Thunder and Lightening
Chapter 20

Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac

Sunday morning Jerry drove to City Hall with Bill and Jenny in the car. Restored cars lined the road on the side of the street on which the City Hall stood. The street was closed to allow people to walk around and look at the cars. It was hard to see the cars because of the crowds of people surrounding them.

“Lots of people here,” said Jerry looking down the street. This was his first time to come to one of these events and he was rather impressed with the turnout.

An officer stopped him and asked, “Are you showing this car?”

“It’s not done yet,” replied Jerry confused by the question. “We’re here to look at the other cars.”

“Okay, then you need to turn right and find a spot to park.”

Jerry followed the officer’s directions and it was a couple of blocks later that he found a spot where he could park the Camaro. Pulling in, he said, “I’m sorry. It looks like we have a bit of a walk ahead of us.”

From the back seat, Bill said, “We can always go back and show off this car.”

As Jenny frowned at the idea, Jerry laughed and said, “Not yet. I don’t want to show it off until after it is finished.”

He got out of the car and held the door open for Jenny. She exited and got out of the way as Bill climbed out of the back. Shutting the door, Jerry put an arm around Jenny. With a smile, he said, “Let’s go find the old truck and see what kind of attention Martin’s car is getting.”

The three of them walked up the street. Jenny occasionally bumped her hip against Jerry’s hip just to remind him that she was there. Bill moved ahead and then waited for them to catch up. He was excited and wondered how he was going to find his friends in the middle of the crowd of people up ahead.

When they reached the street, they found a booth set up in front of the steps of City Hall with a number of trophies. Stopping to look at the trophies, Jenny asked, “What’s with the trophies?”

“I have no idea,” answered Jerry looking around to see if he could spot anyone. A woman came over to the booth and took a seat behind the table. Jerry asked, “What’s with the trophies?”

“The cars are going to be judged around noon. We’ll hand out trophies for the best cars being shown here.”

Bill looked at his father and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you or Martin got a trophy?”

Jerry laughed at the idea and said, “That would be nice, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

The three of them continued on down the walk, checking out some of the cars. There were a couple of early model T Fords. One of them really shined and outclassed all of the others there. Jerry bent down and asked Bill, “Do you want to fix up one of those?”

“No way. They’re too slow,” replied Bill. He appreciated the look, but it wasn’t a practical car.

They went down the street looking at the vintage cars parked along the road. Jenny found it fascinating that people took such care to restore these cars. Occasionally, one of the owners would tell a story about the car. The stories ranged from the history of its manufacture, tales of the owners, and the work that was performed to restore it. Most of them had a series of photographs that showed the car through various phases of restoration.

After leaving one of the more talkative owners, Jenny said, “I had no idea about this whole culture of people that love these old cars.”

Laughing, Jerry said, “Have you seen any that you would love to own?”

“Several,” replied Jenny with a smile.

There was a large crowd around one of the cars and Jerry pointed over to it. “Let’s check that one out.”

“Must be pretty nice considering all of the people around it,” remarked Jenny. She had already noticed that the nicer cars had larger crowds of people around them.

They made their way over and found Martin in the middle of the crowd. He spotted them and shouted, “Hey! Come on over here.”

Together, the three of them made their way through the crowd and found Martin’s Caddy at the center of attention. Jenny couldn’t believe how sharp the car looked. In the morning light, the Caddy looked even better than that evening when she had first seen it. Jerry said, “Looks like the Caddy is a hit.”

“Sure is,” replied Martin. He looked around at all the people and said, “I can’t believe how many people are checking out that car. Makes me wish I had taken a picture of it before we started working on it.”

Jenny snuggled against her boyfriend and said, “That’s a sharp looking car. After seeing it, I can understand why they compare all of the best things to the Cadillac.”

Hugging her back to let her know that he was thinking of her, Jerry asked, “Where’s Abe?”

Pointing over to a tent, Martin answered, “He’s over there getting something to eat.”

“Great. I can’t wait to introduce him to my friends from school,” replied Bill. Turning to his father, he asked, “Can I get Abe and look for my friends?”

Jerry checked his watch and saw that it was ten thirty. Nodding his head, he answered, “I’ll meet you here at noon.”

“Great,” replied Bill as he slipped through the crowd in search of people his own age. Jenny laughed at his excitement as she watched him leave.

Jerry and Jenny talked with Martin for a little while and then headed out to find Jerry’s truck. An old time rock and roll band was setting up and the sign said that music was to begin at eleven. Knowing how all women loved to dance, Jerry said, “Maybe we can come back and dance a little to the oldies.”

