Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sneak Peek #7: Personal Demons
Frannie has taken some serious knocks in life, one of which is the death of her twin brother, and she relies heavily on her grandfather to help her sort things out, which you will see from the conversation.
If you need to catch up, the previous Personal Demons excerpts can be found here. (scroll to the bottom and work your way up)
“Hand me the torque wrench, Frannie.”
I rifle through Grandpa’s tool chest and come out with it. Then I lie on the cement floor of his garage and slide in next to him under his restored ’65 Mustang convertible.
The smell of oil and exhaust means Sunday afternoon to me. From the time I could hold a screwdriver without putting my eye out, I’ve been under a car with my Grandpa every Sunday after church. My sisters think I’m weird, but I can’t imagine anything better than the feeling of accomplishment when you take something apart and then put it back together with no pieces left over—and it works. Some of my warmest memories are of being on the cold cement floor in this garage.
“It’s coming along,” I say, looking up at where he’s tightening the last clamp on the engine we spent all winter rebuilding.
“Not more than a week or two out. Can ya grab that wrench and hold this bolt while I tighten the clamp?” he says, and his deep sandpaper tone resonates to my bones.
“Sure. You’ll let me drive it?”
“You’ll be first—after me, course. Reward for all your hard work.” He turns and grins. His smiling blue eyes are warm and soft even in the harsh glow of the shop light hanging from the belly of the Mustang.
“Excellent!” I picture myself cruising down the street, top down, music blaring.
He runs his grease-covered hand over his balding head, leaving a large black smudge in the middle of the short gray fringe. “We’re almost ready for oil. There’s a case in the corner. Can ya pull four quarts?”
“Sure,” I say, sliding out from under the car.
“There’s a funnel over there too. I’ll tell ya when I’m ready.”
I grab the oil, bring it back, and twist the oil cap off the engine block. “Grandpa?”
“How did you meet Grandma?”
He laughs—a rich sound that fills the garage and my heart. “At a street race when we were in high school. She was a good girl. Barely been kissed.” He chuckles. “But I came along and fixed that.”
“When did you know you loved her?”
“The second I saw her.”
“How did you know she loved you?”
I can hear the smile in his voice. “She told me…and then she showed me, if ya catch my drift.”
I try to picture them young, like in some of the pictures I’ve seen: Grandpa, all strutting around in his jeans with a pack of cigarettes rolled into the sleeve of his T-shirt, and Grandma, the good girl with the mischievous gleam in her eye. And then I picture my grandma—how I loved to curl up with her on the couch while she read me the classics—and my heart aches. “Do you miss her?”
“Do you believe in Heaven?”
“Do you think Grandma’s there?”
“If anyone is, it would be her. I don’t think God would hold lovin’ me against her.”
“Do you think Matt is there too?” I ask past the tight lump in the back of my throat.
“For sure. Sittin’ on his grandma’s knee.”
Even though I know it’s all a lie, it still feels good to hear him say it. Like a comfortable old fairytale. “Thanks, Grandpa.”
“I’m ready for that oil. Slow and easy.”
“You got it.”