Sunday, February 11, 2018

THE STORYTELLER: OLD BOB AND THE FAN BELT


This is my first attempt at short-story writing. It is based on an anecdote I read in the Readers’ Digest some 60 years ago and found again recently as a poorly written paragraph on a Christian Joke site.  It deserved better. Lying in the hospital with nothing to do, I wrote and rewrote it in my head until I could put it in print.

Old Bob ran the garage at the Junction since the heyday of the Model T. The solitary gas pump was lever-action fill and gravity drain. The garage itself consisted of a bay with a pit, a large room with a counter and a ceiling fan, and a back-storage room. The entire place was littered with new-and-used belts and tires and new-and-used parts.  It smelled of rubber and oil.

The garage attracted other elderly men and on days when it was cooler inside than out, they sat under the fan, around an upended cable spool that doubled as a table and was handily placed near the Coke cooler.  Their philosophical discussions were wide ranging though problems were rarely solved.

Old Bob was a quiet-spoken man who never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything.  One day they were discussing the peccadillos of a local politician when Old Bob said, “I think we should not judge, just be more careful when we vote. He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone”.  He had a bible verse for every occasion.


On this particular day, a shiny Studebaker driven by a man in a shiny suit ground to a halt at the pump.  Both were steaming. Shiny Suit ran into the garage, obviously an important person with important places to be.  Old Bob was identified as the proprietor.

“Hey, you old coot, I don’t expect you have a fan belt for my car in this godforsaken dump?”

Old Bob never said a word, got up, went out and looked at the car, then disappeared into the back room, returning with a belt that seemed to satisfy him. He went outside to the car with Shiny Suit yelling at him to hurry up.

In 15 minutes he was back, went behind the counter and tallied up the bill. “That will be $60,” he said. The village elders held their breath as the amount was three times the normal price. This was not the Old Bob they knew. Shiny Suit exploded in rage and deleted expletives, swore he would not pay it and stormed towards the door.

“Jessie!”

Jessie, a lifeless red pile of hide, paws and ears lying in the sun, suddenly appeared at the door, displaying both life and teeth. Shiny Suit calculated the odds and slapped three $20s on the counter.  Jessie collapsed back in her sunny spot and the shiny Studebaker and Shiny Suit departed down the road.  This time only one of them was steaming.

“Well?” said one of the village elders, wondering how Old Bob would bible-verse his way out of this one.

“He was a stranger, and I took him in.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Checking in again. Briefly

Sorry I have been off line so long.  On Jan 5th hI was taken to Emergency and spent the next 24 days in hospital.  Same problem as July, burst Diverticula and a belly full of infection. I have been home a week and recovering slowly. Dr's appointment on 7th for followup. The operation to remove my sigmoid colon is now delayed until May as I need to be a great deal healthier to withstand it.

Since I have been sick my attention span is measured in nanoseconds so I cant even keep up with all my favourite bloggers. Everything tires me out.

I do some walking indoors as it is too cold to go outside to walk.  Tomorrow I am going to be brave and catch a ride to a mall to walk.

I miss all my regular readers and bloggers.