It's not about the house.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The End of the Ordeal

This story starts here, continues here, and this third part is the conclusion. Thanks for your patience. Three days is a long time to wait to read a story about a tire. I know you all must have lost a bit of sleep for all the wondering...

Little-Truck AAA Guy assured me – as had the Wrecker Man, and Johnny – that there was nothing wrong with the car besides the tire. He said the whompada-whompada I heard was just what a really flat flat-tire does, especially at 65 mph. He described it so well for me that I took his word for it, and took his advice. I moved Chuck to another parking spot. At one mile per hour.

whomp… a…da…(god, I hope you all are right that it’s okay to do this) whomp… a…da… (almost there, now) whomp… a…da…(phew!)

Made it!

Little-Truck AAA Guy moved over with me, and sat there shooting the breeze while waiting for dispatch to call back and tell him how long it would be before the tow truck came. I wished he’d leave me alone so I could go back to the New Yorker article I was reading about talking computers. (Hm. No misanthropic implications there, what?) They finally called and said the Big-Truck AAA Guy would be there in 20 minutes, and so Little-Truck Guy left – but not before admonishing me to be there when Big-Truck Guy came. As if I hadn’t been there all along. As if there was, for that matter, anywhere else to go. And as if I wasn’t positively bursting for a pee.

One should always keep a bottle of water in the car for emergencies. But in emergencies one should never, never drink it!

Big-Truck AAA came in less than 20 minutes (man, am I never going to get to finish this New Yorker article?). I filled him in on the whole ordeal up to now, asked him, too, for an opinion on that axel (he agreed with everybody else) and told him that I wanted to be taken to my tire guy, out in North Quincy.

My tire guy just might be the only honest businessman I have ever managed to dig up on my own – although, technically, Johnny dug him up and handed him to me – and he is so good and decent as to restore anybody’s flagging faith in humanity. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was glad that this was happening, but the way my life’s been going lately, I wasn’t exactly sorry for the chance to get a dose of Jimmy’s Tire.

I had Big-Truck AAA Guy pull in to Jimmy's the back way so he’d have plenty of room to put me down – to put Chuck (TFT) down, that is, and not in a shotgun kind of way. Jimmy met us in the yard, and I told him the whole story.

“, yeah,” I concluded. “Then the AAA guy said the spare was bad, and here we are.”

“Okay,” says Jimmy. “Come on in the office, let me get a phone number from you where you can be reached.”

Office. I love Jimmy. This so-called “office” is a desk and a telephone in the middle of a big pile of tires. With a roof over it. But how did he know I got myself a cell phone since the last time I was here? Didn't matter. I followed him in the so-called office and rattled off the number.

“AAA Guys lie,” he murmured as he wrote it down. “Didn’t want to say anything out there and embarrass him, but we see it all the time. They tell you that your spare’s bad because they don’t want to change it. Maybe ‘cause they hope to sell a new one. We’ll have a look, but we won’t replace it unless it’s really necessary.”

Jimmy is officially my Pretend Grampa.

He said it would be done in about an hour, and that he’d call me when it was. Said I’d be welcome to wait in the office, but I didn’t think that sounded like the most comfortable place to waste an hour on a beautiful morning. Besides, I was still bursting for that pee, and something told me Jimmy’s bathroom might not be the most sanitary place for me to have it.

While I was walking over to the Stop & Shop to use their bathroom, I decided to give Johnny a call and let him know what was going on. He was painting in My Lady’s house, remember, so he could also fill her in and put her mind at ease. Except for, hm, that’s odd. Johnny’s phone was trunking over as if he were still on the subway, underground.

That can’t be right.

I tried a few more times, then decided that he must have accidentally shut it off, and called My Lady.


“Hello, Lady, it’s Erin. I—“

“Yeah!,” she interrupted. “What ever happened to Johnny?”

“He’s not there?”

“No. And,” she stammered over it, said it in the absolute nicest way possible, but still: “and I can’t, you know, sit around here all day waiting for him.”

Um, didn't you and I have plans? Weren’t we supposed to be reading the Bible in the cemetery right about now? Where, exactly, do you need to go? Also, Johnny has my key, he can let himself in, you don't need to wait for him. But most important, like you said: what happened to Johnny?

I told her just the part about him having a key. I apologized on his behalf, said I was sure he’d be there just as soon as he could. Said, maybe a little pointedly, that I hoped he was all right. Asked her to have him call me as soon as he turned up, then wished her a good weekend and rung off.

