Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: IT'S CHILD'S PLAY (06/06/19)
TITLE: Hey Gabriel, Quit Blowing Your Horn
By Mariane Holbrook
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But one incident involving him has always left me scratching my head in wonder. In retrospect, the answer seems so obvious that even a child would have known what to do.
It happened one lovely summer night when everyone left their bedroom windows open to enjoy the cool breezes wafting through their homes. Gabe was in deep REM sleep, snoring like the proverbial wounded warthog, when I looked over at the clock: 3:10 a.m.
Suddenly and without prelude, an ear-splitting, earth-shaking, 200-decibel blast of a car horn caused me to bolt upright.
"Gabe!" I shouted, pulling on his arm, to wake him. "Our car horn is waking up the entire neighborhood. Get up quick. Hurry!"
Gabe stirred slightly, listened, then turned over to resume his snoring. "Relax. It's not our car horn. Go to sleep."
Leaping out of bed, I ran to the kitchen and opened the door to our attached double garage. Both Gabe's car and mine were in their usual places but the sound was ear-splitting.
I ran back and dragged Gabe out of bed, screaming, "It's our car, Gabe. Get up. Our neighbors will kill us."
He was only convinced after he entered the garage where he quickly slammed his clenched fists over his ears.
I flipped on the garage light to facilitate his search for his toolbox, then opened the side door slightly to see neighbors' interior lights being turned on here and there. I knew most of them had jobs to report to in a few hours and were feeling robbed of necessary sleep.
Gabe quickly draped himself over the motor of his Mercury, yanking out one thing after another in a desperate attempt to stop the piercing sound.
He pulled out hoses, loosened nuts and bolts and flung small parts onto the garage floor until a pile the size of a teepee began to develop.
I stared in disbelief but since I didn't know a carburetor from a camshaft or a drive shaft from a dip stick, I decided not to question him.
It soon became clear that as a car mechanic, Gabe could make money as a skilled seamstress. I remembered the day before our wedding years earlier when his car overheated on a busy street in Manhattan. He quickly removed the radiator cap, releasing boiling hot steam onto his unprotected face. Only Aloe Vera and several coats of face powder applied to his burned skin saved our wedding day.
Once again, I opened the door to the outside only slightly to hear a neighbor shout, "Turn off that stupid car horn" so I quickly closed the door. Porch lights were being turned on and off everywhere, indicating neighbors' irritation over their sleep interruption.
Gabe was sweating buckets so I mopped his face with a small kitchen towel. He couldn't discover anything that controlled the merciless car horn which was sure to cause us both severe, premature hearing loss.
I ran into the kitchen for a glass of iced tea which Gabe gulped down in two or three swallows.
Bigger and bigger the pile of parts grew until I wondered at what point he'd yank the entire engine out single-handedly.
Glancing up at the garage wall clock, I noticed that 35 minutes had gone by. I thought of phoning my brother for advice but since he always referred to Gabe as, "He who can, does; he who cannot, will teach,” I promptly nixed that idea.
Moving around trying to dodge the various engine parts that Gabe was flinging in every direction, I crouched behind one of the cars and prayed to receive the "Gift Of Mechanical Aptitude." Our neighbors knew that we were Christians and I felt certain every last one of them wished that we and our wretched car were at a church somewhere on the remote Isle of Crete.
Suddenly, our side door to the garage opened and in walked our neighbor. Unceremoniously lifting the hood to my Buick, he promptly disconnected its battery.
"Gabe," he laughed, slamming down the hood, "You've been working on the wrong car."
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