Thunder and Lightening
Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac
As the smell of coffee filled the house, Bill came staggering out of his bedroom rubbing the sleep from his eyes and yawning with a muted roar. Despite being sleepy, he had been looking forward to this day for a long time. At long last he was getting his cast removed. He glanced in the kitchen, not wanting to go into the cold room but it was difficult for him to resist the coffee and the French Toast.
Bracing himself, he went into the kitchen and sat down at the table where Jerry had set a cup of Coffee and plate of French Toast for him. Looking over at this father, he said, “Today’s the day.”
“Yes, it is.” This was his day off and he had plans to be busy the whole day. Those plans included taking Bill to school and then picking him up to take him to the hospital to have the cast removed.
“I’ll be so glad to get this off,” said Bill as he looked at the cast. It was covered with signatures and witty remarks. The kids at school and in the neighborhood had signed the cast to show their support. Although Bill wouldn’t say it, the signatures meant a lot to him. Last year, he wouldn’t have been able to get even one.
The pair ate breakfast, each thinking their own thoughts about the day in front of them. Monday’s were the best school day of the week for Bill. That was the only day of the week that he didn’t have to get to school early, so that his father could get to work on time. It meant a hot breakfast and no time spent in the library. Usually, the time spent after school included some sort of father son activity. Last week it had been a movie. The cast put a damper on the kinds of things they could do together.
Bill finished first and took his plate to the sink. He rinsed it off so that it would be easier to wash. Going back to the table, he grabbed the cup of coffee and headed to the bedroom to get ready for school. He would be ready in plenty of time to make it to school.
Jerry pulled away from the school after waving goodbye to his son who was joining his friends outside. His first stop was going to be picking up a new scooter for his son to replace the one that had been lost the night of the great storm when he had ridden it over to the house. He was looking forward to seeing the look on his son’s face when he was presented with the new scooter.
He turned on the radio of the truck. It was an AM radio with the old fashioned mechanical knobs. As the drone of talk radio filled the air of the cab, Jerry drove along taking the scenic route that took him through older neighborhoods with tree covered lanes. The highway would take him a quarter of the time, but he wanted to enjoy the morning.
Everything was fine until he reached one of the few busy intersections. When he stopped his truck at the traffic sign, an older model Toyota driven by a woman putting on her make up, and talking on her cell phone, came up from behind him and passed without even slowing at the stop sign. As the car ran into the intersection a Saturn hit her broadside behind the passenger door. The crash was thunderous, as glass and metal flew through the air.
Jerry watched in disbelief as the events unfolded in front of him, appearing to him as if everything was moving in slow motion. Automatically, he turned off the engine of the truck as he reached for his cell phone. He had made the call to 911 even before the cars had finished spinning.
Carrying his cell phone, he left the truck to see what he could do to help the occupants of cars involved in the wreck. Before he had closed the door of the truck, an SUV crashed into the Saturn. Jerry froze, concerned about entering the road as other cars came to abrupt stops with a squealing of tires.
When the 911 operator came on line, he started telling her what was happening. Even as he spoke, others were leaving their cars to render aid. As he described the situation to the operator, he realized that he was totally clueless about how to help them. He answered the questions of the operator even as sirens screamed the message that all was not well.
The first official car on the scene was a police cruiser and Jerry let the operator know that the police had arrived. After a minute, he hung up the phone satisfied that he had done what he knew he had to do to help the situation. When he went over to the police cruiser to wait, a fire truck pulled up to prevent fires from breaking out. With the arrival of officials, many of the people that had rushed to render aid returned to their cars.
Jerry knew that as an eyewitness, the police would want to question him so he waited out of the way of the action. It seemed to take a long time before ambulances started arriving. He watched as a number of firemen gathered around the Toyota trying to get the door open to get access to the woman inside.
Watching, he realized they were going to have a very tough time getting the door open. He headed over to help. With each step, he recalled the words and insults thrown at him by his ex-wife trying to wake the rage inside. The rage, surprised to be called upon, responded and he could feel his muscles swelling with power the closer he came to the car. A low growl emerged from his throat, catching the attention of the rescuers. Under normal conditions they would have moved to stop him, but they backed away upon catching sight of his red face, throbbing vein in his forehead, and the angry expression on his face.
Reaching the car, he put a foot against the crumpled back door and grabbed the front door. Ripped metal tore through the skin on his palms, turning his hands a dark red. With a roar, he pulled on the door lifting his body off the ground as he put every ounce of his weight and all of his strength into removing it. The sound of metal ripping cut through the air shocking all those watching him. His roar intensified as he pulled off the door and then lifted it into the air before throwing it onto the ground.
