Emend by Eclipse
Chapter 15

Copyright© 2020 by Lazlo Zalezac

May 27, 1975

There was a bit of chill in the air that morning. The four young people were all wearing jackets to keep warm. The mayor was going along organizing the participants in the parade. They had the fire department with their fire truck, the EMT squad with their new ambulance, and the police department riding front and back. Sandwiched in there were the scouts, cub and boy scouts and brownie and girl scouts. The high school band was there despite the fact that school had ended the previous Friday.

There were two other antique cars in the parade besides their truck. One was a nice 1947 Chevy Fleetmaster two door. It was painted a solid black that showed off the chrome. There was a lot of chrome on the front. The whole car was polished to a high sheen, but the chrome on the front was truly eye catching.

The other car was a 1921 Ford Model T touring car. Like the other car, it was painted black which made sense since that was the original color. Ford had once said that people could get their car in any color they wanted, so long as it was black. That was true in 1921, but before 1913, Fords had been available in a number of colors. Still, the car here was painted true to its origins. Tim really liked the Model T feeling that it was the classic original car.

Their truck had broken the string of black cars. It was painted red, Vermillion Red, which was one of the original colors Ford had used for this truck. It was bright and eye catching which they felt would draw more attention to the car, particularly when it was time to resell it.

Tim was shocked to discover how low the value of the Model T car was. He had assumed that the older car would be worth far more than anything modern. Bringing its value down was the fact that there were so many of them around. The ‘47 Fleetmaster was actually worth more than the Model T because it was rarer. They were shocked to discover that their truck was actually the most valuable of the three cars.

They had a banner made to ride in rear of the truck. It gave the names of the companies that had contributed to the restoration. This included the junkyard where the owner had helped the scrounge the parts, the paint shop, the machine shop, the carpenter who had prepared the boards for the bed, and the upholstery shop who had done the seats.

The mayor came over to the car to assign it a place in the parade. He looked at the banner and frowned. They didn’t want the parade to turn into an advertising gimmick.

“Hello, Mayor Page.”

“Hello, Tim. Nice looking car.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m glad that you finished it in time for the parade.”

“We’re very happy to have finished it.”

“I’m not sure about that banner. It’s advertising and we have rules against that.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. We just wanted to show our appreciation for all the folks who helped us with this restoration. All the owners of those places are vets. We’ve got vets from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. I know they are here remembering some of their comrades in arms who didn’t survive.

“We’re too young to have served, but we appreciate what they did.”

“Well, okay. Can you write down which war they were in?”

“I can,” Tim said.

While Tim was writing, the mayor stepped back to examine the truck. He peered inside and checked out the finished wood boards in the bed of the truck. He walked around it checking out the paint job and the chrome trim. “You two did a really great job on it.”

“It was a lot of work, but it was labor of love. We’re shocked at how nice it came out.”

“You should be proud of it.”

“We are,” Tim said.

“We’ve got the three antique cars. You’ll be after the scouts and before the new ambulance. I figure we’ll do them by year, so you’ll be in line after the Model T.”

“Excellent.”

The mayor moved on to the next car. Fred Cooley, the owner of the Model T, came over with a smile on his face. He shook Tim’s hand. Fred was also the owner of the paint shop.

“Hey, Tim. I appreciate the advertising. I can’t believe you talked him into letting you go through the parade with the banner.”

“Just thanking the folks that made it possible for us to restore this truck.”

“I’ll tell you something. You two did a great job on that. I’ve seen a lot of folks restore cars and too many of them turn them into hot rods rather than classics. You kept true to the original truck.”

“Thank you. As soon as we saw it, we knew wanted to restore it back to its original glory.”

“I better get back to my car. It’s attracting some attention.”

“I’ll be following you through the parade. Maybe we can talk when it’s over.”

A tall man in a suit approached them. “Hello, Tim. Hello, Benny.”

“Hello, Detective Banks.”

“Hi, Sir.”

“You guys did a great job on that car.”

“Thanks.”

“My dad had one of those. I have real good memories of riding around in it as a kid.”

“We’ve had a couple of people say that to us.”

“Remember, this is truck country. Lots of folks had trucks just like this. Of course they and their children will have good memories of them.”

“That’s a good point.”

“By the way, I was talking to one of the guys on the first aid squad. He was telling me a story about a call they had a couple weeks ago. It seems that the numbers you painted the curb probably saved a guy’s life. Because they could see the numbers, they were able find his house when it was pitch black outside.”

“Hearing that makes me feel real good. It’s makes me feel like I did something worthwhile.”

While Tim talked to Detective Banks, Benny sidled over to where Cathy was standing. He gestured in the direction of Tim. “Isn’t he amazing?”

“Who is he talking to?”

“Detective Banks. According to Tim, he’s next in line to become the Chief of Police.”

“How does he know him?”

“When we were starting the curb painting business, we went to city hall to get permits for door to door solicitation. While we were there, Tim went over to the police department to meet the Chief and let him know that we were going to be walking through neighborhoods. You’d be surprised how many people call the police to report that we are going from door to door. The police know who we are and what we’re doing. It actually gives us a legitimacy with our customers.

“Detective Banks questioned us and he checked us out. I guess he liked what he saw. He and Tim almost always talk when they meet.”

“I’m impressed. Tim appears to know a lot of people.”

