and huge amounts of torque for use on the road. It wasn't an invincible car, just tough enough and tough looking, and had a strong, solid feeling to it, for David's frame of mind, behind that big steering wheel, with a dependable engine that could get him out of trouble, if needed.

David went inside for a quick shower and shave, getting rid of some of his built up peach-fuzz whiskers, and changing into some clean jeans and a T-shirt. The car was thoroughly warmed up when he returned, fifteen minutes later, and David found no leaks, anywhere. He closed the engine hood and took the remote off the leather bench seat, pointing it at one of the wide garage doors which rolled away, off to the side, obediently. Compressing the brake peddle, David put the car in drive. The Oldsmobile had a beefed-up automatic tranny in it, from B&M Hydro, and he felt the power of the engine connect, as the line of gears smoothly engaged. He pulled out of the mansion's huge garage, connected to the house, in a slow roll, listening for any sound that shouldn't be there, closing the big bay door behind him, electronically, again.

He followed the gravel driveway off his property, checking with finger tips to make sure the device was around his neck, as it always was, and that the stasis field of his ring was turned on, and only then left the compound's property safety-net with its huge stasis shielded area. The home stasis field protected it when he was away. Usually, any item he touched was safe from assault by anything on earth man could throw at him in the way of weaponry. Anything. It and the device, which stopped time, were the culmination of David's genius, thus far, and guarded him from the world. It had made him rich and probably immortal, but he used the time device sparingly as it had its one known side effect of making him younger, which he didn't understand just why, yet, when activated over several hours or more. Currently, he looked about sixteen even though he was in his early twenties. But even with his wimpy nerdy body transformed into something approaching a muscular athlete, David still looked like a young teen kid.

He pulled out onto the winding two lane blacktop that was the empty, paved, country road next to his extensive bit of mostly wild land, and accelerated down the corridor of pine trees and fern undergrowth, growing profusely along either side of the road. The big Olds roared with restrained ease in a throaty noise-muffled growl beneath plenty of hidden tension that begged to be exploited. But David kept the car under control. The motor wasn't broken in yet, but the way the car handled was amazing, experimenting by going a bit too quickly into several tight turns along the backcountry road. He had taken the body of the car to a suspension specialist in Chicago that worked on performance vehicles, before the final rebuild, when it was still in the mock-up stage, and they had done amazing things to the heavy car to help it handle like a grand-prix race car, or, as close as a big car like it could get to race car handling. It possessed a light, responsive feel to it, these days, nimble and adjustable in corners and he loved to accelerate fast coming out of them.

Way more than any car it's size, it had a 'one-with-you' feel to it. And with that engine producing so much power, it was a 'gas' to drive, as they used to say in the old days of hot-rodding. Something else he'd picked up from his father. It was way easy to maneuver, and David felt it well worth all the effort and money he'd put into the beautiful custom car.

The '57 Olds wasn't the fastest car nor was it trying to be. It was just a very good car with a dynamite look to it. It would be strong, fun, and reliable, and David thought he'd get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Especially with those five hundred plus horses under the hood.

He drove into town after a big loop through the country-side, testing and looking for leaks and squeaks, anything that needed attention as there usually was on a total rebuild like this. But happily, the car was as tight as a chunk of stone.

Pulling into the one remaining drive-inn's parking stall for some good quick food, those places that car-hops still brought trays of fast-fried and terrific grub to your window at, where David ordered a double-deluxe cheeseburger with fries, chocolate shake, and their huge measure of an icy Coke of about sixty-four ounces. He felt he deserved a treat, having worked hard for the last several weeks during the last of the rebuild, and staying totally on the project at home during final assembly, all these months.

David left the engine running, as he ordered, checking all the added gages after the car hop left, as the car idled. Seeing that everything appeared to be in perfect running order, he blipped the throttle with his right foot and shut off the ignition as he watched the young waitress sway a bit, walking away. The noise of the deep sound dying nearby made her turn and look back at him and at his black beauty sitting sexy and low, there, in the parking stall. She smiled a smile that meant she liked what she saw and heard. With the car quiet now, David heard only the exhaust pipes and other hot metal parts clicking and ticking beneath the vehicle as they cooled, like hot metal of irregular shape always does.

