Flippers were flunking and lights danced across the back box as Marty raked in another 100 points on the Gottlieb Buckaroo. “Woo Hoo! Kick that Cowboy!” cheered a familiar voice as the score reel spun a horse’s kick to the old Buckaroo.
“Hey Jim-boy. How’ve ‘ya been?” greeted Marty extending his right hand to Jimmy while the silver ball pinged between the left and right flippers, not quite making up it’s mind on where it wanted to go.
“Great man,” replied Jimmy. “Just got done my first three duel-barrel carb job on Mr. Grant’s Eldorado. She won’t be choking anymore, she’s roaring like a gentle lion now. How many games you turn there, Mr. Wizard?”
“Just got started really,” answered Marty while his crazy flipper fingers let another ball slip by. He pulled the spring-tensioned knob to bring down the next silver ball when the head board flashed in red ‘Game Over.’ “Aw heck it. Just ain’t my day today. Let’s go sit down and talk carburetors. I’ve had my eye on a Fairlane 500. What do you ‘spose it has? A two or four in it?” asked Marty as he picked up his mug of birch beer and headed towards a table.
Jimmy motioned to Caroline the bartender to bring him his usual Genesee as he sat down next to Marty. “Ah, you got your eye on that one that’s for sale out on Ancora Road don’t you? Does that sign still say $400?”
“Oh yes, and I hope nobody can buy it before I can,” said Marty excitedly. “We’ve been paintin’ the house across the street there all week and it’s all I can do to stop from dreaming about it. I got $185 saved up now and after Dad over there gets to payin’ me for this week I should have another $100.”
“That car ain’t worth the paper the price is wrote on, Wizard. I’m telling ‘ya. I stopped by to take a look at it a few Fridays back with Rosalie and that piece of shit ain’t worth but fifty bucks.” said Jimmy. “The retractable won’t go down evenly, radio’s been ripped out and the fucking dashboard is all ripped out.”
“I saw it needed some attention, but didn’t look inside very well. Hows the engine? Did she start up?” asked Marty.
“Looked clean for a 272 but the owner had some sap story about the battery cables. Couldn’t get her to turn over once so I could hear it run. Didn’t seem like he was about to come down much on the price now either, but he’s gotta give somewhere here.” replied Jimmy.
A flash of green slapped on the table as Marty looked over his shoulder, “There you go young man. Ninety dollars pay. Ain’t bad for a boy your age now is it?” said Marty’s father above him. “I’d a gave you a hundred but I docked you for your dilly dallying.”
“Hi Mr. Berg,” greeted Jimmy standing up to shake Marty’s father by the hand.
“Hey, it’s the grease monkey,” replied Mr. Berg as he ignored Jimmy’s hand and addressed Marty again, “So you gonna catch a ride home with Jimmy here or do I have to roll you home before I order me another beer?”
“I’ll take him home, Mr. Berg,” answered Jimmy. “No problem.”
“Well, you two boys keep yourselves out of trouble now. And you Marty, get right home. Your Momma may need you to sit with your sisters tonight.”
“Yes sir,” replied Marty as he slurped down the rest of his birch beer. Jimmy did the same with his Genesee and they both stood up together. “Let’s roll.”
There were eight motorcycles lined up in a row by the time the boys exited Roscoe’s. As usual, Jimmy had to stop and adore each one of them. There were four Enfields and three Bantams but the one Jimmy loved the most was a brand new gold 1965 Harley Electra Glide that belonged to Roscoe’s brother Mario. “One of these days,” said Jimmy as he shook his head, “One of these days I’m going to sit on top of one of these bad boys and call it my own. Just you wait and see. Hey, let’s go stop and take a look at your Fairlane on the way back. Whatcha think?”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” said Marty as he hopped in Jimmy’s pick-up truck. “So are you seeing Rosalie this weekend?”
“Yup. Dinner and a movie tomorrow night. She may come out earlier for the afternoon if she’d get her chores done before noon.” Jimmy answered, “Speaking of dates, did you give anymore thought on meeting her friend Ginny?”
“Yeah, and she’s just too old for me. What is she 18 now?” asked Marty. “She’s not going to want to date a 16 year old. You know how them fresh out of high school girls are. Always falling for the older guys and their wads of cash.”
