Thunder and Lightening
Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac
The rage boiled up to the surface as Jerry leaned across his desk and hit the surface of it with his right fist. He yelled, “What do you mean we’re out of anti-freeze? We’re a car parts place and shouldn’t ever be out of anti-freeze!”
Mike looked over at his boss, terrified at the sight presented to him. Jerry was a huge man, but there was no way that anyone could call him fat. Not a weight lifter or athlete, Jerry had been cursed with a large build that had filled in with muscle. His upper body looked more like that of a gorilla than that of a human. When he was angry, his face turned dark and the vein in his forehead throbbed. His gravelly voice, loud under normal circumstances, reached volumes during an angry outburst that hurt ears. Jerry being angry wasn’t a rare occasion. He was angry more often than not.
Stammering, Mike answered, “I’m a salesclerk, not a stock manager.”
“Excuses. I don’t accept excuses!”
“This is bullshit. I quit!” Mike stormed out of the office, angry and afraid, wanting to put as much distance as he could between him and Jerry as quickly as possible. He knew that he would probably die if Jerry were to hit him. He didn’t trust Jerry not to hit him, particularly when he was this angry.
Jerry sat down on his chair and snarled at the door. His rage felt that the coward wasn’t worth the effort to chase him down. When the telephone rang, he picked it up and, irritated at the interruption, answered, “What?”
Mr. Sinclair, his boss, was taken aback by the less than friendly greeting. He said, “Jerry, this is Al. I hate to say this, but you didn’t get the promotion.”
Still furious at Mike, the bad news only served to fuel his rage. Jerry asked, “Why in the hell not?”
“You have too high of an employee turn-over rate.”
“That’s bullshit. There isn’t another manager that’s been here as long as I have,” argued Jerry. This day was going from bad to worse. There was no way that he was going to be able to explain to that harpy of a wife that he didn’t get the promotion.
Al was quiet and then said, “They don’t want to risk that same kind of turn over of our managers if you get promoted. Sorry, but that’s the decision.”
Blood boiling, Jerry slammed down the receiver down and sat at his desk staring at the door. He felt like breaking it into a thousand little pieces, and knew that he could do it. Once in high school, a kid had been picking on him by calling him the Hulk and he had retaliated by chasing the kid through the school. The kid had ducked into a classroom and locked the door terrified that he was going to get killed. The principal had stopped him after he had beaten down the door into the classroom by battering it with his bare fists. The memory left a sour taste in his mouth and reminded him that he needed to control his temper.
Sammy, the kid that worked in the store after school knocked on the door and slowly opened it. Looking around the door, he said, “Mr. Smith, Mike just left. I’m all alone here and there are customers waiting.”
“God damn. What are you doing talking to me? Go out there and take care of them,” shouted Jerry at the closed door as Sammy had already left. He sat there in his chair for a minute and then swore, “Damn kid. Doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. I’d better get out there and salvage the situation.”
Jerry went through the customers quickly, taking their orders and filling them with ease. The line of customers dwindled and then disappeared as closing time approached and passed. Sammy didn’t stick around after the store closed because a nasty summer storm was brewing on the horizon and he had to pedal home on his bicycle.
After calling in the anti-freeze order, Jerry closed up the store wondering who was going to work the counter tomorrow. Mike’s quitting made him three people short and he hadn’t had anyone come in the store looking for a job in four months. Swearing, he went through the store checking the inventory to determine if he needed to order anything. It took him an extra hour to write down the things that he needed to order immediately. He would have to call in the order in the morning, but at least he could do it first thing and they could ship it out that day.
It was thundering by the time that he left the store. Black clouds hung low to the ground, swirling in anger. Turbulent winds created a menacing atmosphere of impending doom. Jerry looked up at the sky, growling at it as though he dared it to rain on him.
He muttered, “With my luck it’ll probably hail.”