“Tim knows everyone at city hall. Whenever our business moves into a new neighborhood, he makes sure to go to city hall and introduce himself. He did that here, the next town over, and the town where our office is. We make sure everything that we do is legal and that the people who might be concerned about us, know exactly what we’re doing.”

“I’m getting to expect that from you two.”

“Don’t worry about your problem. Tim will find the people we need to help you with it.”

“I don’t deserve all the help you’re giving me.”

“You help protect me, so that I can be happy. I want you to be happy.”

“Thank you, Benny.”

“Tim is signaling that we should introduce you to Detective Banks. Let’s go over there.”

Cathy was introduced to a number of leaders in the community as Benny’s girlfriend. It seemed that Benny had a reputation for being smart, but a little eccentric. That was the word people used to describe Benny, eccentric. Some how, the fact that she was keeping company with Tim and Benny seemed to give her standing in the community.

She was talking to the head of the school board about the fact that her PSAT score was the second highest in the school when her mother came charging over. The woman looked angry. There was no real reason for her to be so angry. Cathy had done nothing except leave the house after breakfast.

“Cathy! How dare you talk to strange men like some kind of street trollop!”

“Uh ... Mom.”

“Don’t talk back to your mother!”

“Uh ... Mom.”

“Who are you? What are you doing to my daughter?”

“I’m Al Forbes. I’m on the school board, and I was just congratulating her on her PSAT scores. She had the second highest score in the school.”

“She must have cheated.”

“Excuse me?”

“She must have cheated to get a good score.”

“I was the proctor for that exam. She sat three rows away from where I was seated. She didn’t cheat.”

“Well. I don’t know what to say other than you must have helped her. Did she offer you sex to look the other way?”

“Ma’am, you are insulting my integrity. I suggest you consider your next words carefully.”

Cathy’s mother turned and walked away.

“I apologize for my mother. She’s of the opinion that I’m the daughter of Satan. I’m sure that she didn’t mean what she said to you.”

“There’s no need for you to apologize for her.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“Enough of that. What are your plans for after high school?”

“Benny and Tim have brought me into their company as a general office manager and bookkeeper. I’m finding the work far more fascinating than I had anticipated. I’m hoping after I graduate to get into a business program at Central State University.”

“That is ambitious of you.”

“If you don’t aim for the stars...”

“You’ll never reach the stars,” he said.

“One of the things I’ve learned from Tim and Benny is to go for the gold.”

“Benny is brilliant. I’m sure that you’re well aware that he was the first student in the history of the school to get a perfect score on the PSAT. Tim may not be as smart, but that kid has a boatload of common sense. Common sense is just as rare as brilliance. Together, those two young men are going to go far in life. You’re wise to hitch your wagon to their star.”

“I couldn’t agree more.”

“They’re getting ready to start the parade. I need to get back to the reviewing stand.”

“Enjoy the parade.”

“You, too.”

After Mr. Forbes left, one of the women who had been standing nearby said, “Was that your mother?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve never heard a parent say such nasty things about their own kid.”

“I guess I’m just a big disappointment to her.”

“From what I heard, you’re a good student, smart, and ambitious. I don’t get why she’d be disappointed in you.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been able to please her. There must be something wrong with me,” she said with tears in her eyes.

“I don’t think so. I think there’s something wrong with her.”

“She’s my mother. I just want to be a good daughter.”

The woman patted her on the arm and said, “Don’t worry, dear. Things have a way of working out.”

After the woman left, Tim came over and said, “I see you met Judge Lane’s wife.”

“Judge Lane’s wife?”

“Yes. I sent her over to you when I saw your mother approaching. I told her I was worried about you.”

“That’s kind of sneaky.”

“No, that’s called taking advantage of an opportunity. Now, the parade is about to start and I better rescue Sandra from her uncle so that she can ride with me.”

“I didn’t know he was her uncle.”

“He’s the building inspector for the city.”

“Convenient.”

Smiling, Tim approached Sandra. Reaching her, he held out a hand to the man with whom she was talking. “Mr. Miller. I see you know my girlfriend, Sandra Miller. Hmm, Miller ... Miller. Is she any relation of yours?”

“Quit pretending you don’t know. You know damned well that she’s my niece.”

“Busted. I hope you don’t mind if I steal her away from you. The parade is about to start and I’d love for her to ride in the truck with me.”

“Is that your truck over there?”

“Yes, it is.”

“That’s a beauty. Did you restore it?”

“Yes, I did.”

“I’ll be by after the parade to look at it.”

“I’m looking forward to it,” Tim said.

Benny came back to Cathy. “Tim said we need to stand over there across from the viewing stand. We need to be seen together.”

“Okay. Let’s go.”

“I think we should hold hands. Tim says we have to publicly demonstrate that we are boyfriend and girlfriend. Holding hands would work.”

“I agree.”

They headed over to where they could watch the parade. “How does he do it?”

“Tim explained it to me once. For the first six years in school, he was the class dummy. People were mean to him. They treated him like ... like shit. He learned quickly that getting angry or arguing with them didn’t change their opinions any.

“He figured out that if you want people to be friendly with you, that you have to be friendly with them. He didn’t really know what that meant. At least, not at first. Then one day, he found that it wasn’t about him. It wasn’t about him being interesting, but about him being interested in the other person.

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