“Get out of town, Mart.” chimed Jimmy, “They’re not all like that. Ginny is such a sweet, quiet little girl. Just your type man. Just your type. Come on out to the Hammonton Carnival with me next week and just meet her,” Jimmy prodded.
“Well okay,” said Marty. “I guess just meeting her won’t hurt none. There it is,” he said pointing to the turn on Ancora Road. It’s right down there a few blocks on the left.”
The boys pulled up to the curb only to find that the Fairlane had been moved into the driveway. As they stepped out of Jimmy’s pick-up they heard what sounded like a shot gun blast only to realize the Fairlane was running and had just backfired. Out of the garage stepped a battle scarred, middle-aged man with a missing right arm extending his left hand for an awkward handshake as he tossed an oily hand towel over his right shoulder. “Howdy boys. What can I do you for?” he asked.
“I’d like to take a look at your Fairlane here Mister,” stuttered Marty. “I’ve been looking at it all....”
“What he means Sir,” interrupted Jimmy, “Is that he’s interested in taking this old clunker off your hands. I see ‘ya finally got her running this afternoon.”
“Oh I remember you boy. You’re the one who tried to Jew me down to $50 bucks a few weeks back. Did you come to your senses yet?” asked the man as Marty cringed at the Jew remark.
“Oh come on man, she’s falling apart here. Top ain’t going down quite right, her dash is torn all up. Ain’t even got a workin’ radio.” argued Jimmy as he opened the heavy, creaking driver’s side door.
The man shook his head and stated, “Watch your respects young man. Do you know how much I paid for this beauty when I first laid eyes on her? One thousand bucks boy. You probably ain’t seen that kind of money in all your life, have ya?”
“Excuse me Sir,” squeaked Marty, “May I drive her around the block to see how she rides?”
“Now that’s proper respect," said the man nodding towards Marty. "Sure boy. Go on, be careful she’s a wide turner there. Leave her some room,” the man replied as he waived young Marty off.
Jimmy leaned back on oak tree, pulled out a half pack of Kent from his shirt pocket and offered the man a smoke. As they both lit up and filled their lungs Jimmy remarked, “Listen man, I mean no disrespect. I’m sorry about that. Mart here, he’s my buddy and he’s just out and getting started. You know as much as I know that that beast is going to take a shit-load of cash to get road ready again. How long has she been sitting out here rottin’ away anyway. A year? Two?”
“I suppose you’re right about that son,” said the man as he took a drag off his cigarette holding it between his left thumb and forefinger. Flicking the ash off with his middle finger he continued, “Mac's junkyard has a bunch of part cars back in the lot. Most of what she needs can be carried out of there. You good with cars boy?”
Jimmy dragged his smoke and thoughtfully replied, “I’m Junior Mechanic down at Ray’s Garage. Picked up a lot of know how from working there this year.”
“No shit,” said the old man, “Ray and I go way back. Served in the Korean War supporting the infantry together back... oh 15 years back or so. Best damn mechanic on the field. You’re learnin’ from the best.”
Jimmy flicked his cigarette down the drive and replied, “Yeah, Ray’s a damn good boss. Fair and square. Doesn’t take too kindly to the way I style my hair much.”
“Yeah,” the man chuckled, “He’ll buzz ‘ya good if you ain’t careful. So can you do exhausts and brake jobs on your own?” he asked as he patted the trunk of his cherry red ‘63 Thunderbird. “This girl needs some work done and I’m not about to pay Ray’s prices for repairs. Let’s say we make a deal. Your friend can have the Fairlane for $100. I’ll pick up the parts needed for this baby here and you install them for me Sunday afternoon?” the man offered, flicking his cigarette and extending his left hand again to shake on this awkward deal.
“$90 and we have a deal,” countered Jimmy as they saw Marty turning the corner down the road. “His Dad jewed $10 bucks out of his pay this afternoon and that’s all he has on him.”
“That’ll do,” agreed the man as they shook hands in the driveway. “Lemme go get the title and the bill of sale,” he said as he walked back into the garage.
“Hey Wizard!” shouted Jimmy over the racing 272 engine, “Get your $90 bucks out. You done bought yourself a car!”