He looked at the completely detailed, repainted, and re-chromed dashboard. This Oldsmobile was made in an era when cars had real personality, when styling and flash was of the utmost importance to sales. The stock versions didn't handle or brake all that well, and there were plenty of construction flaws in the factory designs of this era, back in the late 1950's, but once overcome, the results of a refurbished, hopped-up car like this, was an amazing piece of machinery.

David had kept the original a-m radio in the car instead of buying some hi-tec thing with ten thousand buttons, dials, sliding bars, and multiple, auditory-damaging speakers. He liked the simplicity of the stock radio's one mode and turned it on. There was nothing but static on it so he began playing with the tuning dial and finally got an oldies station. Oldies to that station was music from the eighties and nineties but it was cool music with melody and a creative beat, not the current trend of no-talent, sound-alike musicians that did little more than scream rather than sing into the recording-mike without a voice that was entertaining, not to him anyway. He would have liked to have found a station that played fifties music, that would have been cool, considering the age of the Oldsmobile, but he was satisfied that he could actually recall some of the songs his parents once listened to.

David looked around at the other people in the parking stalls. Some teens were gawking at him from their little five-seat, no-class, 4 cylinder Hondas, Toyotas and what-knots, that had a spoiler on the trunk lid and probably an annoying little exhaust kit. Kids like that, just seven or eight years younger than him, thought that was a hot-rod. They just didn't get it. Street machines, or hot rods, were V8 engined jalopies or older American muscle cars, with two doors, not four. And you never drove around with four, or more, geeky guys in the car. That was the height of un-cool. You either had your best buddy or a girl friend with you, that, or you drove alone.

No class kids. Dumb kids. Ignorant, too, David thought. Dumb and desperately wanting to be seen to be looking tough and cool when everything they attempted to be, from the ragged baggy pants and backward turned gang-look-alike baseball hats, that screamed 'duffus loser', or 'I follow others like ewe's follow a herd', they always looked stupid and phony.

In other cars, fathers stole glances his way, appreciating the work put into the 1950's classic, checking things out with an envious eye, while wives and mothers were oblivious to the appearance of the vehicle. If anything, the throaty noise of the exhaust irritated them, even though they could block out the screams and horseplay and teasing their children made with one another. It always amazed David how selective and or indifferent women were when it came to machines and especially cars. Young girls seemed attracted to them. Mothers just got upset. Probably because they realized they used to gawk over boys and cars like that when they were teens and knew how vacuous the pursuit was, trying to get noticed so they could have a ride in one and be someone's girl. That or knowing what teenage guys with cars like his were after from a girl. What guys were always after. David believed most human activity, especially when it came to men and women's relationships, from his experience anyway, that they were nothing but stupid hormones and misplaced priorities. He'd been the victim of his own dumb decisions and chemistry, himself.

He gazed back at all of the people with minimal attention and quiet indifference, tapping his toe to a song, his detachment almost total. He was only interested in his activities, these days, like watching some of these cute waitresses. A couple were amazingly attractive. His waitress wasn't one of them, however, but she seemed very nice for a young girl of sixteen or seventeen. But David wasn't looking for a girl-friend. He was simply hungry and very tired, which might partially explain his mock-ish thoughts about others, he considered.

"Hey, Evans," he heard a familiar voice. David turned his head to see it was a fellow car enthusiast and casual friend he knew from the local wrecking yard. The guy had a distant rapport with David, who bought lots of old parts from him for his growing collection of cars and motorcycles.

"Hey, Rick. How are you?"

"Doing good. I see you got your Olds' running. So this is what you've been playing with for the last few months, huh? Sweet ride, dude."

"Yup. Just got it fired up and on the road today. This is my first test ride."

"Man. I don't even want to touch it, it's so pretty. Sounds bad, too. What kind of engine are you running?"

"It's the stock bore and stroke three seventy-one. I got it tweaked a bit, though. It feels strong but not out of control or touchy, you know?"

