The smell of axle grease and kerosene filled Emmett’s nose as he shuffled into the garage and through the maze of car parts. His eyes stopped on the calendar beauty. Not the buxom blonde draped across the hood, but the 1966 Chevy Supersport decorating the wall.
“If I wasn’t sure of your love for me, I might get jealous of that old calendar.”
Emmett jumped around at the sound of his wife’s voice. She was still the most beautiful thing God had ever given him.
“You know it’s all about the cars, babe.”
“Of course I do because if it wasn’t…I’d have to kill ya!” The humor in her eyes made him laugh.
“So what can I do for the love of my life?”
“The pastor called again. He has another one.”
“When will he be here?”
“Sometime this afternoon.”
“Okay, I’ll be ready.”
Emmett had barely finished lunch when the bark of his dogs alerted him to the arrival of a stranger. He turned to see a young man no more than sixteen emerge from an old car. His clothing of torn jeans and a dirty shirt, matched his hairstyle, unmanaged and disheveled.
“Excuse me sir, I’m looking for Emmett Hayes.”
“You found ‘im.” Emmett slid back underneath his car to tighten a bolt with his ratchet. His visitor squatted down for a closer look.
“Pastor Jim says I can work for you to earn a room and some food.”
“So…should I take my things inside?”
The tires on the dolly scraped the concrete as Emmett slid into the daylight and looked at the boy’s face for the first time. He had deep set eyes with lashes that could have touched his forehead. Emmett supposed if his daughter were home she’d be swooning.
“What do ya mean, nope?”
“Your place is above the garage and I got a few rules.”
Emmett followed his gaze to the apartment window.
“You work from dawn till dark, Monday through Saturday. On Sunday’s you go to church with us in the morning and then you have the afternoon and evenin’ free. You get breakfast, lunch and dinner from my sweet Anna and you treat her with respect…yes, Mam and no, Mam. Got that?”
“Yes sir. Should I get started now?”
“Right after you get a haircut. Anna’s waiting on ya.” Emmett nodded toward the back porch where Anna stood behind a chair with her scissors. Disappointment crossed the young man’s face.
“Do I have to cut my hair?”
“At least enough to show your eyes…so I can tell if you’re honest.”
Emmett watched as the boy shifted from one foot to the other like a scale weighing choices and then turned toward the porch. At least the kid liked cars, a little too much Pastor Jim said. His first offense of grand larceny bought him two years of house arrest and community service at Emmett’s garage.
“One more thing boy…what’s yer name?”
“Clyde sir, my name is Clyde Fisher…and what’s her name?” He pointed to the primered body of the 1966 Chevelle.
“Her name is Roxie.”
Emmett slid back under his car and mumbled a prayer.
“Seems like he might be a good’un after some hard work. Help me lead him to You, Lord.
Clyde proved his loyalty and good heart to Emmett over the next couple of years as they worked on Roxie together. Jesus became the topic of choice underneath that old hood and Emmett knew his dream would have to wait a little longer.
“Well today’s the day!” Emmett tossed the keys to Clyde.
“You want me to start her up?”
“Yeah…since she’s your car.”
“No way! You’re given her to me?”
“I can’t take her. You’ve dreamed about having a car like this one.”
“Well, I get my love out of fixin’ them up and it’s Ol’ Susie’s turn back there. Besides you need something to drive at college.”
Clyde wiped his eyes and turned the key.
“Nobody’s every done anything like this for me. How will I ever repay you?”
“How ‘bout doin’ good in school and stayin’ outta trouble? Now, go get your bags packed. Anna and I want to drive you to the campus this evening and get you settled.”
Emmett watched as Clyde climbed the stairs to his apartment when the dogs started barking at a rusted old car pulling in the drive. A young boy with cut-off shorts and a pony tail emerged.
“Excuse me sir, I’m lookin’ for Emmett Hayes.”
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