Butch was working on his car again. He was always working on that car. It was the same car he had been working on since he was in high school and now his kids were there. It was his pride and joy up on cinder blocks and rusted jacks in the side yard of the house. This was Butch’s 1957 blue and white Ford Fairland convertible.
It looked like rain so he was under the car to do some work on the frame. With only his lower half sticking out of the side of the car his feet could almost touch the neighbors fence as he was working today. It made for a lot of wiggling to get under there so he didn’t want to have to stop what he was doing if it only started to drizzle.
Butch had been out there for a long time without interruptions this Saturday. The kids were elsewhere at their friend’s houses and his wife was busy shopping for the weekly groceries with a friend of hers. The ball game was on the radio and a cold beer was within reach. This was the male equivalent to the bliss of shopping his wife talked about.
He finally found the wrench he had been feeling around for and started on the rusted nut he had coated with lubricant earlier in the day. He has gone to work on the other nuts and bolts while it soaked in and he was back to give it another try. This one particular nut was the rustiest of all of them so far and the wrench kept on coming off as the rusty coating flaked away. Butch’s knuckle was bleeding and it dripped into his eye. After cursing and sucking on his rusty dirty finger he got back to working on that nut. This time the wrench stripped it completely and he had gotten his finger pinched hard in the bargain. Since no one was around to hear him curse he threw the offending wrench full force as he cursed loudly to make himself feel better.
The wrench hit the cinder block so hard there was a spark and he sighed with relief because Butch had taken out the gas tank for more room under the car for him to work in. He was shifting his weight so he could wriggle out and get another beer while retrieving the wrench when he heard the cinder block crack and the car came down on top of him.
When he came to, he found that the car had knocked the wind out of his lungs and it felt like he had broken a few ribs, but he was alive. Butch was pinned so that he couldn’t move and he couldn‘t even reach anything to bang on the car to attract attention from the neighbor‘s. Now all he was able to do was wait for the family to come home and call for help. He tried not to panic.
Butch thought about a lot of things while he waited. Like how his cigarettes were now crushed in his T-shirt pocket and he couldn’t even have a last smoke before he got to the hospital and had to give them up until they let him out again. He thought about how he had to pee from the two beers he had before he crawled under here. He thought about how he was going to miss the card game with the boys tonight and miss out on making a few bucks for beer from the new guy, Len’s cousin, who hadn’t perfected his poker face yet. He thought about how he was going to have to buy a new radio because the one he had been listening to was now smashed to smithereens and he was missing the end of the game. He thought about his car and wondered if they would damage it any when they lifted it off of him.
After what felt like hours, but was really only about thirty minutes, he felt a tickle in his throat and knew a cough was on the way. He tried everything he could think of to distract himself from the feeling, but the more he tried the worse it got. It started small, but once it got started it wouldn’t let go. He coughed until he lost consciousness again.
Butch woke up hearing his wife talking to her friend about him as she brought in the groceries. “He’s probably over Ralph’s by now.” She said. “If he was here that radio of his would be on.” She couldn’t hear him try to call out to her with what little air he could get into his lungs. She just went into the house with the last bag and started putting the food away and then started to make supper. Junior came racing in on his bike and bumped into the other side of the car using it as a stop, and the car came down a little more. Junior then high tailed it into the house saying, “What’s for supper?“ And he didn’t come back out to put his bike away in the garage like he was supposed to.
Now Butch knew it was getting serious. His breathing was taking most of his concentration. He stopped thinking about the blond down the street that likes to sit on her front steps in a thin night gown to drink her morning coffee and he started to tell God he wouldn’t look at her anymore on his way to work. Butch would even take a different street to avoid the temptation, if the good Lord would only send someone to come and get him out from under his car. He even threw in a plea for forgiveness for watching that porn film at the bachelor party a couple of years ago.
His daughter came home from her girlfriends house and Butch hoped that this meant he was saved. The girl’s father dropped Sissy off, but Carl didn’t stop to see what Butch was up to. He probably thought Butch was at Ralph’s house too since the hood wasn‘t up on the car today. Sissy went into the house by the front way. It was raining a little now and she didn’t like to get her hair wet. Hopefully someone would come out to get him for supper when his wife called Ralph and found out he wasn’t there and then they would find him. There was no note telling them he was gone and he hadn’t forgotten to do that since he was missing with his hunting buddies when Sissy was born. But when the door opened his wife just called his name and went back inside because it had started raining a little harder. Why wasn’t Junior coming out to put his bike away?
The rain cooled off the day and made him a little chilly along with wet from the waist down. He peed himself because now that he was getting all wet he couldn’t hold it in any longer. It started to pour buckets and he figured no one would know with all the rain washing over him anyway. And once he let it go he could breath a bit easier. That more than anything was a relief as the moment.
Butch hadn’t put the tarp back onto the car and since he had taken the top down the interior was getting wet. Butch was glad he had taken out the seats and put them in the garage. After a while drips started to trickle through the frame and onto him making him wetter still. The weight of the water added to the car itself and it sunk a little further onto Butch as the cinder block crumbled further.
His breaths came in gasps. Butch thought about all the times his wife wanted him to go to church with the family. He told God he would go every Sunday from now on instead of working on the car. He told God he would stop cursing in front of the kids. He’d even give up the hunting trips that were really only drinking weekends with the boys. He told God he would get rid of this darn old car like his wife had wanted him to for so long.
Butch’s head was pounding and felt like it was going to burst from the need for oxygen. He felt like he was drowning and was seeing stars and his brain was screaming for help as he lost consciousness for the last time still begging God for help.
The funeral was a nice affair and Butch’s wife sold the car to the junk yard the day after he was put in the ground. But she still hears Butch tinkering and cursing out there every time she sticks her head out of the back door and cans of cold beer can be found out by where the car used to be in all sort of weather, but especially when it rains.