Folks ‘round here call me Jake. Ain’t short fer nuthin’, just Jake. I live in Chase. Chase ain’t got nuthin but a bar and a church. We used to have a school but now them kids get bussed to Herbertville. Everyone goes to Herbertville fer everythin’, ‘cept drinkin’ and preachin’. There’s two things folks in Chase are loyal ‘bout: brews and pews.
I work at Clancy’s Auto Parts on Route 19, just south of Herbertville, OK. I can tell ya just about any part that goes to any car, ‘cept maybe if it’s European. We don’t do Yer-A-Peein’ shit. All we get in here is Ford’s, GM’s and Chrysler’s.
Oh, right, that sweet little Megan Kisslooper out on Route 211 got a European car, a VW Beetle. Her dad spoils her rotten. Sweet Sixteen come around and she gets that little foreign job for her birthday. Her dad so proud of her. Makes me kinda laugh cause while she got that little foreign job everyone know she giving out her own kinda jobs inside her little foreign job. No joke. She give out more blow jobs than a tornado in a trailer park. Still though, I wisht she came into her for something, sometime. She’s ‘bout the prettiest thing ya ever saw.
“Jake” I hear bellowed out from back in inventory. It’s my boss, Crud. His name ain’t really Crud, it’s Crudemeier, Ross Crudemeier but ever since fourth grade he been called Crud. We the same age, but he still my boss. He gets three dollars more an hour just cuz he went right to work outta high school instead of me dickin’ around at the Community College for two years. I got an Associate’s Degree in Agro-economy. I know all the special genetically engineered crops of sunflower, but Crud still gets three dollars more an hour than I do.
“Yeah boss.” I holler back.
“Got Mrs. Breckenridge on the line, needs a head gasket”
“OK,” I holler back again and pick up the receiver out front by the register.
“Yes ma’am,” I say into the phone. I hear her coughing up a lung and pull the phone away from my ear a bit. Three bouts of cancer, an oxygen tank at her side and she still manages to smoke three packs of Pall Malls a day. She always asks for me and she always is coughing into the phone when I pick up.
“Jake?” she sputters,”That you?”
“Yes ma’am” I say.
“Sorry about that honey, must be allergies.”
‘Allergies to non-filtered tobacco,’ I think to myself
“No problem ma’am” I answer.
“Georgie says I need a new head gasket.” she says catching her breath again. Georgie is her son. He works in Herbertville at a hair salon. That’s right. A hair salon. Georgie’s about the biggest bone smuggler you ever t’meet. I mean that. Georgie played fullback in high school on the line with me, but I was just a half back. Georgie was a good four inches taller and forty pounds heavier than me. Georgie didn’t tell nobody in high school he was a ring raider, but I’ll be damned if the minute he didn’t git out of high school he started driving out to Charlesville where they had a gay bar. He was only eighteen, but he looked like he belonged in the NFL. I imagine those boys in Charlesville didn’t mind letting him into their bar. Aint no wonder he ended up in Miss Gloria School of Cosmetology. That’s just what donut punchers did ‘round these parts. He became a hairdresser, a big-ass hair dresser.
“Ok ma’am,” I answer, “Georgie mention if ya need a Fel Pro, Edelbrock or a Victor Reinz?”
“Oh now honey I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout that.”
“What car is it for ma’am?”
“Ok ma’am,” I answer, “I gotcha. I’ll have a Fel Pro waiting. Georgie gonna pick it up after work?”
“I’ll let him know shuga,” she said, “Georgie will be glad to see ya Jake.”
“Yup,” I said, “nice to see him too.”
I wasn’t lyin. I don’t have no problem with Georgie bein’ fancy. He was a damned good full back, and my Mom says he is the best colorist in the whole county. I don’t quite know what a colorist is, but what the hell. If that keister kisser was happy choppin’ locks all day, more power to him.
I set the receiver down and ran the sale on her account. I went back to running all the facebook and email order that came through and looked at the clock, ‘bout a half hour to go.
“Jake!”. It was Crud again.
“Yeah boss.” I hollered back, I don’t know why he couldn’t pick up the receiver and press Front Desk.
“Got it.” Freight Access truck just started pulling into the parking lot delivering our orders of motor oil and filters. We’s having a sale this Saturday and Sunday and this was the stock.
I picked up the receiver and pressed Garage
“Yeah,” came Cal’s thick drawl.
“Hey Cal, oil and filters just pulled up, can you grab a dolly and help him unload.
:Yeah.” came Cal’s thick drawl once again. I know he knew more words than that, I just don’t think I’d ever heard him say more than that.
I finished up the email and FB orders and looked at the clock again, fifteen minutes left and then the weekend was here. I had weekend off, finally. Took me six years of working weekends to finally get ‘em off. I was eager for this weekend to get here because Herbertville was having a gun show at the high school this weekend. Rumor had it they had a few Hatsan 125 Sniper C Vortex Air Rifle Combos. I’d been after one of them for a year or so.
