"Aaa-low? Lous. Whatchagot?"
"Whats it doin? Doin it all the time?"
"Uh, huh, can you bring it in here?"
"No, I cant get to it till Thursday."
"Up to you. Well, sounds to me like a clogged oil pump."
"Cant say. Bring it in here and Ill give it a listen. Okay. So long.
"Damn people wanting me to doctor their car over the telephone. Be holding their
silly cellphones up to the engine next. Shit, I aint one of them Car Guys, for
chrissake. Been doin this for more an forty years is all, and it never changes.
People want all they can get for the least amount. And they want it done yesterday.
Damn.... Could use the business though.
"Son, this here garage been reduced to mostly oil changes and fixing flats...all
account of them computer wired engines. When I can get my money out a this place, Im
retiring, goin fishin Monday through Friday, leave the weekends for the
idiots. Sit on my front porch with my new granddaughter telling stories and picking steak
outta my teeth. Okay, maybe chicken. I dont care."
"You remember I lost my pumps last year to the State. People dont realize
them tank regs was engineered by the Big Boys BP and Marathon, the whole bunch
wantin company owned stores, run us little guys out of business that way.
Thats why I picked up the Quick-Lube. But hey, you know all that. I been telling you
"Hey, I dont blame you, son. I never wanted you to do what I done all my
life. Thats why we sent you to college."
"Hold on.... Aaa-low! Lous. Whatchagot?"
"Yeah. You the guy I was just talking to?"
"Ballpark? Well, you understand without hearing it, Im just guessin,
but Id say two hundred for parts, maybe another hundred for labor."
"Well, then take it to Sears, if they can beat that. I cant. You know I
aint even seen or heard the damn thing yet."
"No, I aint swearing at you. No, sir. I just cant do this over the
"Okay. Okay. You bring her in tomorrow. Ill get right on it. Yeah, well, so
"Course he dont know, once he brings it in here, its mine. He
aint getting it back till Im damn good and ready. This is the way it goes
here, the way things come around. What am I gonna do? Im fighting over bones."
"Yeah, I hear you. Them big universities cant give a raise, huh? Shit,
its hard all over. You know, all my life I tell myself, dont make trouble.
Theres always gonna be mess. Dont add to it. Only lately the trouble comes
every day. And, shit, I know its all tied to money and pride. And then I tell
myself, it shouldnt be this wayat my ageI sayat my age. And where
does that get me, thinking that? Rose, she lets me talk like this, then she says,
Lou, you know better than me, things is always going to fall apart. We all got to
live with that. And shes right, your mother. I helped teach her that. Hell, we
learned it together. You mind me talking like this?"
"Well, youre my boy, and I dont know whats going on between you
and your wife. I just feel I can tell you this, between you and me, you know. When we was
first married, she was as innocent as a bride. And her heart was a virgin too. She used to
pack little notes into my lunch pail, and Id open them at work and smile. Hell,
sometimes Id blush. I was a millwright then at Wheeling-Pitt. We was doing pretty
good, your mom and me, but only enough to survive. You know, back then, that was all that
"What happens to that I dont know. Soon enough someone starts looking
around, seeing what others has got and you have not. They start taking in the eyes and
building their little walls. Pretty soon, I started working two jobsthats how
I got into running this station. Did I ever tell you about that? You come along, and one
day I heard old Orin he was selling this garage, so we took a double mortgage and I laid a
down payment on this place. How old are you, thirty?
"Well, its thirty years ago then. You know, son, I wanted it and I
didnt. It went along good for a month, and then it didnt. I couldnt run
it all from the mill, and well, it was our first big mess. Things come falling apart, and
one night in bed, while she was nursing you, I says to her back, Rose, listen. I
cant do both jobs no more. I gotta quit the mill to run the garage, or well
lose both. It wasnt easy talkin to her like that, hurtin her with
the hard cold facts. It broke my heart too, son. You understand how a woman takes things
in like that. I lay there hearing her little crying that night and had to go out to the
couch. First time since we was married. I wasnt mad, just sad about it all. And in
the morning, there she was fixin me a breakfast of bacon and eggs, which we thought
was good for you to eat, back then. And there was Rose leaning on the sink in her robe,
and she says, You call in sick, Hon, and well go down and talk to the
bank. Like that, she turned over a leaf, and we moved onto what was next."
"Right. Well, thats a part of all this. See, you work in a garage and what
you do is fix whats broken, the mess of others. Hell, I did mufflers in here for ten
years, if that aint a messall rusted and the bolts bustin off sos
you have to drill em out. Someone elses problem, but you cant think of it like
that, you got to take it on as your own. Fix whats there with what you got. You
know? Sure you do."
"Yeah, well I could tell you two arent gettin along. Sure, thats
why Im telling you some of this. See, I like Helen, I do, and you got the sweetest
little girl in Jennie."
"Yeah, I know you know that. Let me finish, though. See, for us, it was always
like thatwed get into a mess, talk some, go away, then come back and keep
things goin again. Its what we done, have to get by facing it. And listen, I
love that woman more for what she become than what she ever was. Heres one more
thing and Ill shut up. I learned from working on cars to deal with the now. You know
all that shit customers want to tell you about last week and what they think is wrong. You
cant listen to that. Listen to the car. You need to know how its been
actin that day, seeno further back. And never, I mean never try to predict
the future. People will ask you thatHow longll it run?
theyll ask. I never answer them. Itll run till it stops."
"Regrets? They get you nowhererunning on empty. You can do more with anger
or love in your tank. They make you move. Know what I mean? They take you along."
"I know its not easy. Believe me I know. Only sometimes you bite back the
snake that bit you, and sometimes you catch it and let it loose in the yard. You gotta
know which works now.
"Yeah, well, hey, its good to talk like this, but I got three more lube jobs
coming in here. Why dont you go down at Martellos and pick up some good
Italian sausage. Ask you mom to make some sauce for dinner. You go talk to your wife. Tell
your mom, Ill be home around six."