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Sunday, August 20, 2006

FADED BUICKS AND BUSTED DREAMS--THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF CARTER EDWARDS


If you have not been to the cafe for quite a spell you will have to back-track one story to catch Part One. Other than that sit back with a fresh cup of Joe, order up some eggs and bacon and find out what this Edwards boy was up to.



After twelve hours of hauling Melvin pulled a roll of twenties and peeled off 2,540 bucks from his chain drive wallet. Carter nearly fell over dead. He had never seen that much money in one pile, at least not around his house. After bills were paid, granny's stone paid for and his parents taking in account his room and board for twenty-some years, he was left with nine hundred dollars and figured it was truly a gift from above.

Early the next morning the money had burned a hole so deep in his pocket that the very skin below was red and itchy so he dressed, gulped down coffee and toast and out the door he ran to catch a ride to McCarver's place. He knew exactly where he was heading after he bought the Buick.

It didn't take long for a ride to show up and as luck would have it, which is a rare commodity in Cater's life, Jerry Hendigger was hauling a load of pigs to the auction in Bradysville, so he passed right through Quails Hollow where McCarver stored his Buick.

Jerry stopped the small rig down by Quail River and before the air brakes sent out their whoosh, Carter was out and heading down Jasper Road, a gloomy gravel road which followed the river and up past the second bridge he could at last see the barn that held his every thought captive.

He ran up the rock strewn path and slid the barn door to the side. There sat the massive 3,452 pound ‘72 silver blue Buick Electra hardtop with at least 15 years worth of dirt packed down with pigeon droppings. A quick survey showed a cracked windshield and four flat tires that matched. Carter popped the hood and under the cobwebs and rodent nests sat the largest engine he ever laid eyes on, a 455 cubic inch, four barrel, premium gas swallowing pile of cast iron.

Webster walked in and saw Carter's glazed over eyes and detected a slight amount of drool emanating from his mouth.

"I'll take it," Carter yelled. "Are you sure it will run?"

"Well it did when I last parked her," Webster said, kicking one of the numerous barn cats away.

The two men killed the morning and half the afternoon attempting to resurrect a long forgotten relic of the cheap gasoline era. Finally after a new battery and lots of priming, Frankenstein awoke. Clouds of noxious blue smoke filled the barn then gently settled into the low pasture where the muggy summer wind collected it and pushed it gently out of sight.

A Buick, once dead, coughed and sputtered until the gas ran through the iron veins and ignited the dormant cylinders, then in a belch of fire and black smoke, the engine gave in and finally ran on all eight cylinders. Cater gave Webster his $275 bucks plus another 30 for the battery, filled the tires and rolled off in a cloud of dust and oil smoke.

Knowing something had to be done about the large accumulation of barn residue he drove back to the Burford Filling Station Car Wash and Video Store. When the owner came out to survey the mess he refused to touch it. Not to give up he drove over to the Burford quarter car wash but when Jake Ackers, owner of the car wash laid eyes on the none-too-fragrant residue, he too refused to allow him into the car bay and sent him out back where local men wash trucks and farm implements. After three hours of vigorous scrubbing and rinsing Carter was finally down to the paint, meanwhile two tires went flat.

After borrowing an air compressor from Jake he headed back to the filling station to repair the tires and noticed the 10 gallons of gas he poured into the car was nearly gone.

"Likely runnin' a little rich. ‘Hat's bad if'n you gotta use premium gas," the attendant told Carter as he mounted the last tire. "Best put sumptin like STP down the carb, maybe it'll clean ‘er out. Seen on TV oncet where them race car drivers down at the track are usen it.

Carter dumped a can of cleaner down the carburetor, put twenty dollars of the cheapest gas in the tank and sped off towards home with a newly acquired engine knock. He had just one thing on his troubled mind, getting a date with Elsie Pheltz. Carter flew down the driveway and rear-ended gramps Studebaker, pushing it against the very same porch gramps launched his rocker off when leaking gas blew most of the old house down.

The Edward's family came running out to see what landed on the roof. Like a line-up of misfits they all stood there and leered at the Buick. Never has a car that large ever entered their driveway and not many thought it would ever leave.

"Right fine car ya got their son. Ya didn't perhaps see grandpa ‘round nowhere", Pa asked, standing on the porch in his tattered long underwear. Before Carter could answer his siblings, to many to keep count of, were crawling about the Buick and asking for a ride to Berford.

"How am I going to ask Miss Pheltz to the dance with ya'all getting me aggravated, now scram." Nobody moved. A few more family members soon joined in, climbing about the car playing with the power windows and AM radio. Two more crawled into the trunk. Carter threw his arms into the air and wearily trudged his fatigued body to bed. Later that afternoon he discarded the filthy jeans out the back window and after a few swipes with a soapy cloth he put on a new shirt and jeans, saved for a moment just as this.

After his family convinced him into taking the whole clan to town he pulled up the long driveway and for the first time in as long as anyone could recall the car made it to the highway. When they arrived in Berford, Carter shut off the car as the engine dieseled for nearly three minutes before stopping. His family scattered in a million directions as they all had someplace to go. Carter had just one–the Crosby Diner where Elsie Pheltz waited tables.

He stood by the Buick which had taken on the smell of hot oil. His legs felt like Jello. Carter slowly opened the screen door and peaked inside the aging diner. There stood the secret love of his life with her back turned. He quickly sat down, swiped a metal comb through his hair, grabbed a menu off the gray and white Formica counter and prepared his dance invitation. Carter had to make this good.

Elsie turned around and saw him sitting there. "Carter Edwards, why you ol' skunk, what brings you to Berford," she said, smiling so cutely at him. "Haven't seen you in a coon's age."

Carter's world suddenly came crashing down. He stared in disbelief, half stunned.

"Why Elsie, you're, you're ah, ah preg..." He couldn't get his thoughts in order.

"Yes, I'm pregnant. Six months along."

"Who?"

"Why the Mason boy, who else, were pertnear married already. So what's ya havin'"

"A bad day," Carter said. "A real bad day."

7 comments:

Nylecoj said...

It looks as though thst ride he caught may still be the best luck he has had in a while.
I am really enjoying this story.
I trust that the new installment means you are feeling a bit better.

Hankmeister said...

Well, at least it wasn't the mailman's, Ms RightWing.

Ms. RightWing, Ink said...

Not to worry. As time goes on there will be more Carter Stories, as well as others. Piles and piles of stories are sitting by my desk. I just need to rewrite a few. You know as time goes on, I rethink articles.

camojack said...

I hate when that happens...at least six months too late, huh?

MargeinMI said...

Poor Carter. :>(

"..kicking barn cats..." Been there, do that.

Maggie said...

More.....more....you can't leave Carter there.

Ms. RightWing, Ink said...

There are many more fun packed chapters of the unpublished book that need editing. Good place as any to edit them (as I feel able)