After getting into his car, he sat in the seat trying to fight down the rage enough to make the trip home. He hated the drive through the bumper to bumper traffic of rush hour. Eight of the twelve miles home were on a highway that was too small for the traffic it carried and had been since the day it was built. He didn’t want to live in the neighborhood where his house was located, but his wife had insisted because it was a better neighborhood. Better than what, he didn’t know and didn’t care. The bitch had gotten her way. It wasn’t the first or last time that had happened. What he wanted didn’t matter.
He started home, but less than a mile from the store the traffic came to a complete halt. The sky continued to threaten rain, but that wasn’t the problem. Two cars had a minor fender bender and that had backed up traffic even more than usual. Jerry laid on his horn, giving vent to his anger even though he knew that it wouldn’t change the situation. The man in the car next to his gave him the finger. Jerry almost climbed out of his car to let the man know what he thought of getting the finger. Instead, he just honked his horn even more.
Twenty minutes later, he edged around a disabled car even as one of the tow trucks hauled away one of the crashed cars. The rain had not started, but the clouds grew ever darker as the sound of thunder seemed to shake the car. He couldn’t see any lightning bolts, but the clouds occasionally lit up.
The tow truck was moving down the road well below the speed limit and he swore in frustration, “Son of a bitch, use your accelerator! Damn, I’m never going to get home at this rate!”
The towed car hit a pothole and the back end bounced off the road. The bumper, hanging loose after the accident, fell off the car and skittered down the road. Jerry slammed on his brakes trying to avoid the bumper, but he had been crowding the towed car and it just wasn’t possible to avoid it. There was a horrible clang as car and bumper made contact. Swearing, Jerry managed to pull his car off the highway before it started smoking. Once there, the engine turned over for the last time.
Furious, Jerry threw the door of the car open and walked around to the front of the car. The bumper hung out from under his car. Getting down on his hands and knees, he saw that the bumper had gone through the oil pan. The rage within him, always held back by the thinnest of threads, burst free. He pulled the bumper out from under the car and bent it in half before throwing it onto the hood of his car. Calming down a little, he swore, “The engine is totally shot.”
A lightning bolt hit a light post less than ten feet away and the thunder knocked him to the ground. At that moment, the clouds tried to establish a record on how fast they could dump water on the ground below. Jerry was soaked to the bone by the time he picked himself off the ground and made it back inside of his car. Leaning forward, he rested his head on the steering wheel.
Seated there, he could feel the rage seething within him. Oh how he hated the rage. It was his constant companion, always fighting to burst forth and wreak havoc on his life. He fought to keep it down, but knew that it was about to escape. Perhaps this time he would only damage his car.
His thoughts were interrupted by a sudden knock on the window. Looking up, he saw an elderly man struggling to hold an umbrella against the gusts of wind. The poor old guy looked completely overwhelmed by the weather. Jerry lowered the window and heard the man shout, “You want a ride out of this weather?”
The kindness shown him helped fight down the rage. It still was a half a minute before Jerry answered, “Sure.”
Rolling up the window, he followed the old man to his car and got in the passenger side. The old man took his time getting his seatbelt fastened and getting situated in his seat. With a friendly glance at Jerry, he said, “There’s a nice little coffee shop at the next exit. How about I buy you a cup of coffee? You look like you could use a little break.”
Slumping in his seat, he rubbed his forehead striving to hold off a headache and to fight back the rage. Jerry answered, “Thanks.”
The man pulled out into traffic driving slow in consideration of the rain. At the next exit, he pulled off the highway and at the end of the exit drove into the parking lot of a small waffle house. The two men went inside and seated themselves at a table. Jerry was soaked and the water dripping from his clothes had made the seat wet as well.
After the appropriate exchange with the waitress, she brought over a carafe of coffee before going over to wait on other customers. The old man poured two cups and slid one across the table for Jerry. After taking a sip of the hot coffee, Jerry slowly relaxed and said, “Thanks, I needed this. I was about to tear that car apart with my bare hands.”