"Yeah! I understand. Cripes it's bitchen. The wheels are so cool. Old school lookin'. Can we check out the engine?"

"Sure," David said, and got out of the Olds. He lifted the long hood and revealed the engine of the old '88 model.

"It was an original J2, 371, which made about three hundred horse," he explained, "but it had a Racing Option decal on the rocker covers. Right there, see? I left the covers stock and un-chromed and I got the original cam train and pistons at home. I wanted more power, though, so I had Powel Racing rebuild it and they bumped the horses up a bit, but kept it dependable. They cleaned up the bores and used pop-up 12-to-1 pistons, put in a long duration cam, and did a lot of flow-work to the heads. Feels really tough, but they kept it sensible. I asked them to keep the stock tri-carbs, if they could, and they made them work. Feels really good when you blip the throttle. But the big change was the handling." David then explained all the details and improvements made to the chassis.

"I'll bet it does fly through the corners. Wow!" Rick said. "Man -- is it ever sick. You did everything right and everything to it. What kind of rear end ratio you running?"

"Close to stock. It's a three twenty-three, I think, but it's a completely new set up, as you can see, with a quick change and independent suspension. It's been gone through and toughened up to handle the weight of the car and all the extra torque."

"How's your gas mileage?" Rick laughed, both knowing a performance engine like this wouldn't really get good mileage. More like -- fill-up frequency.

"Don't know, but I'm guessing five to seven, if I'm lucky." They both grinned.

Rick's wife called to him. They were parked off to the side and behind the Olds.

"Okay. Be right there," he shouted. "Gotta go, Dave. Great job. You're going to have to show me that garage of yours, sometime. You're getting quite a collection, I'm guessing."

"Sure. Any time. You'll have to come in with me, though, through the gate. I've got some security measures set up and it wouldn't do to get too near them. I've got a lot of expensive stuff in the garage, so I'm taking some serious precautions. There's a call box by the entrance gate. If I'm home, I'll answer it."

"You're right at the mouth of the canyon, right?"

"Yup."

Rick's wife called, again.

"Gotta go buddy. Thanks for showing it to me. See ya."

"You bet. Later."

Rick got back into his car and listened to half another song before his car-hop brought him his food. He rolled up the window a little so she could hang the tray of food off the glass and stared at her chest, just over the top of the food, wondering like any kid would, what she looked like in a bathing suite, or not; then shamelessly remembering, he wasn't her age anymore, even if he did look it.

"That'll be fifteen, fifty-seven," she said.

David reached into the front pocket of his Levis' jacket for some money. He never carried money in his wallet. Then he looked at her, again. She was pretty, in her own way, and David liked her youthful smile and friendly attitude. She looked like the girl next door, you grow up around. He gave her a twenty and told her to keep the change.

"Thanks," she said, then paused before asking. "Do you go to school here?"

"No, I've already graduated," he said, and almost laughed. With three doctorates beneath his belt, the thought of going to high school was funny to him, but he didn't let his face show his thoughts. She seemed like a sweet girl and her voice was quite soothing. He imagined himself talking to her for hours about his life and hers.

"Oh! Do you live here?"

"Yes. Up the canyon," he said, rather softly.

"You sure have a cute car," she said.

David thanked her, paid her the money, and told her to keep the change, and began gathering and eating his burger and fries, after adjusting his stasis ring to allow him to eat more comfortably. As long as he was touching the food, he could eat it, but it was less restrictive with the setting adjusted lower.

The hamburger tasted especially good. It was juicy and thick, and the two big tomato slices dripped down the sides of his mouth with nearly every bite. The fry sauce made the salty fries pop with great taste and that Coke was so-so cold it really hit the spot. David was quite pleased with the meal and put another five on the tray for an added tip. He put the chocolate shake between his legs as he burped some of the coke bubbles out of himself and started the car. Turning on his lights, the signal for the girl to come get the tray, she walked over, rather sexily, now, and picked up the tray, thanking him. She really was cute in her own special way. She thanked him, again, and smiled real pretty. He put the car in reverse, backed out of his parking stall, then slipped the column shift into drive and left the parking lot slowly.

