Jesse's Girl - Cover

Jesse's Girl

Copyright© 2022 by Dyspneic


Jesse Latoure stood 6’3” and weighed 197 pounds. He had unruly brown hair that fell to his shoulders and light blue (almost gray) eyes. He looked quite young for his 18 years and had the physique of an athlete, even though he never participated in any high school sports. He got his height and build from his father Freddy and his quiet introspective nature from his mother, Linda. He was born and raised in Stockton, California and developed an aptitude and affinity for all things mechanical or automotive—by hanging out with his Grandpa Vincent at his wrecking yard.

His father Freddy was a troubled man who led a violent and dysfunctional life which eventually put him on the wrong side of the law. He was now serving life at the California State Prison in Sacramento for aggravated assault, extortion, racketeering and grand theft. Incarcerated when Jesse was only 7, his mother Linda eventually won a divorce on the grounds of abandonment.

Rebounding carelessly, she wound up pregnant (with TM) and married to a man who literally abandoned her in the night. Linda, wracked by depression and self-loathing became a near empty shell of her former self and was treated (read medicated) into near oblivion, for whatever ailment du jour her providers dreamed up. Their latest contrived diagnosis was fibromyalgia, for which they effectively drugged her into the stone age.

Because of his uncanny intellect he found school to be academically unchallenging and many of his Advanced Prep teachers mistook his boredom for a bad attitude. His counselors tried to reign in his callous outlook and encourage him to pursue academic scholarships, but with no father figure and a single mother who was detached at best, he chose to pursue other interests. He avoided the social norms not because he was a rebel or degenerate—he was simply driven by interests other than popular acceptance, academic excellence, or trendy fellowship. It was not due to ambition that he achieved highest marks, but rather the curse of an eidetic (near photographic) memory. Jesse immersed himself in more vocational pursuits like autobody, small engine repair, wood shop and computer labs.

He lived with his mother and 11-year-old half-sister Tina Marie, or TM for short. Their home in the suburbs was a single level unit with three bedrooms, single car garage and a detached shop that Jesse essentially lived in. With plumbed-in water and a toilet, he converted the back of the shop into a cozy little apartment that served his needs well.

His uncle Frank took over the huge wrecking yard outside of town, when Jesse’s grandfather retired and moved to Sacramento. Grandpa Latoure wasn’t wealthy in a grand sense but was well off enough that he set aside a trust fund for Jesse that would become available to him when he turned 21—provided he graduated high school and met other certain requirements. A stipend was provided to his mom on a monthly basis to help with his upkeep. Not that his needs were great. Food and clothes were essentially all he required aside from his ‘rent’, that the stipend more than paid for. He also took care of all the home and yard maintenance for the family and made every attempt to help his sister with school, transportation and after school activities when her mom was unable to help, because of her failing health.

Free of financial obligations, he was able earn and keep what money he could. With standing agreements for maintaining many of the yards in his neighborhood and the occasional repair job he could land, Jesse was able to steadily save funds, which he kept stashed away for immediate access. As a gifted airbrush artist, he was often called upon to decorate the odd motorcycle tank or provide auto pinstriping. He had over $1500 saved up but if he could complete the hood from the ‘78 Trans AM that currently leaned against the wall of his shop, he stood to triple that.

Fortune smiled on him last January, prior to his graduation, during one of his frequent ventures to the wrecking yard. Several times a week he made the journey just to spend hours hanging out with Uncle Frank and his two employees. Juan Ramirez and his son Xavier had worked at the yard since his grandfather had started it up with just a single tow truck and a 5-acre plot. That was over 40 years ago, and the yard had grown since to over 30 acres and a fleet of tow trucks that handled any vehicle that drove the highways, from smart cars to semis. Jesse spent many hours, days, and weeks, crawling through the thousands of wrecks, helping retrieve parts, inventory, and part out the cars, trucks, motorcycles and even the occasional aircraft. He had long since memorized every vehicle and could recall any model by location or type instantly, making him an asset to the family business. With every visit he would quickly recognize any new additions and scour them for pertinent items of interest before filing them away in his memory.

It was during one of these visits when he stumbled across the old rusted out carcass of a motorcycle. Beside it was a detached but matching side car. He recognized it as a very old Norton, and he felt his throat tighten with anticipation as he checked out the bike and pile of old parts that lay about it or were piled haphazardly into the chassis of the side car. It took him but a few heartbeats to recognize he was in love at first sight and absolutely had to have it. Rushing to the office he burst in gasping for breath, “when did that old Norton come in?”

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