“You dance?” she asked surprised by the suggestion.

Laughing at her surprise, he answered, “Not really, but I can try to flail around like everyone else.”

She giggled at the image that his comment invoked in her mind. She replied, “I hope they play the twist. Everyone can dance to that.”

Feeling happy, he picked her up in his hands and swung around holding her out at arm’s length. The ease with which he did that took her breath away. More than that, it made her wet between the legs. When he set her down, she threw herself into his arms and said, “I love it when you do things like that.”

He hugged her having no idea what effect his action had on her and said, “Let’s find my truck.”

They walked down the center of the street passing by a number of cars that were clearly not theirs. There was another Ford F-100, but it was a different year and looked rather plain. Jenny stopped and asked, “Is this yours?”

“No, wrong year,” replied Jerry.

“I hope yours looks better than that one,” she commented. It really was rather plain and didn’t seem to be much of an improvement over the truck before it been painted.

They continued up the street and started to walk past a rather large crowd gathered around a car, not intending to look at it. Jerry said, “I don’t think a pick up truck would attract that kind of crowd.”

He stopped when he heard someone calling out his name. Turning around, he didn’t see who it was. Pointing over to the crowd, Jenny said, “There’s some guy over there waving at you.”

He looked in the direction that she was pointing and saw Eddie waving to him. He said, “That’s Eddie. He’s the guy that I hired to do the paint job on the truck.”

They went over as Eddie was shouting, “Everyone clear a path here! Out of the way.”

As the crowd parted before the yells of Eddie, the pickup truck came into view. Jerry stopped as he looked at his truck. Jenny put a hand over her mouth to cover it as she stared incredulously at the truck.

The body had been turned into a canvas, with storm clouds threatening rain upon the ground below. It was a dark picture with subtle shades of black, deep blue and dark purple defining the clouds. The bottom of the clouds glowed as lightning lit them. Looking at it, you could almost hear the low rumble of the thunder generated by the storm. Ground level was portrayed with dark on dark giving hints of trees bent in the wind, rough waters on a lake, and grass blown flat in an open field. The effect was three-dimensional, making it appear that the clouds extended into the truck. It was magical.

Jerry slowly walked around the truck, taking in the details of the paint job. Across the rear of the truck was the word, “Thunder.” Beneath that were the signatures, in a deep red, identifying Jerry Smith as the restorer, the paint shop, the metal plating shop, and the auto detailing company.

He reached the open door and took in the interior of the truck. It was gorgeous with a soft gray seat cover. He ran his hand over the fabric amazed at the texture. He looked in the back at the truck bed. The wood had a brilliant sheen.

“It’s gorgeous,” said Jenny, still nestled in his arm, as she stared in awe at the transformation. Before, she had been embarrassed to be seen in the patchwork truck because it looked bad. Now, she would be embarrassed because the truck would be the center of attention every where they went.

Almost afraid to touch it, Jerry whispered, “Thunder, you are great.”

Eddie had walked around the truck following behind them watching the reaction of his client with a grin. For years he had wanted to paint that particular scene and the opportunity to do it had been too hard to resist. It pleased him to know that his creative vision was appreciated.

Jerry turned around and extended a hand to Eddie as he said, “That’s an amazing job you did. You captured the spirit of Thunder beyond anything that I could have imagined.”

“I’m glad you like it.”

“Like it? I love it,” replied Jerry. The truck had been his therapy to rebuild himself. Seeing the truck in such excellent condition made him wonder if he hadn’t improved to the same degree. He hugged Jenny closer overcome with emotion.

Smiling, Eddie asked, “Would you like to watch the car while I go get some more business cards? I’m almost out of them already.”

“Sure,” replied Jerry. Almost immediately he was besieged with questions about the restoration. Handing out cards of the businesses that had done the final work, he did his best to answer their questions.

Jenny went over to the tent and bought some soft drinks for them to sip while talking to the crowd. She couldn’t believe the interest surrounding the truck and regretted her previous disdain for it. While she was returning to the truck, she ran into Bill and his friends. She waved them down and called, “Bill! Come over here.”

The kids gathered around her, a little irritated at having their explorations interrupted. She recognized the impatience of youth and decided to keep it brief. Pointing over at the large crowd, she said, “Your dad’s truck is over there. You might want to check it out.”

Bill looked over in the direction that she had pointed and said, “Sure. We’ll be there shortly.”