The old man’s body didn’t give any hint as to how he might have looked when he was younger. With a little weight and a younger man’s muscles, he could have been a very physical guy. The old man smiled and replied, “I used to be like you. All full of rage just waiting to bust loose. One day, I lost my temper and spent the next twenty years in the pen.”
“It’s not going to happen to me,” countered Jerry as his anger returned.
“Right,” replied the old man in a voice that conveyed total disbelief. It was the same tone of voice one would use with a drunk swearing he wouldn’t drink anymore. He took another sip of his coffee, pulled three dollars out of his pocket, and, as he stood, said, “I’m going to go on my way now. You can call a cab and get a ride home from here.”
Ready to argue with the old man, Jerry bit back his retort as the old man turned and left the waffle shop. He swore, “Son of a bitch. Tell me something like that and then leave. The f•©ker tells me I’m going to spend time in the jail and won’t stay to hear why he’s wrong.”
After fuming for five minutes, he went to the pay phone and called a cab. When he was told that it was going to be a half an hour before a cab could show up, he growled at the dispatcher that they should get more drivers. He stomped back to the table and drank another cup of coffee waiting for the cab. Angry at the car for being wrecked, he decided that he’d just leave it where it was until tomorrow. If he were lucky, they’d tow it away and he’d never have to bother with it again.
He looked at his watch and realized that he’d be home two hours late. His wife was going to throw a fit. Tense, he went back to the pay phone and called his wife. She didn’t answer and he went back to the table even angrier. He thought, ‘Damn bitch probably got tired of waiting for me and took the kids out to dinner. I’ll catch hell tonight.’
He had finished the carafe of coffee and gone to the bathroom twice by the time the taxi showed up. The driver, a Pakistani, didn’t understand English and it took Jerry five minutes to get across where he wanted to go. He was close to losing his temper, but managed to keep it in check. Twenty dollars later, he got out of the cab in front of his house and went in to face the family.
Opening the door, he was greeted by the shrill voice of his wife, “Where in the hell have you been?”
His hands clenched and the muscles along his back tightened as he answered, “I had a car accident and lightning almost hit me.”
Without any evident concern for his welfare, his wife screeched, “You couldn’t call and let me know?”
“I called but no one answered.”
“I expect you’ll want to use my car for the next few days. Shit, what am I supposed to do trapped in the house all day long while you’re at work? I have tennis lessons tomorrow.”
He hadn’t expected any real concern for his well being, but her total self-involvement fed fuel to his anger. His rage grew to the point where it was barely under control and he screamed, “Shut the f•©k up, bitch!”
“Did you get any news on the promotion? I’m tired of having to say that you are just the manager of an auto parts house.”
“I didn’t get the promotion,” replied Jerry as he struggled to keep the rage under control. He knew what would happen next and his rage beat on the door begging to be let loose.
Livid, her face a pale white, she screamed, “You f•©king loser! I could have married half a dozen guys that are more successful than you are. How dare you blow it! I’m not going to be able to show my face in public again. Everyone will say, there goes that woman married to the loser.”
As his face darkened and the vein on his forehead throbbed, his fist clenched. He bit his tongue to keep himself from losing it completely. He could taste blood in his mouth, but ignored it in his anger. Barely able to control himself, he asked, “What’s for supper?”
“We waited for you get home. When you didn’t come home, we went out to eat,” she spat the words back at him. With a sneer, she added, “Take care of dinner yourself. If you can’t be successful, then don’t expect me to work myself to the bone for your benefit.”
A vision of his fist flattening her face flashed through his mind. For a second, everything went black, but he fought his rage. Gaining control, he realized that he had taken three steps towards her without knowing it. He went to the closet and removed his raincoat and after slipping it on headed out of the house. As he slammed the door behind him, he heard his wife shout, “You need to talk to Billy. He got into a fight at...”
Turning back to the closed door, he whispered, “You deal with it, bitch.”
