Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Carburetors and Cold Nights #atozchallenge

Not the Firebird in question.  One for a later story.

I don't like starting a story with,  "It had been a long day", but it had been a long day.  The kind of day that grinds your bones and spirit to dust.  All I wanted was sleep and lots of it.  I had a hot bath, yes, I take baths and fell into bed around midnight. 

The phone rang.  I peeled one eye open focusing on the clock, 3:30.  I looked at the phone.  It was Johnny.  Boy, this had better be good.  I cleared my throat and answered.  The exchange as follows;

Johnny’s voice on the other end, cautious and strained, “You up?” 

"What do you think?"

"I dunno, maybe you're out or having a party."

"If I were doing any of those things do you think I'd answer and don't you think you'd be with me?"

"So you're not up."

"Actually, this is my outgoing message.  Wait for the beep."


Twenty minutes later I’m standing on a dark, quiet Brooklyn street looking under the hood of  Johnny's ancient rusting Firebird freezing my once-toasty cookies off.  Johnny, standing next to me wanted to know what I thought, like I was a surgeon examining a patient. 

“About the car or about you waking me up from a dead sleep to get this thing started again?”

Johnny and I have a strange relationship, we’ve known each other for years but we don’t spend much time together anymore.  I guess you grow up and get a family and a real job and suddenly you’re an adult.  They warned us against that.  We talk on occasion and see each other even less.  However, if the phone rings at three AM and one of us is stuck, the other doesn’t question. 

I saw nothing overt in the engine bay.  I told him to start it.  It strained but didn't turn over.  It could be anything which meant it could also be a long night.  All I wanted was my warm bed and I was standing there freezing in the dead of January with a flashlight.  I played with some wires to look busy and told him to try again.  Same result.  I was tempted to just call Triple A  but that stupid sense of pride kicked in.  Had I been more awake I'd have noticed the smell of gas earlier. 
Johnny flooded the engine again.  It really isn’t his fault, the car needs a lot of work.  It was more of an inconvenience than a real problem.  I was thankful the Firebird had a carburetor and not fuel injectors.  I rummaged around his trunk for tools but he had nothing but a roll of tape and a jack without a lug wrench. 

"Where are your tools?" I asked.

"Why would I have tools in my car?"

"In case you got a pizza and needed a carpet knife to cut it."

I took a screwdriver out of my car and shoved it down the throat of the carburetor.  Johnny looked puzzled.  I decided to have a little fun.  I told him I was going to start the car and for him to look close for any changes.  But not too close.  I turned the key and as expected, a plume of fire shot out the top of the two barrel and engulfed the hood for a moment.  Of course, Johnny yelled and jumped back a few feet and I wondered if his eyebrows were still intact.  I gave it a little more gas.  The flame was sucked down and snuffed out and the old bucket cheated death once again.   I got out and found Johnny checking his hair and eyebrows.   

“You really need to stop calling me for stuff you can do yourself", I said as I tossed him the superheated screwdriver. 

“Well, maybe I missed you", he said.  "We don’t get together like this anymore”. 

He had a point.  Life has a way of stealing these moments from you. Moments of mindless joy and frivolity.  Instead, we're forced to think of the blows life deals, the responsibilities no one prepared us for.  The ache of time and distance on old friendships.  Mortality perhaps.

We closed the hood, sat on the fender and talked about nothing and everything until the black city night sky gave way to morning.  Funny, in those hours I had never felt more awake.

For something more ticklish please visit my children's picture book blog at for the adventures of Ollie, a five legged spider of mischief and mayhem.   He's also part of the challenge.


  1. You had me at Brooklyn...I'm a former NYer :) Love the feel of this story and the bond between the two characters.
    Thanks for visiting my blog today!

    1. Hi Katie, Thank you for reading. Always a pleasure to meet a fellow New Yorker. Ex or not, it's in the blood. See you on yours today.

  2. So true. In a corporate or 9 to 5 job, one is forced to grow up. Love the way you write, and your wry humour.

    [@samantha_rjsdr] from
    Whimsical Compass

    1. Thank you Samantha. You made my day! See you on your blog today.