Once the door was off, he staggered back away from the car and collapsed on the ground as his strength drained from him.
The stunned silence was broken when a fireman said, “F•©k me!”
Another fireman said, “I’ll cancel the call for the jaws of life.”
Resting on the ground with his knees in the air and crossed arms on the knees, Jerry leaned forward to rest his head upon his arms in a picture of complete exhaustion. Closing his eyes, he breathed heavily trying to recharge his body. A weak trickle of blood dripped from his hands onto his pants.
One of the ambulance personnel came over and knelt next to him. Tapping him on the shoulder, the man said, “Let me take a look at your hands.”
Jerry held out his hands, flexing his fingers, for the paramedic to examine his palms. There were several cuts in the fleshy part of his palm, most of them were insignificant although one cut had sliced a small vein. Jerry said, “Give me a minute to catch my breath.”
The paramedic said, “It will require a few stitches to fix the bleeding. We’ll give you a ride in the ambulance.”
Jerry shook his head and said, “I’ll drive my truck. I still need to talk to a policeman since I witnessed the whole thing.”
“You weren’t involved?”
“No, I wasn’t,” answered Jerry as he looked back towards his truck wondering if he was going to have a chance to drop it off to be painted today.
“You sure looked angry at the woman in the car,” replied the man as he recalled the expression on the face of Jerry as he marched towards the car just a few minutes ago.
“Had to get angry to get the door off the car,” replied Jerry as he dropped his head forward again. He could feel his strength returning slowly but surely and he felt a strong desire to drink a glass of orange juice.
One of the policemen came over to take his statement while the paramedic wrapped the hand to last until he made it to a doctor. It was a relatively short story and Jerry was finished telling it by the time the paramedic told him that he was done working on the wounds.
Jerry left the area to head to the hospital, but stopped at a corner clinic when he realized he could get the stitches there. It would be a lot faster than driving all the way to the hospital and waiting for others that were in more desperate shape than himself. It only took thirty minutes to get his hand cared for by the doctor at the clinic.
Leaving the clinic, Jerry checked his watch and saw that it was almost eleven in the morning. He had planned to purchase the scooter by this time. His little scenic drive had ended up costing him two hours. There was no sense complaining about it, so he headed directly to the Honda shop.
The salesman remembered him from his first visit to the place. It didn’t take long for him to pick out a new blue scooter for his son. This time, Jerry wrote a check to pay for it rather than take out a loan. He was still making payments on the first scooter and only had three more months to go before the loan was paid off.
After loading the scooter into the back of the truck, Jerry called Martin. When the young man answered, Jerry said, “Hey, Martin. I’m heading to the house now. I need to change clothes and then we can get your Caddy from the auto detailing shop.”
Irritated at the delay in picking up the car, Martin answered, “I’ve been waiting here for two hours. I was beginning to think that you had forgotten me.”
Jerry said, “I’ll explain when I get there.”
The drive back to the house didn’t take long and Martin was waiting in the front yard for him holding the brand new license plates. Jerry could understand the young man’s impatience. The restoration of the Caddy was finished and he hadn’t seen it since they had put it in the paint shop. After the painting, it had been towed to an auto detailing shop to get the interior redone. They had installed new carpets on the floor, new seat covers, and new roof liner. They were also supposed to repaint the interior and replace the dashboard.
Pulling up to the curb, Jerry got out of the car. Martin let loose a loud whistle when he saw the bandages on Jerry’s hands and the blood on his pants. He asked, “What in the hell happened to you?”
Picking up the scooter from the back of the truck, Jerry grunted, “There was an accident and they needed the door taken off of a car.”
As Jerry sat the scooter on the ground, Martin asked, “And so you pulled the door off?”
Pushing the scooter to the house, Jerry answered, “Yeah.”
Shaking his head in disbelief, Martin followed his neighbor up to the door of his house, giving him a hand in lifting the scooter onto the porch. After watching how easily Jerry lifted the scooter, Martin could believe that he’d rip the door off a car. Martin asked, “So did that save someone?”
“I don’t know. They were waiting for the jaws of life,” replied Jerry. He didn’t know if his actions had helped or not. He hadn’t even thought to ask the paramedic about it.
Pushing the bike into the center of the living room, Jerry looked around deciding that he would leave it there for Bill to discover when they came home that night. Martin looked over the scooter and said, “Nice. He’s going to like it.”
