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.”

12 comments:

  1. Bahahaha!!! Love it! Well told, sir.

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  2. I love that story, it made me splutter with laughs!

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  3. Thank you . Glad you enjoyed it. Maybe I'll try again some time.

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  4. I'm waiting for the snare drum and cymbal. :)

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    1. I saw a gif for that one time. I should find it again

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  5. How's your health these days? And any sign of spring yet?

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    1. Much better and yes, days are around 0C and nights -13C. Lovely days with sun and not much wind. Snow thawing around the edges. I need to get back blogging again.

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    2. That's good news that you are feeling better. The trick now is not to feel so much better that you overdo it and knock yourself backwards.
      No spring evident here today, windy, cold and horizontal snowflakes.

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