I’d be lying if I said the thought didn’t cross my mind perhaps he’d stopped off for a pint along the way. A little liquid Prozac after our harrowing ordeal might have been something an Irish doctor would order. I was beginning to crave a smackerel my ownself. But then I remembered that it was only 9:00 a.m. when he’d left me, and that he loves My Lady almost more than he loves me. (He always has been a sucker for the ould ones; I think he wants them all to be his Pretend Ma.) So I put that thought out of my mind and rang him up again.

And again.

And again.

I called his number repeatedly, hanging up and dialing again as soon as it trunked over to voice mail. (Somewhere in all of this, I made it to the bathroom. No, I did not dial from the pot.) Finally, as I was making my way back across Newport Ave., he picked up.


“Yeah. What?”

He was okay, and yes, still on the train. I didn’t get the whole story from him until later, but I’ll tell it to you now:

Turns out that the T station we could see from where I’d left him – JFK – is the only thing (or the only thing I’ve ever heard, at least) Johnny’s afraid of. He apparently was mugged there one time, years ago, ever since he won’t go in save at the pinnacle of a rush-hour commute. And according to his definition, 9:00 a.m. was not quite pinnacley enough, so he’d walked up to Andrew.

Andrew was closed, so he walked up to Broadway.

Where he sat.

And sat.

And sat.

Until the train came.

And then he sat some more.

So yes, he was physically all right, but emotionally he was a little bruised. It really did take him two and a half hours to travel – oh, what the heck, let’s get the exact distance from google maps, shall we? hang on... 4.1 miles.

By now I decided that I deserved a treat, so I walked up to 7-11, bought a liter of Diet Coke and a 99-cent-sized package of Baked Lay’s, and headed for the beach. I was still dressed for lunch with My Lady, but that did not preclude me from sitting on a bench in the seabreeze, sipping soda and snacking on processed potatoes while finally finishing that New Yorker article.

It was a lovely walk, the beach was gorgeous, and no sooner had I sat down on that aforementioned bench than I heard a trill, electronic warble.


“Hi Erin, it’s Jimmy! Your car’s all set. Didn’t need a spare after all. Just cleaned the rust off the old one and it’s fine. Got a used tire on there for you, and you’re good to go.”

“Okay, great! I’m up at the beach, so I’ll be there in as long as it takes me to get back.”

“Oh there’s no hurry. It’s a beautiful day! Stay up the beach all afternoon for all I care. Heck, maybe I’ll come up and join you!”

Have I mentioned how much I love Jimmy's Tire?

But I didn’t stay. It was coming on noon and, since my loverly plans for my loverly day had been dastardlily dashed by Chuck (TFT), I’d taken a cue from My Loverly Lady and decided there was someplace else that I needed to be. And I needed to be there by 12:35.

So I walked back up to Jimmy’s Tire, paid a whopping total sum of $50 (have I mentioned?) and took myself to see Sex and the City. Bought myself a large Diet Coke with just a little bit of ice, and a large popcorn with no butter but whopping gobs of salt. Sat there licking my fingers and laughing to myself (and hating Mario Cantone, but that’s a whole other gossipy story), and pretended, for two and a half hours, that everything was going to be okay.

Never did finish that New Yorker article. Can anybody tell me how it ends? Do the computers really talk? And if so, when do I get my freaking jet pack?

P.S. The next day, Johnny and I did some early-bird grocery-shopping for the 4th of July, and a five-pound box of frozen hamburger patties slid under Chuck’s back seat. I found it yesterday. And it's been hot.

So now he smells like the fetid, rotten, dead thing that he has been all along.


Chris said...

I think I'll have hot dogs.... Thanks...

Sparkle Plenty said...

1) I hate tires. I don't care that they make cars scoot along. HATE THEM. Cars should be on runners. Like old tyme sleds. Roads should be grooved.
2) GLAD you went to the movie. That was the perfect thing to do.
3) Poor Johnny.
4) Love da Jimmy.
5) Am mailing your jet pack to you.
6) Computers only talk after a few drinks. Then you can't shut 'em up.
7) Hamburger slide-stink: OH. WHY must there ALWAYS be a final indignity?!

theotherbear said...

I guess it could be worse, you could have a crooked tire guy.

Know the feeling on leaving the meat in the car. I did that last summer with some really expensive steaks. It was over 40C that day (104F). *Shudder*

su said...

I did it with a box of smelt and boy did it ever..."smelt"