Four blocks away was a shopping center with a Chinese Restaurant and he made that his destination. Trudging through the rain as lightning lit the way and thunder threatened to break his eardrums, he didn’t pay any attention to his surroundings. It came as a complete surprise when he found himself in the shopping center walking past the restaurant.
Entering the restaurant, he selected a booth and sat in the middle of the seat where he would have plenty of room for his broad shoulders. Resting his elbows on the table, he looked at his meaty hands. Most men’s hands disappeared inside his when they shook hands with him. He hated his hands, feeling like they were representative of his over-large stature that made him a freak. He couldn’t even count the number of names he had been called in his life. Apeman, Hulk, Gorilla, Monster Man, and Iron Man were just a few of the nicknames he’d heard.
When the smallish oriental woman came to the booth to take his order, he said, “I should have been born two hundred years ago. I would have made one hell of a blacksmith.”
Confused, the waitress asked, “Did you say you want two number fours with hot tea?”
Jerry shook his head and said, “No. I want the Mongolian Beef and Broccoli with iced tea.”
“Okay,” replied the woman as she ran off to put in the order. She was terrified of this man and always dreaded his visits to the restaurant. He was so big and gruff that she felt like he could squash her like a bug and never even notice. She had seen him angry once and the sight was forever etched in her memory.
Jerry stared at his hands, opening and closing them with slow controlled movements. The walk from the house in the rain had eased his rage to where it was well under control. His thoughts were interrupted when the waitress showed up with a bowl of won ton soup. He grabbed the soupspoon in his massive hands. It looked small in his hands as though a child should be using it.
After taking a taste of the soup, he started talking to himself. “I’m miserable bastard. Where in the hell does this rage come from? Why can’t I be happy like everyone else?”
He took another sip of his soup and continued his dialog with himself. His deep voice rumbled across the room. “I know why. I’m too f•©king big. People look at me like I’m some kind of freak.”
Pausing to take another sip of his soup, he struck the table with his other hand and exclaimed, “I’m not a freak.”
A family of four, seated at table near his, picked up their plates and moved to a table further away from him. Self-involved with his monologue, he didn’t notice. He muttered, “No. I treat people like shit. Always on the verge of hitting them. Let’s face it, I’m not a very nice person.”
The waitress, moving carefully, removed the empty bowl and set his dinner on the table. Without consciously noticing the change, he started to eat his meal using his spoon to shovel it into his mouth. “The old guy was right. If I don’t do something soon, I’m liable to kill someone and get life in jail.”
Still using his soup spoon, he shoveled a mouthful of fried rice into his mouth. The dry texture made him realize that he had finished his soup. He changed to the fork and watched as it disappeared in his hands. “So what am I supposed to do about it? F•©k if I know.”
“I’d like to be a better person, but this damned rage of mine just won’t let go of me. How can you be a nice person if everyone around you pisses you off?” His fist clenched and bent the handle of the fork. It was a simple matter to bend it back.
“Shit, I should become one of those goody-two-shoes that goes around helping everyone. I’ve never tried that before.” He laughed at the image of him helping little old ladies across the street by throwing a half dozen of them over his shoulders and getting cats out of a tree by ripping the tree out of the ground. That was replaced by the image of someone thanking him for his help. The laugher slowly died on his lips as a sobering thought came to mind. When was the last time that anyone had said anything nice to him? He couldn’t remember there ever being an instance of that in his life.
After a little time, he looked at his plate realizing that he had eaten the entire meal. He had even eaten the fortune cookie, paper and all. “I must be going crazy. The f•©king headlines will read, Police Put Down Mad Gorilla On Rampage.”
He picked up the bill and looked at the seven forty nine total. Pulling a ten out of his wallet, he left it on the table and headed out of the restaurant. Outside, he looked at the rain and wondered what he should do next. He didn’t have a car. His wife had probably locked him out of the house and his keys were still in the car that he had abandoned on the highway. Still talking to himself, he said, “There’s that used car lot six blocks from here. The cars they sell are shit, but usually last at least a month.”
