Home > Take Me with You(9)

Take Me with You(9)
Catherine Ryan Hyde

“Well. I’m awake now. So I guess you might as well.”

“I’m giving you the repair. Either way. It’s yours, no strings attached. I just decided. Know why I’m doing it? Because you need it. I’m seeing the need in you, one man to another, and we’re both human, so I’m gonna reach out and help your situation. Because I can. If that makes you so happy you want to turn around and help my situation, that would be much appreciated. But whether you do or not, you’re free to drive out of here when I’m done. No charge. So, congratulations. You’re going to Yellowstone.”

August blinked a few times, too aware of his own blinking. He heard crickets. He hadn’t heard crickets since he was a boy. At least not that he could remember. Then it hit him that they must have been there all along, and he just hadn’t registered hearing them. It seemed strange that he could be so unaware of the sound then and so aware of it now.

“I’m not sure what to say.”

“Don’t say anything. Sleep on it.”

And with that Wes walked away, around the corner of the shop to whatever living quarters lay hidden away back there. In the bright light of the full moon, August could see the little puffs of dry dust kicked up by the mechanic’s shoes. He closed the door and looked down at his dog.

“That was curious,” he said, and Woody gave him a puzzled look, like he should be helping August figure it out. “I wonder what I’m to make of that.”

Woody tilted his head slightly but left August to sort things.

“You know that just makes it even harder to say no.”

He sat down on the edge of the bed, set his forehead in one hand, and tried to figure out if the added sense of pressure had been purposely applied to him, or if the offer was a pure act of altruism and the guilt just a side effect. He couldn’t make even the slightest headway in telling the two apart, so he went back to sleep.

Eventually.

August slept much later than he meant to. When he woke, he dressed quickly and began the process of raising the window shades. He started with the driver’s side, the window over the dinette table. The mechanic’s face appeared just inches from the window screen, startling him. August jumped back and let out a small noise, immediately embarrassed that he had. Woody barked once, sharply.

“Sorry,” Wes said. “Didn’t mean to scare you. But I could tell you were up, because the rig moves a little when you walk around in it. You slept late. Did you know it’s after ten?”

“Oh. Not exactly, but I knew it was weirdly late. I don’t usually sleep in like that, but I was awake a long time in the night.”

“Right. Sorry. My fault, I know. Anyway . . . I just had some news, so I been waiting to tell you. I’m ahead of schedule. Looks like I’ll be done early this afternoon. Well. Not early early. But maybe more like three instead of six. Thought you’d want to know.”

August leaned forward and pressed his hands down on the dinette table, because it felt too weird and awkward to stand, hands at his sides, and carry on a conversation through the window.

“Now how did you manage to pick up three hours just this morning?”

“Well,” Wes said, and scratched his head. As if it was a mystery to him as well. “I didn’t exactly. It’s more that I always add a cushion of time. Because it seems like something always goes wrong. A bolt strips while I’m taking something apart. Or shears right off. And I got to drill it out or something. Or I get things apart and there’s more going on in there than I thought. But now I’m putting it all back together. And nothing’s gone wrong. And nothing much left to go wrong. So I thought I’d let you know. Because I figured . . . if I get you done by three, you’ll be wanting to get on the road today.” Long pause. “Right?”

“Probably so,” August said, identifying the subtext without addressing it.

“And you’ll want to . . . you know. Get ready and all. And . . . like that.”

“Right,” August said. “Like that.”

“Take her out for a test drive,” Wes said a little after two thirty.

August climbed into the driver’s seat for the first time in three days. Woody leapt into his position on the dog bed, on the floor between the driver and passenger seats. As he always did. He seemed to feel as though staying anywhere behind the cab of the rig while August drove away might amount to being left behind.

August started up the engine, a trifle apprehensive, but it started well and ran smoothly and quietly. He looked up at Wes through the windshield. The mechanic gave him a thumbs-up, the fear and need on his face nearly breaking August’s heart. August looked away again and shifted into reverse. Put his foot on the gas. Just as the cab of the rig pulled level with the front of the garage, August glanced over and saw the boys.

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