David drove up and down the streets of the city, breaking the newly rebuilt motor in. He got various kinds of looks and stares from every block he passed, even in the residential areas. Old men and women who glared, envious teens, and men working in their yards, looks of suspicion from mothers, kids that were passed with open eyes and mouths, they all had their reasons to stare, but it always seemed to get their attention. David felt they couldn't help but appreciated the car, in some manner. He grinned. Of course, I'm a bit prejudiced. But it looks pretty impressive, he thought. It should. It cost enough.

Mentally, David began to tally up a rough price-tag for the project, not counting his labor. It was quite a lot. Close to eighty thousand dollars had gone into this car and he knew he'd never get it out of it, if he tried to sell it for a profit. The only thing to do was drive and enjoy it. At car shows, he had always asked owners of other custom vehicles, multiple times, if they ever drove their cool expensive cars for fun, but rarely had he found anyone that did. They were investments to most of those wealthy people that just liked owning something uniquely beautiful. They didn't like getting their hands dirty or getting a paint chip on their precious vehicles and didn't have the vaguest idea how to actually build up a hot rod or street car. But they had the money to buy a completed one. They wanted trophies for their dens and garages to impress their friends and business associates, David guessed. Those sort of people weren't really enthusiasts. Just slobs with a healthy bank account.

David thought about his recent musings. Wow! I am getting pretty cynical. All this time alone and doing my little projects, working with applicable or abstract physics, and multidimensional theories, all this stuff that takes up most of my time, anymore, not to mention the X-box, and those other gaming toys; I'm getting to be that 'dull boy' everyone talks about. 'All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy'. Is that how it goes? Anyway, I haven't had time off to hook up with anyone for a long, long time, but then I don't really have any close friends, he confirmed, after considering it for a few moments.

David was rolling through his thoughts now, still, while driving, thinking about what he needed in his life and gradually came to the conclusion he needed 'Change'. "Change", he mumbled as he drove. But in what way? Thinking further on about it, he felt he needed to get out a lot more, with people he had something in-common with. But most academics bored the snot out of him, as did most of the physicists and mathematicians in college. Over inflated ego's were built into them, it seemed, as soon as they learned a few things. He thought way differently than them, anyway, and was probably why he could and did invent something like 'the device' and his 'stasis field' in the first place. They were stuck in conventional ways of thinking, whereas, he could be much more creative.

Then it came to David, half-way through a left hand turn, right out of the blue. He'd seen the ad in a recent Batman comic. 'Comic-Con' was coming up in July. It was a huge yearly convention of nerdy people, like himself, that liked comics and got together for socializing and comic industry appreciation. A gathering for 'it' as well as movie industry souvenirs. There it was. Comic-Con. People that enjoyed the same stuff he did, even though most were a bit on the verbose side and or ignorant of any real hard core science. But they liked the fun things at the convention, like him, and he still had his fake Rocketeer outfit to relate to them, or impress them with its attention to detail. Or heck, he thought, I could take my 'real' one and blow some peoples minds by flying with it. But did he really want to do that? Bring attention to himself? Show off his stuff, his genius, his secret accomplishments?

And there was still the government to consider. He had destroyed five military bases, last year. Six if you counted area 51, without hurting anyone, and broke into and out of the white house. No telling what those lackeys would try. He had warned them about retaliation and actually threatened the entire country which he did have the ability to destroy, single handedly, but wouldn't, of course. And even though they couldn't hurt him, as long as he kept his stasis field ring on or if he were in stopped time, the security-forces of the U.S. military could still cause him headaches, if they dared. They couldn't kidnap him, either. With the stasis on, he could get hit by a semi truck and he'd notice it, but wouldn't feel a thing, nor would his body move from that point. This power he'd invented was the greatest force in the world and he wasn't sharing it with them or anyone else. He had tried, at first, but everyone in five universities had scoffed at him and his ideas, so that solidified his resolve not to show it to anyone or try to share it anymore. "The hell with them all," he thought. Besides, he had warned the president of the flag-waving U.S.A. if they screwed, in any way, with him or any of his kind, leaving 'him' and 'his kind' rather vague, he would destroy America, completely and utterly. Were they that stupid to mess with him? He didn't think so. So -- David decided, he was going to go to Comic-Con and have some good old fashioned geeky fun.