Heading to the used car lot, he walked on the sidewalk thinking about his situation. About a block from the used car lot, he stopped and looked up at the sky. Making a fist and shaking it at the sky, he shouted, “One of these days, someone is going to say something nice about me!”
The only answer the sky gave was another bolt of lightning and a crash of thunder. The rain came down a little harder.
At the car lot, the salesman didn’t want to go out in the rain to help Jerry, but his greed overcame his reluctance. He ran out to the car that Jerry was examining. The tires were worn and the shocks were shot, but the paint was perfect. Drawn on the windshield in white shoe polish was the price, five hundred dollars. It was worth two hundred dollars at most. This was the bait car to get people in to shop. The idea was to bait people with a good looking piece of trash at a low price and then get them to buy one of the other cars that didn’t look as nice, but ran better at twice the price.
When the salesman arrived, Jerry asked, “Do you have the keys for this one?”
The salesman fumbled through his key ring and found the key. He slipped into the car and started it up. A blue cloud of smoke billowed out from the back as the entire car rumbled. The muffler had a hole and the rings were shot. It would need a lot of work before it would be safe. Mentally, Jerry lowered the value of the car to an even hundred.
He looked over at the car next to it and said, “Start that one.”
The salesmen went over to the other car and started it. It started right up, but a light blue cloud came out the rear. Jerry pressed down on the car and saw that the shocks were bad, but the tires would last for another five thousand miles. After a little negotiation, Jerry took the car out for a quick test drive. The brake shoes were bad, but they could be replaced fairly easily.
He brought the car back to the lot and told the salesman, “I’ll give you five hundred for it.”
“Are you crazy? That car is worth a thousand dollars,” replied the salesman. He had a big fish and wasn’t going to let it go. He thought that this big dumb oaf would finance the car and it would be repossessed within two months. He’d already sold this particular car three times and made twice what he bought it for in the process.
His anger at being treated as though he was stupid slowly boiled to the surface, but maintaining control Jerry replied, “Only to someone that wants to commit suicide.”
He looked around the lot and, in the light of a flash of lightning, spotted a pick up truck parked in the back under a tree. He wandered over to it and saw that it was at least thirty years old. The tires were flat, the body was dented from hard use, and the bed appeared to be rusted out. Calling the salesman over, he watched as the man tried to start the truck. The half-dead battery had very little power, but the engine turned over a couple of times. The salesman frowned and said, “I haven’t started it in a year. Let me get something to help it start.”
Jerry watched the man run off. While the salesman was gone, he examined the truck with a critical eye. The mechanical parts of the truck looked to be in pretty good shape, but the body was a total disaster. The salesman returned and popped the hood. After spraying some insta-start in the carburetor and connecting the jumper battery, he returned to the cab and cranked the engine. After a couple of turns, the engine started right up. Jerry looked at the gauges and saw that the battery was charging. The muffler needed to be replaced, but the engine didn’t sound that bad.
The salesman came back to where Jerry stood and said, “Can’t believe it started.”
“I’ll give you four hundred for it,” offered Jerry.
Considering that the truck had been on the lot for three years and this was the first time anyone expressed interest in it, the salesman wasn’t about to argue. It took an hour to fill out all the required paperwork and after using his credit card, Jerry was the new owner of a broken down old truck. After filling the tires with air, Jerry drove it off the lot and headed towards his store. The brakes were a spongy and required some work, but the truck ran fairly smoothly considering how long it had been sitting there. His first stop was to put some fresh gasoline in the tank. That smoothed the old truck’s engine even more.
On the way to his store, he passed by his wrecked car. It was still parked where he had left it. He got off the highway and drove under the highway overpass. He returned to the highway going the other way, and stopped behind his Camero in order to pick up his keys that he had left in the ignition. Looking over it, he decided that he would get it fixed after he fixed the truck. Between the Camaro and the truck, he preferred the truck. Even though the Camaro was over twenty-five years old, he knew it would be worth a fortune if he fixed it up.