I was just thinking about the weekend when Candy walked in.
‘Fuck.’ I thought to myself. Nothing good happened when Candy came through that door. Candy was Crud’s wife. She never set foot in the store except when she was about to cause a ruckus. The door jingles and then her heels clacked on the tile floor as she balanced herself on those damned four inch heels she always wore. What self-respecting Oklahoma wife walked around in those things instead of a pair of sure footed cowboy boots.
“Howdy Candy.” I said as she dumped a leather purse large enough to smuggle a spring pig with onto the counter knocking over the pen cup and stack of auto-parts magazines. Candy was what you’d call a handsome woman, sturdy across the bow. Her eyebrows were dark brown and perched halfway up her forehead. My thought was that Candy could benefit from seein’ ol Georgie boy at work.
“Hi John” she said hardly breaking pace as she walked around the counter back into Crud’s office in the inventory. I’d been John to her for about three years. She knew my name was Jake. It was stitched right onto my damned shirt. Yeah, she was that much of a bitch.
Macy, the cute eighteen year old who ran parts, rolled her eyes at me when I looked over at her.
And then it began.
“I don’t care if you got a sale this weekend, we’re going out to Mothers!”
Inaudible on Crud’s part.
“You got eight employees who can run the damned sale. It’s Mother’s birthday!”
“She’s seventy-two for Christ’s sake, she won’t be around forever!”
“End of mother fucking story Ross!”
Crud’s door opened back up and Candy, with a self-satisfied look on her face, exited. Flipping her hair back over her shoulders, she picked up her purse with a hand sporting long red talons, clacked her way across the store and left through the jingly front door.
“Jake!” I heard Crud call out. I already knew what was coming.
“Yeah boss.” I said looking at Macy.
She and I both mouthed the words as he said them, “I need ya to work the weekend.”
Candy never came through the door without someone’s weekend getting shot ta hell.
“Yeah I figured as much.”
Ya did?” he asked, “Why?”
“Oh just a hunch.”
My rifle could wait another weekend until Hermiton had their gun show. Macy walked behind me, patted em hard on the shoulder in condolence and then went out the side door to the garage to help Cal with the filters.
I was just settin’ to shut down the front computers as it was three minutes before six on Friday when the door jangled again. The glass door was nearly covered in full as Georgie walked into the shop.
“Jake!” Georgie barked as he made his way across the store to the counter. “Did Mom get to you in time?”
“She sure did.” I said.
“Great,” he answered, “I’m gonna head over there and see if I can get it on before it gets dark.”
I stepped back from the desk and found the box with Georgie’s name on it and pulled the head gasket out. “Here it is bro.”
“Thanks man.” He reached out and took it with the biggest manicured hand ya ever saw. “How’d life treating you?”
“Oh just fine I suppose.” I answered, “You?”
“Me?” he said, “I couldn’t be better! I’m gettin’ married!”
“Married?” I said with surprise. “Tuh who? Anyone I know?” I asked trying to sound like this was no big deal.
Georgie smiled wide. “Yeah,” he said, “You know him.”
“Well who big guy?” I said
“To Cleat.” he said.
“Cleat?” I said with surprise obviously written across my face. “Hutch Cleater?”
Hutch went to school with us, but a year ahead. He was the soccer star of the school and was Prom King his Sophomore, Junior and Senior year. Since our school was so small, back then we still went to school in Chase, everyone in the school was eligible for Prom King and Queen. The girls used to swoon over Cleat. His thick black hair and pond blue eyes and athletic body from all that soccer made him the school stud. Yet with all that cred to his name, the girls just fawned over him because he was always such a gentlemen…..ooooooh.
“Yeah, Cleat.” Georgie laughed.
“Well shit,” I said reaching my hand out to shake his. “Congratulations.”
He met my hand and crushed it in his legendary fist crushing greetings.
“Thanks man.” he said.
“You married?” Georgie asked.
“Nope.’I said, “still chasing after the girls who were always chasing after you and Cleat!”
He laughed aloud, and so did Macy from a few aisles over.
“Well, you should come to the wedding.” he said, “it’s going to be a spectacle.”
“Sounds like a hoot.”
“Alright then,” Georgie said, “gotta go fix Mom’s land cruiser.”
“Alrighty then,’ I said.
I laughed to myself as his size fourteen cowboy boots somehow made it across the floor in a more ladylike fashion than Candy’s size three inch stilettos.
I turned the CLOSED sign over as Georgie left the shop. I walked back behind the counter and began counting out the register. I’d be back in eleven hours because Crud had no backbone and Macy didn’t know how to update the promo codes in the computer. Georgie and Cleat would be at home making out wedding plans. Megan Kisslooper was probably at home getting ready to go out. But hell, at least I wasn’t at home fighting with Candy. Small victories.