San Diego was over two thousand miles from his home and he would be driving it. But he enjoyed driving. David didn't dare try to fly with the device around his neck, where he always kept it. He'd have to remove it at security, if he actually bothered to go through it, and he wasn't about to do that. Yes, he thought, I could skip it, but who knows what kind of seating rechecks they have hidden? I certainly don't know.

Back home, he packed the real Rocketeer suit in a big nylon bag and put it in the trunk of the Oldsmobile. The real suit would give him flexibility in case of an emergency. David took a very complete tool box and strapped it to the floor of the car's trunk, so it wouldn't shift and damage the suit, the 'Rocketeer' suit, much less the newly painted and carpeted interior of the trunk. He had one small duffle bag of clothes, with a small laptop packed inside, and an extra stasis ring. He'd leave that in the car. Talk about theft protection. They could hit the car with a missile housing a fifty megaton warhead on it and the car wouldn't even vibrate, much less get stolen. The stasis was the perfect security in all instances. No. The government wouldn't dare try anything, he was certain of that. It was almost carved in stone.

There was one thing left to do, though, he had to change the oil in the car before leaving. The engine break-in was complete. Four hundred miles was sufficient. He was going to leave that evening, but didn't, feeling his fatigue. So David serviced his vehicle and went to be early.

The following morning, David was so excited, he got up early to begin his journey and jumped in the Olds', even though he didn't need to leave for another week. He figured he could do some sight-seeing on the way down to the far corner of the contiguous southwest corner of the United States. He'd never seen Devils Tower or several of the nation's Indian reservations, in the adjoining states to his. He was supposed to be one quarter Cheyenne, on his father's side. That might be interesting -- to visit some Indian nations. And the Little Bighorn National Monument might be good to see. Then there was Yellowstone. Yeah. There's plenty of things to do.

David rethought his gear and returned from the house with everything he needed to camp out with in one compact ultra-lightweight backpack he'd perfected since leaving college for the last time.

He was about to leave, driving away from the house, then remembered the guy out in the woods. The assassin that had killed his Betty.

David cursed and brought the car to a sliding halt, upset to be bothered with the guy, again. He ought to just leave him without food for a few days, he considered, but thought better of it. Although he really hated the bastard and had debated doing it, he would really have liked to have killed the assassin who had killed Betty, but David hadn't. He could not bring himself to dispose of the man. The guy had been a killer in the military and after that, worked for the F.B.I., even though they'd swear to any sub-committee that they didn't kill innocent Americans. But the guy had been assigned to kill Betty and did the job in a most cruel fashion. David had forced it out of him, making him confess the details. That was all he knew about him and all he needed to know to make the guy suffer. After all, he'd confessed he'd done it, after several months of near starvation and the torture of being alone with himself and a returning guilty conscience, he'd written it all down.

David had ambushed the guy and brought him to the estate after having blackmailed the government for the man's name, after he'd had his 'animal' prison built. At least that's what he'd told the contractor who built the one room zoo-like structure. The assassin had lost a huge amount of weight as David felt no real compulsion to feed him much, very well, or even that frequently. He hated him for what he'd done to Betty, but David hated the government people that had given the orders even more. He was still working on that, but the guy had been stubborn, getting the information out of him. Now he was just a feeble, sniveling wimp that wasn't quite a man anymore.

David begrudgingly backed up, back into the garage, and turned off the car and went inside and began filling a small backpack with what he figured was a couple weeks of subsistence food but while in the act, thought better of it. He was tired of baby-sitting this clown. He wanted to be done with him.

With a brief plan forming in his mind, David retrieved the Rocketeer's suit from the trunk and donned it.