Enjoying herself, she leaned down and, giving him a wink, said, “It’s a real chick magnet.”

Blushing, Bill listened to his friends tease him about how he needed every advantage that he could get to attract girls. He replied, “We’ll be over there soon.”

She smiled and walked back to the truck. For the next hour, she sipped her coke and answered questions about the truck. It amazed her that she was in the middle of a car show. The variety of people that stopped by was tremendous. Old couples recalling the cars of their youth, middle aged couples longing for the distinctive styles of the past, and young kids interested in cars came stopped and looked at the truck. The questions people asked her were wide ranging and varied.

It was just a little before noon when the kids showed up to see the truck. The reaction among them was one of stunned silence. They had all seen the truck the previous week when Jerry had dropped off Bill before school. None of them could believe the transformation. Abe was stunned, finding that all he could do was stare at the car. He recalled his earlier words that the truck should be shot and put out of its misery. He went over to Jerry and nudged him. In a voice that admitted a change a heart, he asked, “Can I borrow the truck for my prom?”

Jerry, laughing, answered, “Wait until you finish your car.”

“That’s way too much work,” replied Abe with a smile. Winking, he said, “You know me, I’m lazy. I’m thinking about a career in the porn business.”

“Nobody would pay to see that skinny ass of yours,” replied Jerry in a teasing tone of voice.

Abe looked over at the truck and said, “It’s really sharp looking. Jenny was right. It is a babe magnet.”

Jerry looked over at Jenny with a smile. He had found her without a babe magnet and that felt good. Their discussion was interrupted by the arrival of Helen and her cameraman. Woody had gone and brought them over to see the truck. Jerry turned around and said, “Hello, Helen. Nice to see you.”

Smiling at him, she replied, “Hello, Jerry. Woody was telling me that this was your truck.”

“Yeah,” replied Jerry.

“We’re taping some of the nicer cars here. Would you mind if we film your truck?”

Jerry had forgotten that she was working. The reminder of the fact made him uncomfortable, as it would be the second time that his privacy was intruded upon by the press. Pride in his car forced him to answer, “Sure. Go ahead.”

He watched as the cameraman struggled to film the car in a fashion that showed it in its full glory. As the man worked, Helen said, “I really appreciate the interview you gave me earlier this week. I’m afraid that as a working mother, I seldom get an exclusive interview. Usually, I’m covering flower shows, boat shows, or events at the zoo.”

The past week had been strange, as he was recognized just about everywhere he went. He didn’t like the attention, feeling that he hadn’t deserved it. At least the attention was positive for a change and, all in all, the attention hadn’t been that bad. Shrugging, he said, “I hope it helped your career.”

“It did,” replied Helen with a smile. She added, “You are a rather remarkable man. I look at the truck and can’t believe that anyone could do something like that. You rescue someone and don’t get a swelled head. I can tell you are a great father and, based on the looks that your girlfriend gives you, I’d say that you are a pretty good boyfriend.”

Jerry grunted and said nothing about her assessment. He didn’t see it the same way. There was a still a rage within that could break loose and wreak havoc. The episode with the car had been a case where he had been able to call upon it in a positive manner, but that was an exception.

Jenny replied for him. “He doesn’t trust himself with his strength.”

“You don’t say,” replied Helen as she looked at Jerry while speculating what that meant. She decided that the large man was much more complex than she had initially considered.

Eddie returned with a large stack of business cards and looked at the cameraman taking pictures of the car. With a grin, he stepped over to Jerry and said, “Consider the paint job free. This kind of publicity would have cost me a fortune.”

“Thanks. I’ll be bringing Lightning over to be painted tomorrow.”

A surprised look crossed Eddie’s face as he asked, “Lightning? What kind of car is it?”

“A Camaro,” answered Jerry.

“Sweeeet!” Eddie was already picturing in his mind what he would do with the Camaro. If the quality of work was the same on it as on the truck, it would be an outstanding restoration. Thunder and Lightning, what a pair of paint jobs that would be.

Looking around, Jerry realized that he had lost track of the kids in all of the excitement. He asked, “Jenny, do you know where the kids are?”

“Yeah, they followed Abe over to look at a couple of restored motorcycles. Arnie took them over there.”

It took a minute for him to recall that Arnie was Sandy’s father. It was nice to know that other parents were watching out for the kids as well. He replied, “I didn’t see him.”

“He was across the way at the 49 Ford. Sandy said that they would come back after checking out the motorcycles.”

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