April 11, 2020
His garage in the alley between 14th and 15th
After 5p on a Saturday, overcast, 50 degrees, cool breeze
It’s April now and he is working on the starter of his black ‘97 Jeep Cherokee. He’s also putting in a new battery. He went to the store to buy these parts while I was at the beach earlier. A perfect early spring beach day. He’s wearing black overalls, a black t-shirt, black bandana, and a black vest. There’s a lot of black stuff in his life. I think he has a broken heart. He’s got my shades on and he looks very cool in a real bad boy kind of way. There’s a cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth. He grunts a frustrated grunt. I can’t tell if he really wants me here or not. I guess it doesn’t matter much because here, I am. I guess I’m not too worried about it.
He takes a hammer out of his toolbox. “Most important tool in automotive repair,” he says, cigarette still hanging out of his mouth. His hands are black with dust and grease. I’m into it. He finishes his cigarette and throws it to the side as he walks to his Volkswagen for a pair of gloves. Maybe he senses I was just writing about his hands.
We’ve spent nearly all of the last 11 days together. That is hard to believe and I could have never imagined it this way. That’s been a lot of life this past year. Tomorrow is Easter and that seems impossible. How does time pass?
“Please just do what I want,” he says as he tightens something under the hood. I wonder if the second most important tool in automotive repair is hope. “Maybe not the moment of truth, but a moment of truth,” he says as he walks around the side of the Jeep to try to start it. It starts and he does a little celebratory dance. He’s proud of his work but won’t admit it. This is part of his bad boy cool. I am glad for him. I think he really likes this Jeep. I would too. I do.
He puts a black baseball cap on backwards, lights another cigarette, dips under one side of the Jeep. I take a photo.