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Grease Monkey Blues

Harry was working on his 1953 Mercury convertible. This was in the 1960s. He loved to work on cars. He was a natural mechanic. He found he needed a part that would be necessary to keep the car on the road. It would drive, but the part was going bad, and needed to be replaced soon, or it would die on him sometime along the highway.

About 20 miles away was a junkyard. He could go there, find an old Merc, or perhaps a Ford, and get the part he needed. That is, if they had one there in the yard. He would go there now and find out, since it was summer and there was no school. He called Ricky, his cousin and constant companion, to go along with him. Harry hated to be alone.

Ricky also went along with Harry on his paper route out in the country. They made the drive only on Sunday for the subscribers of the paper from the city about 60 miles north of them. Harry paid Ricky 50 cents to help him. They got up at 4:00 a.m. every Sunday morning, picked up the papers that were dropped off at the local co-op, and got out on the road. Harry would have paid Ricky a dollar, but they had flipped a coin, and Ricky lost.

Anyway, they went up north to the junkyard, located down a dirt road about a mile from the highway. Checking in at the office Harry was told where he might find the part he needed. When he did they would be glad to remove it for him and let him go on his way, after he paid for it.

Ricky and Harry wandered through the yard checking the vehicles and at last found just the Mercury they needed. Harry said the part was there. He memorized where the car was located. Then they went back to the office, told them they hadn't found what they wanted, and headed home.

The two lived within shouting distance of each other in a small town. About 10:00 p.m. that night Harry drove up the road and picked up his buddy. Ricky told his mom they were going up to the Tastee Freez to play some pool in the back room. Then they headed out on the highway to the junkyard.

Arriving at the dirt road to the yard they drove about an eighth of a mile down to a small turn-off. There they parked and got out. Walking down the road as quietly as they could the reached the gate to the junkyard and climbed over. They had made sure that there would not be a guard dog to worry about.

It took only about fifteen minutes to find the car they wanted. They were lucky that it was a moonlit night. They had not needed to use a flashlight yet. Now they got to work with the tools they had carried in stashed in pockets. Or rather, Harry got to work. Ricky knew nothing at all about cars and engines. He was just a rider and occasional driver. Now, he held a flashlight while Harry removed the part. It was quick work.

Carrying the part was not hard. It only weighed about five or ten pounds. They retraced their route and got over the gate and down the road without being seen or heard. Getting back in the car they drove without lights to the highway, turned on the headlights, and headed south to home.

Harry was always in need of funds. He had a girlfriend who loved his convertible and really enjoyed going out with him. His only money came from the paper route, which was not much. Anyway, he was willing to cut certain corners, and Ricky, his sidekick and buddy, would usually go along with almost anything.

The part went on the Mercury and they continued their lives together for a short time. Soon it was time for them to separate and go their own ways. Ricky went up-state to the university. Harry went not too far away to a vocational/technical school to learn more about working on cars and trucks. He completed his course in two years.

Harry had no problem finding work. But it was not close to home. He had to drive at least an hour south to the next state. His job kept him at work late and he would then drive home along a winding, tedious state highway.

Ricky was called by his mother. He was still in the university. It was bad news. Harry had fallen asleep at the wheel and had hit another car head-on. There were no survivors.

Harry had married his high school sweetheart. He left a grieving widow and a very young son.

He also left a good buddy who could not help wondering what if?

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