From A. Bates, “Party Line”

From A. Bates, “Party Line” July 12, 2015

(yes, I am reading a Point Horror ’80s paperback about a 976 teen talk line. My summer is going great)

Robbie started over to the Chevy and Mark, relieved, climbed into the Jeep. He’d been hoping for a four-wheel drive for his mother to get to work in the winter, but hadn’t figured he had much chance of finding one in their price range. But if there was any hope of getting either of these cars, he wanted the Jeep.

It smelled musty inside, reeking of old oil, mouse droppings and dust. The seats were cracked and foam rubber showed through. There wasn’t much else to see. The dash and glove box and all the knobs and switches were in their proper places. He decided the car seemed friendly, though sleepy and unaware. He knew he could wake it up. He knew it would rather be used than sleep out its useful years in an old garage.

He climbed out and opened the hood. He wiggled the hoses and tugged on the belts, opened the radiator and stuck his finger inside, pulled off the distributor cap, then took a look at the wiring, the coil, the starter and the fuel pump.

He looked at the oil stains on the dirt floor of the garage. Without starting the car there wasn’t much else he could check. …

“I’ve had half a dozen people look at these,” Brindle said. “The first thing they all wanted to do was fire them up, even though I told them they’d been sitting a long time.”

Robbie shuddered. “You didn’t let them, did you?” he asked.

“Nope, I didn’t. I may be an old man, but I know a few things. And one thing I know is a man’s gotta respect what a thing’s built to do, what its purpose is. ”

Brindle looked at them slyly. “What I’m saying is, I liked the way you boys respected these cars. You didn’t talk about souping them up and wonder how fast they’ll go. I liked what you checked and how you checked it. I liked the questions you asked and what you didn’t ask. I’m willing to take a chance on you if you’re willing to take a chance on me and these cars.”

I’m honestly enjoying this book a lot–I came in with mega-low expectations and, as always, low expectations are the path to happiness. But I’m especially loving the “on this edition of ‘Car Talk, With Wendell Berry'” stuff about car repair. This scene is only the beginning! The descriptions of car-things I do not even begin to understand are so tender, so much in love with the physical being of cars and the hard work of the people who care for them. …Also there’s a serial killer stalking girls on a teen talk line, we’ll probably hear more about him before the book ends. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TRANSMISSION RESEAL?!

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