Car Repair Fun
Did Melanie say something about flat tires down in the comments part yesterday? That reminded me of this. I think it’s from Thereby Hangs A Tail.
What was that? A funny little lurch?
“Uh-oh,” said Bernie. “Did you feel a little – ?” Then came a clunk, and another clunk, followed by a whole bunch of them, plus more lurching. The Porsche went all jerky, kind of stumbling to the side of the road like a human who’d had way too many.
We sat there, the engine going pop-pop, pop-pop. The bike grew smaller and smaller and finally vanished. It got very quiet, except for the pop-pop. Bernie’s hand curled into a fist; he had big strong fists and plenty of perps, gangbangers and bad guys had seen what they could do. He raised his fist as though to punch the steering wheel, something I’d seen guys – good and bad ones – do plenty of times; but then Bernie paused, his hand relaxing, and no punch came. That was one of the very best things about Bernie.
Out came the tools, and not long after that the manual, too. Nothing good ever happened when Bernie had his head deep in the engine. The wind fluttered the pages of the open manual, Bernie trying to still them with an oil-stained elbow, a tool in each hand. After a while, I couldn’t bear to watch, and took a little – what was Bernie’s word? – recon, that was it. I took a recon around the area, smelled the scent – froggy, toady, fishy – of a snake, but very faint. I followed the scent, lost it, circled around and picked it up again, and there, in the shadow of a big rock, I found – what? I wasn’t sure; some kind of strange snake, very pale, with no eyes at all, just nasty holes where eyes should have been.
“Chet! What the hell’s going on?”
I realized I was barking my head off and stopped. But then I caught sight of that eyeless head again, and maybe more barking started up. “Chet? What is it?” Bernie’s voice changed, stopped being irritated, not that he ever got irritated with me. “Find something?” He came over, saw the snake and laughed. Then – oh, no – before I could stop him, he reached down and picked it up. Snakes bite! Didn’t Bernie know about those fangs?
But this snake didn’t bite, just dangled in a limp sort of way from Bernie’s hand. “Only a skin, Chet,” he said. “Nothing to be afraid of – the snake got too big and shed it, that’s all.” For some reason I thought that was plenty to be afraid of, and hurried back to the car. I even considered lying underneath it, but then I heard something dripping from the engine.
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