Jerry went into his bedroom and, as he changed clothes, replied, “Yeah. I hope he likes it. I know he hasn’t said anything, but he thinks that I’m angry with him for losing the first scooter. Hard for him to realize that I was happier that he got away from his mother who would have killed him. I think that scooter probably saved his life and the fact that he lost it doesn’t matter a bit.”
Martin called back, “Well, he’ll enjoy riding it around here. You do realize that we’ll never see him and Abe again.”
Jerry laughed as he pulled on a clean pair of pants. He called, “I’m not worried about that. I think the two boys get along just fine and help keep each other out of trouble.”
“Are you kidding?”
Jerry’s laughter filled the room as he buttoned his shirt. “Okay, so the cast kept them out of trouble.”
He slipped on his shoes and left the bedroom. Smiling at Martin, he asked, “Are you ready to see your car?”
“I’ve been ready to see the car since the first day that we started working on it,” replied Martin. There had been delays as they had searched for a new dashboard. The plating company had waited for replacement knobs. He could only imagine how the car looked.
“Let’s get out of here,” said Jerry as he opened the door.
The drive over to the auto detailing shop seemed to go by fast for Jerry and slow to Martin. When they pulled into the parking lot, Martin practically jumped out of the truck before it was stopped to find the Caddy. Jerry watched with amusement as Martin walked past the Caddy not recognizing the car. Jerry walked around the Caddy examining the paint job and looking inside at the detailing. The car looked like it had just been driven off the showroom floor.
Martin asked, “Where is it?”
Jerry said, “Here.”
“Damn! That’s f•©king incredible,” replied Martin as he looked over the car. When he had last seen it, the paint was flaking, the roof fabric was torn and weathered, and the interior was rotten. Looking up at Jerry, he said, “Is this really the same car that used to be parked in front of our house?”
“Yes, it is,” answered Jerry seeing the pride at a job well done filling Martin. The young man stood up straighter as he walked around the car.
Martin opened the car door and looked at the interior. Everything was clean and polished, sparkling as if it were new. His eyes watered at the thought that he had brought this about. Looking over at Jerry, he said, “Let’s pay and get out of here.”
“Sure,” replied Jerry. He went to the truck and picked up the license plates. He had forgotten to bring a screwdriver to attach them and hoped that they could do that for him.
The pair went inside and talked to the man that had done the work on the interior of the car. Harold had re-upholstered the seats and was waiting for them inside the office. Standing up with a smile, he said, “Well, what do you think of it?”
“It’s better than I ever could have imagined,” answered Martin still looking out the window at the car.
The man noticed the license plates that Martin held in his hands and said, “Let me have one of the guys in the back put those on your car.”
Handing over the license plates, Martin turned to Jerry and said, “My momma is going to be so proud to see that car.”
“Yes, she will.”
Martin looked down at the bill and said, “It’s not as much as I thought it would be.”
“It adds up though,” replied Jerry. Martin had already written several checks to pay for the parts, paint job, and chrome plating.
Looking back out at the car, Martin replied, “It was worth every penny.”
Harold returned and Martin proceeded to pay for the work performed. Jerry walked around the office at the pictures on the wall of some of the cars that had been restored in the past. He noticed that the Caddy appeared in one of the pictures and smiled knowing they had done a first class job on it. He turned when the man said, “I had a customer in that was willing to pay twenty-five thousand for your car.”
The amount was a lot higher than Jerry had expected. Martin asked, “Twenty-five thousand?”
“Yep, I thought that was a pretty good price,” replied Harold with a smile.
Having driven the car to the hospital, Martin knew that the car was impractical for modern size parking spaces. He answered, “I’ll have to think about it for a couple of days.”
“There’s no need to hurry. This coming Sunday, there’s an antique car show in front of City Hall. You might take it up there and see what kind of offers you get.”
Martin thought about the chance to show off the car to an appreciative audience and nodded his head. Looking over at Jerry, he said, “I just might do that.”
Martin followed Jerry to the auto paint shop enjoying driving the Caddy. He felt ten feet tall as he maneuvered the car through the streets. People pointed at the car, surprised to see the classic car moving through the traffic dwarfing the other cars around it.
Jerry pulled into a parking spot in front of the shop. The owner, a guy by the name of Eddie, came out and looked over the truck. Shaking his head, he said, “Nice job on the bodywork.”
“Thanks,” replied Jerry as he patted the truck on the hood.
Eddie walked around the truck examining it carefully. After his first circuit around the vehicle, he said, “Nice. The bed needs to be replaced, but that won’t be too difficult. The metal strips will have to be painted. A good finish on the wood would really make the exterior shine. I’ve got a guy that can replace the bed. He’ll stain the wood and seal it real good. Would you like me to have him do that?”