He opened the door and pushed the middle button on the device, stopping time, then stepped out into the hot sunlight. Without activating the sound effect of the engine or the light that duplicated a jet engine in afterburner, both of which were just for show, he flew silently to the concrete cage and opened the gates and security doors. The emaciated killer lay on his hard surface shelf hugging his one blanket, as if frozen in that position. He was stopped in time like the rest of the world and David picked him up. The body was almost weightless in stasis and stopped time. He removed his meager assortment of smelly clothing and wrote, 'This man is retired, or else', on the mans chest, with a black Sharpie pen.

The flight to the Capitol building in D.C., didn't take long, getting there at an unheard of speed, and dumped the body in the congressional speaker's lap, finding the big room after several minutes of looking around, having never been there before. He'd suffered enough. And even though he was near death, probably, David still hated his guts.

Back home again, David left at seven-thirty in the morning, stopping for some orange juice and a Steak and Egg Bagel from McDonalds.

He was finally out in the country side, now, and heading for the state line, westward, in his latest jewel of a car, the engine broken-in and flying down the highway at excessive speeds. Things couldn't be any better. David felt the exhilaration of the upcoming trip building. He needed this release, this vacation, and get-away from baby-sitting that government killer. It worried him, though, his attitude towards him. If he had kept treating him the way he did, the guy would probably have died within a few weeks or days and he would have become a killer, himself, at that point. The thought of that happening did not appeal to David. He didn't want to become what that twisted wreck of humanity was. Not in a million years.

He tried focusing on the driving and did enjoy the countryside. It was a beautiful time of the year in mid-July.

Taking the back roads, had been a good decision. David loved the sights of the passing scenery of pine and hills as well as the smells in the air. Every hour or so he got out of the car and stretched his trunk, back, and limbs on the roadside, looking around, taking an interest in the local scenery and generally appreciating nature or the farmland he was passing through. The state was a beautiful one.

Leaving Brainerd, David sipped on the melting ice in his drink cup and headed directly west, toward Moorhead, on the state line. By noon he was well into North Dakota and almost forced onto the Interstate, to make any kind of progress, but then he pulled off it in Driscoll to get some lunch.

It wasn't a big place, the town of Driscoll, but it had a couple of home town, sit-down cafes, having cruised the length of the main street business district, which wasn't huge. He pulled the car into a parking stall, across the street from one cafe, and parked the car where there weren't any others, slipping the extra stasis ring over the turn signal arm. The car was effectively indestructible, and untouchable, now.

Inside the cafe, David sat at the counter and ordered his usual on the road, sit-down morning meal, even though it was well past noon, of, two over-medium eggs, crispy hash-browns, and two sausage patties, with two warm biscuits on the side. Instead of coffee, David had hot chocolate, as always. The café was about half full of locals, a lot of older men were sitting together discussing politics, farming, and the weather. The waitresses were polite and the atmosphere was pure Americana. It looked like a Norman Rockwell painting had come to life in there and David felt relaxed sitting amongst the locals. When his food came, after a six minute wait, he leisurely began to eat and talk with his grandmotherly waitress.

"You just passing through, hon'?" she asked.

"Yes. I'm on my way to California, via Yellowstone," he volunteered.

"What's in California?"

"I'm headed for a comic book convention called Comic-Con. They hold it once a year and have all kinds of activities; Movie-prop displays; Up coming comics; Celebrities. It's quite the deal."

"Your parents let you go all alone?"

"I'm older than I look."

"I see. I never knew there was so much interest in comic books."

"Oh, they're big business now. The biggest money makers in recent years, from Hollywood, have been adaptations of comic book characters."

"Yeah! I guess that's true," she said. "You let me know, now, if you need anything," she said, and sidled off to other customers with a steaming pot of coffee in hand. David felt she wasn't really so interested as polite. But it was nice to talk to her.

After eating almost the whole plateful, an older fella, sitting alone, from across the isle asked, "That your dad's car, kid?"

David turned to see it was someone who looked about eighty-thousand years old. David thought he was ribbing him, but seeing him, and his interest, he answered: "No. I rebuilt it myself, mostly. It's all mine."

"Sure is a pretty thang," he drolled in his accent. "I used to have one-of-'em myself. Bought 'er new. It was red-n-white. Sure was a grand ol' car, she was ... Wish I still had 'er. They don't make 'em like that no more, do they?"

