“Your tellin’ me he gave you the money?” Billy said from under the hood of the old car.

“Three hundred, yeah.” Hap said. “But I gave him a ten back for a drink. He looked like he needed it.”

Billy’s head came out from under the hood.

“Got another one? I think I could use a stiff one about now too.” Billy said.

“I thought you gave that stuff up. You at it again?”

“Nah,” Billy said, “just thought I might get ten bucks out of you. I haven’t touched a drop since I got out last time.”

“That’s good.”

“Thought about it a hell of a lot, but haven’t touched it.”

Billy went back under the hood of the car. The old Chevy filled about half of the garage. The other half overflowed with a collection of tools, parts, scraps, a dog, and a 1954 Marilyn Monroe Golden Dreams calendar on the wall over the workbench. Someone had offered Billy five hundred dollars for that calendar, but he said it had sentimental value and wouldn’t let it go. For Billy, the shed and everything in it had sentimental value. Even the stuff he didn’t remember was there.

“Do you think he’ll pay you the rest?” Billy said.

“I dunno.” Hap said. “Based on what I saw last night I doubt he’ll remember it.”


“So, what are you gonna do?” Billy said.

“About what, the door?”

“About this Carl guy. Billy said. “I know you, and you’re not just going to let this go without doin’ something stupid to make it worse. Remember that time with the Swan boys when we were in school? You’re not thinking of something like that again are you?”

“Hah! That was a hell of a deal wasn’t it?”

Hap laughed. Billy did not.

“Got both of us kicked out for a week.” Billy said. “That was when we hopped the train to St. Louis, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, I think so. Or was it Chicago that time?”

Billy pulled his head from under the hood.

“Nah,” Billy said, “Chicago was later. We were older. That was just before I get sent-up the first time, remember?”

“Oh, yeah, that’s right. That was for taking that old truck wasn’t it?”

“They gave me six months for stealing that piece of junk, well, and the four others.”

Billy went back under the hood.

“How many times you been up there?” Hap said. “Two?”

“Three.” Billy said.


Billy looks out from under the hood.

“You got quiet. What are you thinkin’ about?”

“I’m thinking you may be a hell of a mechanic, but you make a lousy thief.”

Billy stood, wiped grease from his hand and looked at Hap.

“So, did you come over here and interrupt my work just to insult me, or what? Or did Helen finally get enough and throw you out?”

“Nah,” Hap said, “I need some help with the bees this morning and wanted to…”

“Bees?” Billy said. “Oh man, you know I don’t like messin’ with those things. I don’t like gettin’ stung.”

“You won’t get stung.” Hap said. “Did you get stung the last time you helped me?”

“Three times.” Billy said.

“Well, you weren’t paying attention. Now come on, come and help me and then we’ll go get some ice cream.”

“Well, you buying?”

“Yeah, I’m buying.”

“Let’s take this.” Billy said as he closed the hood. “I need to run it around a bit anyway.”

“Okay.” Hap said. “You drive.”

“Hell yes I’m gonna drive.” Billy said. “I’ve spent three days getting it running right and I ain’t about to let you blow something up again.”

“Now, when have I ever blown-up a car?” Hap said.

“You want that list in alphabetical order, or by date?”

“Now you know you can’t do the alphabet any farther than G, just get in the car.”

The roar of the engine starting up covered whatever it was that Billy said in response.