Trilogy – 02

Writing 101 Assignment 4

Returning to my job on the flight line, I took my assigned work orders from the shop chief and headed for my first aircraft. Even though June in South Carolina was young, the temperature approached what I would expect in August. Inside the C-121 was sweltering, even with the cargo door open and all the escape hatches removed. My task was routine, so while my fingers repaired the search radar system, my mind was on the Harley-Davidson.

How was I going to keep Aunt Ruby happy? Obviously, getting the motorcycle out of her shed would do the job. Could I have it running in two days? I wasn’t sure. The day crawled, and by the time I was off duty I was so dehydrated I could only think of a cold shower and spending the evening at beer garden. But the commitment I’d made the previous afternoon took priority. Besides, getting the thing running and some wind in my face would make this effort worthwhile.

Not owning a car made the trip to Aunt Ruby’s house difficult. After putting some tools into a backpack, I thumbed my way off base and then south on King’s Avenue, then hiked the remainder of the way to Aunt Ruby’s house.

She answered the door and I introduced myself as the fellow who,had purchased her nephew’s motorcycle.

“He ain’t no kin of mine, other than just being one of my people,” she declared.

“Well,” I stammered, “whomever he is, I’m here to get the bike put together and out of your way, ma’am,” I explained, taken aback by this turn of events.

“Alright. Will you take it with you when you leave tonight?” She asked, folding her arms beneath her heavy breasts.

“I don’t think I can do it that quickly.”

“You’d better,” she threatened, and closed the door before I could respond.

I made my way to the shed and switched on the light. Piece-by-piece I sorted through the box and started assembling parts I could identify. The job was slow. The air in the shed was so still it became a sauna. My own perspiration burned my eyes and I was forced to repeatedly wash my face at a spigot near the entryway. Darkness had already settled over Charleston when Aunt Ruby arrived.

“Are you going to get it out of here tonight?” She demanded.

“I won’t get it done tonight.”

“Then I’m calling the police,” she announced, turning and heading for the house.

There were many things I would have liked to shouted at her back, but I didn’t. I could only hope that her treat to call the police was only a threat. But luck was not in my corner.

Within fifteen minutes two Charleston Police Department officers were on the premises, one shining his five-cell flashlight in my face while the other escorted Aunt Ruby to the house.

He asked for my version of the story, and then listened while I explained the situation, showing him the notary’s signature and stamp on the title I’d not yet had time to transfer to my name. Moving into the shed, he searched the box and then studied the progress I’d made. While I explained how I was led to believe Ruby was his aunt, but she claimed otherwise.

“It’s a K Model,” he said under his breath, shining his light first on the motorcycle, then into the box once again. “How soon will you be done with this?”

I explained I should be done by this time tomorrow.

“And what if it won’t start? what then?”

“I’ll push it out of here. Aunt Ruby won’t ever see me again,” I assured him.

“Wait here,” he ordered, and then he headed for the house.

I continued working on the bike while awaiting for his decision. And in a period of time, perhaps ten minutes, he returned.

“She will allow you to keep it here until dusk tomorrow evening, but no longer. I don’t want to come out here again. You follow me?”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Don’t thank me. Thank her for cutting you some slack,” he said.

We shook. He met the other officer at the gate leading from the side yard, and for the first time I realized they were both motorcycle cops.

By ten o’clock I thought it was finished except for the wheels. But I was too tired to be absolutely certain. I turned off the light and locked the door. Then I headed back for the base for a cool one and some earned time in the rack.