"No sir. They're quite unique these days. The few I still see around. Where's that car now days? Do you still have it?"

"Nope, but I know where she is. Sold it to a feller, a friend o'mine, and when he got through with it, he hauled it out to a corner of one of his fields and it's been there for thirty years. Sunk into the mud, now, up to it's axles. Wish I had her fixed up like your-n's. Sure is pretty."

David thanked the old guy and liked the grandfatherly fella, so much so, that he asked if he could sit with him. The old guy answered in the affirmative and David took a final bite of his hash browns then took his cup of chocolate over to the old guy's booth, along with a biscuit. He looked like he could use some company.

"Would you like to go for a ride in it?"

"I'd love that," he said, a big grin forming across his broad leather wrinkled face.

"Maybe you could show me your old car. I'm always on the look-out for a new project. You think the guy would sell it? I know sometimes people get pretty possessive about their old stuff."

"He might, if I were with you. He's an old farmer like m'self, so you never know. He's getting pretty old and slow, too. I might possibly talk 'em out of it."

David liked this old guy. "Okay then. Let me finish up here and we'll be on our way."

"Okay," the old guy said, with a huge grin. They exchanged names and shook their hello's with hands, vigorously. The retired farmer was surprisingly strong, he thought. Farmers always seemed to be.

Tipping his cup and swallowing the last of his chocolate, David put a twenty on the counter next to his finished plate of food for a twelve dollar bill. His funds were limitless, and money meant nothing to him. Why not spread it around with others? he thought. I've basically stole it all anyway.

Jake, the old guy, a variation of Jacob, David figured, directed him through some back rural roads to this other farmer's place. They cruised along the asphalt roads, bouncing a bit in the car with the much stiffer suspension, especially at slower speeds, as David told the old farmer about all the modifications he done to his car.

Jake was impressed but also countered, as they drove, with some background and advice, concerning his friend who owned the other car.

"He's a bit crusty on the outside but I know him well enough. We used to do a lot of palling around when we where young boys. We both got married and then went our separate ways, gettin' busy with our farms and families. His wife died a while back so I don't know how he's doin' these days. Could be he won't be too up to being friendly but all we can do is try."

"That's fine. We'll just see how it goes."

"If you already got a fine car like this-n, what you want with another-n?"

"I like to fix up old cars. It's about the only hobby I have."

"Kinda expensive, ain't it?"

"Yes. Very. I've made a lot of money in the stock market, though, and so I really don't even notice it. I guess you could call me rich, but I don't dwell on it much."

Old Jake nodded his head as if politely understanding but not knowing what to say about David's explanation, he thought. He was curiously quiet as they continued their drive down the bumpy farm country roads. Before too long, however, he pointed at an upcoming farmhouse and said, "That'll be Ronald's place, there."

David cruised slowly onto the property and shut off the car. He parked near to the house. A dog barked from inside the house. They got out and David helped Jake up the steps.

"Ronald? Hey you old dirt farmer. You in there?"

"Yeah I'm in here. What the hell are you doing racing up and down my driveway."

"Trying to get you up off of that couch of y'rn's. This har' feller wants to buy my old Oldsmobile if you got no more use for it?"

"I haven't had any use for it for thirty-four years, you know that, Jake, you old horse thief. You sold that piece of junk to me, remember?"

"Now don't go embarrassin' yer'self. Everybody knows what a cheap skate you are, Ronald. I'll be you didn't spend a single dime on keeping it fixed up, now, did ya?"

"Who you calling a cheap skate, you ol' penny pinching cahoot?"

David thought they were gonna start swinging fists when suddenly they both burst out laughing. David joined in with them, though a bit nervously.

"Come on in," said Ronald, swinging the screen door wide. You want a coke, there, sonny?"

"If its all the same to you, sir, I'd like to go look at the car, if I might?"

"Sure. Sure. It's right past the barn about half a mile. You can take that ATV in the barn an' have a gander at 'er. Be sure and close the gate to the field. I don't want them cussed cows to get loose, again."

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