The purply-green goose egg behind Sedrich’s left eye-brow wasn’t a result of overactive winking at our violinist.
It all started after choir practice last Thursday. My purposeful exit ended when my 6’ 4” fellow-bass lurched his way through the gaggle of soprano’s snuggling into their winter wear and clamped my elbow. My cobalt-blue Northface jacket, snagged by his vice grip, petrified in place while the zipper tab rocketed up into my Adam’s Apple.
“Jackson, what’s the hurry?” he crooned as I stumbled back into my jacket in an effort to stop an impromptu tracheotomy.
“Gotta get on my snow tires,” I gurgled between gasps.
“Blithering blowholes are always predicting snow,” Sedrick rumbled as he released his pincer claws. I struggled to regain my dignity as the pianist squeezed by. Sed pressed on. “Haven’t changed my wheels in six years. ‘Ceptin for my two flats last summer. Old Bernie gave me his spares. Saved a bundle.”
“Weatherman’s predicting severe storms.” I tried to catch his eye as he looked back toward the raven-haired violinist securing the bow in her case. “I’ve got fresh anti-freeze. New brakes. Tune-up. Filters. New wipers. Full-tank. I think I’m ready. Just need the tires on.”
Sedrich’s eyeballs popped out as if he’d come down with Graves Disease. “If I didn’t know better, Jackson, I’d think you was preparing for the second coming.” He took another quick glance at the violinist, now wrapping a scarf around her neck. “The roads’ll get salted. Don’t waste your money. I’ll pick you up tomorrow. 6:30. After the game.”
“I’m leaving at 4. The weatherman’s predicting two feet by mid-afternoon and then a temperature drop below zero. The salt isn’t going to help your tires.”
One fault I have is knowing too much. If Sedrich has one fault it’s his dislike of know-it-alls. Another fault I have is not always being able to keep my mouth shut. This time was no exception. Sedrich had seen the violinist walking out the side exit and was making his move to follow. I anchored his sleeve to get his attention. He jerked. Despite my whiplash I managed to get off a parting shot.
“You’ll be late. It’s 23 minutes from your place to here. The roads’ll be icy. It’ll take 3 NHL hockey rinks to stop on a good day. 10 times that tomorrow. The crews should be using sand but they’re not. “
The look on Sedrich’s face reflected the reality that I had transmogrified into an alien right before his eyes. His arm flicked like a cow’s tail and I flew like a fly. I extracted myself from the coat rack in time to hand the organist her furs. It was definitely time to be leaving and getting those snow tires changed.
Sedrich’s team lost. I’m not sure how much that had to do with his missing the choir performance on Friday. Or the cost of the tow truck that finally reached him after he shivered five hours in that snow bank. Or the cost of the repairs he had to cover because his insurance had run out last week. Or the fine he had to pay for not having a safe vehicle on the road. Or even the bump on his head he got because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
My call went unanswered and the next time I saw Sedrich he was hunched over in the cab of Old Bernie’s crew-cab trying not to be noticed as they pulled into the church parking lot on Sunday. The bump had already reached the blue stage despite the ice he applied. His sheepish look betrayed him when he tried to claim that some plow had run him off the road. The bump was nothing, according to him.
Talk is cheap and Sedrich’s “real” story soon reached the water cooler down at Hammond’s where we both happen to work.
Sedrich tried to avoid me but I showed extra mercy by dropping off a glass of water and some Tylenols at his desk. “Sed, guess you’ll have to be giving up a few dates with your dream girl to put in some overtime. By my calculations you just paid out nine times as much as me to get your car through the winter. Her solo took me to the heavens. Wonder if she’s free Friday?”
Fortunately, I duck quick. Sed’s got a temper problem. Maybe I’ll help him with that in the spring when we discuss investments. If he’s ready.
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