Jerry groaned as he woke from his night’s sleep on the couch in the back of the store. He had found the couch years ago. It had been set out on the curb as trash by the previous owner. He had brought it to the store with the intention of having a place for his employees to sit when on their breaks. It turned out to be a fortuitous find, as he had slept on it on more than one occasion. He suspected that the couch would be his bed for the next few weeks. Sitting up, he considered the events of the evening before. That lightning had really come close to hitting him. In what was becoming a habit of talking aloud to himself, he said, “She didn’t care that I might have gotten killed last night. I don’t care to go back to her.”
Having made the decision to leave his wife, he felt good about himself. The rage, which was always just below the surface, eased back a little. Sitting there, he realized that this was the second decision that he had made in a long time that put him first. The first had been the truck last night. He stood up and stretched feeling the muscles loosen.
Going outside, he examined his purchase of the night before. Three of the tires on the truck had lost air, but the fourth was still good. In the light of day, the truck looked even worse than it had on the lot in the dark and rain. He smiled as he looked at the truck knowing what everyone else would think about it. Big stupid Jerry had made another bonehead decision. What he had thought was rust in the back of the truck was actually a rotted wooden truck bed. He couldn’t believe his luck. Patting the hood with affection, he said, “I’m going to call you Thunder.”
He checked his watch and saw that he would have to open the store in an hour. Glancing over at the donut shop, he sighed as he considered another donut breakfast with a cup of coffee. He’d had too many of those in his life and decided that would have to change soon. Talking to the truck, he asked, “How can you like yourself if you treat yourself like shit? Once I get you functional, I’m going to start eating real breakfasts.”
Locking up the store, he went down the street to the donut shop where he stood in line behind the regulars that stopped in for coffee every morning. The woman behind the counter glanced at him with disinterest and asked, “What will it be today?”
“Two chocolate frosted glazed, and a large coffee.”
With her normal dispatch, she grabbed two donuts and threw them into a bag. A foam cup was quickly filled with coffee from a nearly empty pot. In one smooth motion, she grabbed a plastic lid and fixed it onto the cup. Setting the bag and the cup on the counter, she said, “Two fifty.”
Jerry pulled out three dollars from his pocket and slapped it on the counter. Grabbing his bag and coffee, he turned to leave the donut shop. The woman behind the counter called out, “You forgot your change.”
Deciding that the fifty cents didn’t matter to him, he answered, “Keep it.”
As she slipped the coins into her pocket and turned to the next customer, he stepped outside and checked the sky. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. As a man headed towards the door of the donut store, Jerry said, “It’s going to be a hot one today. With all the rain last night, it’s going to be humid, too.”
The man didn’t answer, but looked at him as if he were crazy. He slipped around Jerry and entered the restaurant, relaxing only when there was a closed door between him and the large man. Jerry didn’t notice and just repeated, “Yes. It’s going to be a hot humid day, today.”
Returning to the store, he unlocked the door and took a seat at the counter. Eating his donuts and drinking his coffee, he waited for the first customer even though it was still a half an hour before the store officially opened. As he ate and waited, he considered what he would do with the truck. The first business at hand was getting the brakes fixed and new tires put on it. He’d also have to make arrangements to have his other car towed, but he didn’t really have a place for the car. He realized that he didn’t even have a place for himself.
His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Mike. Mike, seeing that Jerry was seated at the counter threw the store keys to the counter keeping his distance. He said, “I brought the keys back.”
Taking a deep breath, Jerry said, “Mike. I would like to apologize for last night. I was out of line.”
Stunned, Mike looked at Jerry for a long time not knowing what to say. In the entire two years that he had worked at the store, Jerry had never apologized. Finally, he stuttered, “Oh, okay...”
Jerry had been hoping for more than that, but he didn’t let it bother him. Instead, he said, “I would really appreciate it if you came back to work here.”
