Outside it is dark
, no moon out. I somehow stumble
out to the shed and find the light in the darkness. It's one of those bulbs on a hook, at the end of a cord
. I hang it up on a roof support and flip the switch. The naked bulb casts a bright puddle of light
out into the yard, and it takes my eyes a few moments to adjust. Once they have, I can see nothing
beyond a few feet past the edge of the light.
As I am gathering the tools we will need, my Grandfather
walks out, and sits down on his stump by the shed. He talks about working on brakes when he was a mechanic. It seems like it must have been a long time ago
. Eventually I hear the screech and bang of the screen door, and a few seconds later, my Father
steps into the light.
We fumble and curse at the car for a while, and eventually remove the original part, which has been secured by bolts, rust and paint
for the past thirty or so years. As we work my grandfather continues to talk, while my father frowns and mutters. After a while my Grandfather pulls a small paper bag from a pocket hidden somewhere in his clothes, and begins to drink
. I try not to notice
Once the parts have been switched, we have to test them out. My Father will drive. I move to the passenger side of the car, and my Grandfather falls shakily in behind me. My Father stares over the roof of the car at him.
"You don't have to come along, Pop."
," my Grandfather mumbles, and climbs into the back seat.
I glance at my Father and shrug. I can't tell my Grandfather to stay out of my car.
Once we are all inside and moving, my Father glowers behind the wheel, while my Grandfather sits quietly in the back seat. The road is quiet and deserted this late at night
. My Father gets the car up to forty or so and eases onto the brakes. Everything works fine. He starts the car moving again, and slams down on the pedal. I reach out to the dash to steady myself, and feel my Grandfather's hand on the back of my seat. The wheels lock up and the car skids a few feet before coming to a stop. We move like this, in odd intervals
, for about a mile, before my Father is satisfied. When we reach this point, he says nothing, and turns the car around.
The car is moving steadily, when my Grandfather speaks from the back seat.
"What's that noise?
"I don't hear anything," my Father replies.
"Coming from the back of the car," my Grandfather says slowly, "sounds kinda like engine noise, but it's not."
"I don't hear any-"
At that moment a loud, grinding, roar
comes from the back of the car, and it begins to shake violently. My Father stops the car and mutters a curse. We sit quietly in the sound of crickets
for a few seconds before he tries moving again. Nothing but shuddering, grinding, and roaring results.
"Goddamnit!" my Father yells, pounding his hand against the wheel.
"Sounds like the rear-end," my Grandfather says quietly.
"I know what it is.
I glance into the side mirror, and catch my Grandfather's eyes. Somehow the look on his face reminds me of a lost child, confused and alone, separated from his parents in a strange place.
"We'll have to push it back to the house," My Father says, opening his door. "You steer, son."
I get out of the car and walk around to the driver's side. My Grandfather gets out behind me, and walks to the back of the car with my Father. The two of them slowly begin rolling the car back toward the house. Without the engine running, I can hear the soft sounds of the wheels against the road, and two generations of slow, heavy, footsteps
. Spraying out in front of the car, the headlights look somehow obscene in the dark, deserted night, so I tun them off, leaving only the reddish-orange glow of the parking lights. No one seems to notice. In the rearview mirror, my Father and Grandfather's faces are obscured by darkness and I can barely distinguish them from one another. Slowly, I turn my head into the cool breeze
coming through the car's window. The mustang
rolls slowly down the road, and I close my eyes to listen to the slow grinding of the wheels against the pavement.