First Sentence Fridays – Chapter 9

I grew up surrounded by mechanics. The men in my family worked on cars, trucks, tractors, lawn mowers, you name it, if it had a motor and it needed fixing, they were on it. Their heads were always stuck up under the hood, or they were on their backs with only their feet showing out from underneath some vehicle. Fingernails carried black grease for most of the day, and smudges of it sometimes rested on their cheeks, or noses. They generally wore white t-shirts, navy blue pants, work boots.

They said things like “She ain’t got no get up and go.”

Or, “that John Brown carburetor’s gunked up again.”

My Dad’s mechanical abilities were outstanding, and he was creative about it too. I’ve always joked with family about him being like McGyver. He could take the ordinary, every day sort of items and make them into something useful. Clearing out his garage after he died revealed the way his mind worked. He was always saying things like, “Aw, well now see? It’s perfectly good, I can use that,” with regard to some item most people would chunk into the trash.

For instance, I found at least a dozen paint “buckets” he’d made, where he took old plastic bleach jugs, cut the narrow spout off, poked a couple holes in them, then shoved a wire through, making a handle.  Every single one of them had pale olive green paint stain – from where he’d painted the house the last time.

Mom said, “The regular paint buckets got too heavy, and he made those so he could get up on the ladder with them.”

I found jar upon jar of strings, rubber bands, bread ties, screws, nuts, bolts, nails, all sizes, lined up on shelves, neatly placed, as if he knew exactly where he might need those things next.  He made a yard aerator.  He took a drum sized plastic container, (like what might have had sheet rock compound in it) and he’d poured it full of concrete, then stuck these short pieces of metal rod he’d cut into the sides, all over in a very specific pattern, and when it dried, voila – yard aerator.  He would pull it behind the lawn mower he’d rebuilt.

Dad always had a car in the garage he was working on. I have the two Corvairs he rebuilt, 1963 Monzas that still run today.

Here’s one of them. (we have Betty Boop floor mats in it 🙂 )

This white one above came to the house as only a shell of a car., i.e. the body only, and he restored it to what you see in the picture.

I remember as a child, if my grandfather, Dad, or my uncles were working on something, there was always the inevitable revving of the engines. I was used to them doing this, but something about the sound always made me anxious, especially when they kept doing it, as they tried to troubleshoot a problem. I thought about this when writing the opening for chapter nine, how sound can affect a scene, create tension simply by interrupting what may have been a peaceful atmosphere. It can create disruption, chaos, fear.

Daniel Lassiter has been Sonny Creech’s friend since they were seven years old. He comes to her house often, always has, and they play and do what kids do. They spend a lot of time in the barn, on a “stage” they’ve made for themselves. They’re in the barn when Mr. Fowler appears in the doorway. Daniel doesn’t see him but Sonny does. Mr. Fowler witnesses something he doesn’t like, and he leaves without a word, but his displeasure is revealed as he revs the engine of his truck.


Chapter 9

I looked at the now vacant opening as the sound of Mr. Fowler’s truck filled the barn.

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