Mike slowly shook his head and replied, “Mr. Smith. I’m sorry but I’m not sure I can do that.”
Mike flinched as Jerry shifted in his chair. Settling down in his seat, Jerry took a sip of his coffee having seen the reaction of Mike to his movements. It hurt knowing that every move that he made was seen as a threatening gesture. After swallowing his coffee, he asked, “Do you have a job?”
Jerry thought about it for a moment and then said, “Type up your resume and send it around. While you are waiting for an answer, you can work here. If you get a call, you’re free to leave for the interview. If you get a job, drop the key to the store in my hand and go.”
It was a fair offer and one that Mike didn’t want to turn down. It was tough finding a job and he had bills to pay. He said, “I’ll have to talk to my wife about it.”
Nodding, Jerry said, “Fair enough. You talk to her. If you can work today, I’ll give you this weekend off so that you can take your wife and kids to the lake to do some skiing in that boat of yours.”
That was the best offer that Mike was going to get and he knew it. He shuffled his feet as he thought the matter through. He had sworn the previous night that he would never work for Jerry again. Finally, he said, “Let me talk to my wife.”
Knowing it was highly doubtful that Mike would come back to work, Jerry said, “Why don’t you use the phone in my office to call her? It’ll give you a little privacy.”
The phone rang and Jerry picked it up. It was the brake shop from the other side of town. They needed several sets of brake pads, rotors, and a couple gallons of brake fluid. Jerry wrote down the order and then hung up the phone. He looked up at Mike surprised to see him still there and said, “Go on. Go talk to your wife.”
Nodding, Mike went into the back of the store to make the call. While Mike was making the call, Jerry pulled the order. When he pulled the brake pads, he realized that the brake shop could repair the brakes on his truck and the tire store could replace the tires. He finished pulling the parts and put them in a bag for the runner who would arrive in fifteen minutes or so. The runner was a guy that ran a pickup service for a number of businesses in the area.
The quiet in the store was broken when the runner stepped through the door setting the bells ringing. He was here to pick up the order that had been phoned in earlier. Jerry greeted him, “Hello, Howard. How many times am I going to see you today?”
“Dozen, maybe more,” replied Howard as he examined the contents of the bag. Satisfied that it was all there, he signed the paper for the pickup and left without another word.
Jerry watched him go and realized that he had never had a conversation with the guy. He frowned at the realization that he wasn’t a friendly person and left the counter. Going to the back door, he opened it and looked at his truck parked there. It was an absolute wreck and, for some strange reason, the more he looked at it the more he loved it. He said, “Well, Thunder, after Mike gets off the phone I’ve got some calls to make. We’ll get you all fixed up.”
He returned to the counter and waited for Mike to come out of his office. It was a long wait, and he figured that it meant that it was a very tough decision. Surprising himself, he hoped that Mike would stay. Mike came out of the office and fidgeted a moment before he said, “I’ll stay, but I’d like to take my wife out to lunch if that’s okay. I kind of promised her that last night.”
Picking up the store’s keys, Jerry tossed them to Mike as he said, “That’s a good idea.”
Turning to the phone, Jerry began wheeling and dealing with the owners of auto shops around town to get the essential parts of his truck functional. It was the first time that he had engaged many of the storeowners in conversation rather than taking orders and at times he felt a little uneasy. He ended up swapping parts for labor costs coming out well ahead on the deal since he was able to buy the parts at wholesale prices. He also arranged for his other car to get towed to the back of the store.
While Jerry was on the phone, Mike went to the back door and stared at the truck parked there. He couldn’t believe that Jerry was spending so much time on such a wreck. He came back into the store and said, “Mr. Smith. I’m not sure that you got such a good deal on that truck.”
“Call me ‘Jerry,’ and I’ve never had a better deal in my life,” replied Jerry with a smile. For the first time in a long time he didn’t feel the rage, and it felt good.
Edited By TeNderLoin