by Tim Mead
Jeff hadn't run since before Phil's death. On this Sunday morning he decided to resume his practice of running the 2.5 mile multi-purpose trail around Lake Polk. It was a beautiful morning and at 7:00 AM the trail was nearly deserted. Nor was there much traffic on Lake Shore, which, like the trail, encircled the lake.
After one lap he was puffing a bit and he rationalized that he would do two laps the next morning.
When he got back to what he still thought of as Uncle Phil's house, though it was now--or would soon be--his, he shaved and showered, put on clean underwear and socks, and went to the kitchen.
Avoiding the temptation to have a fatty breakfast, he had boxed cereal and a toasted English muffin with blackberry preserves.
After eating he poured a second cup of coffee and sat at the breakfast table, looking out the window at the back garden. Phil liked to say that Buddy had planned and planted so there was always some sort of shrub in bloom. At the moment a large thryallis was covered with spiky yellow blooms, on either side of it mounds of blue-flowered plumbago. But it was the bottle brush that took Jeff's attention.
The bush was ten feet tall, vase shaped, with the individual trunks clustered together at the bottom but fanning out as they grew upward. Jeff remembered bottle brushes from his childhood, but when they bloomed they tended to be covered with red blossoms in the shape that gave the plant its common name.
This bush, however, had a solitary red blossom.
Perhaps it needed fertilizer. Although Phil had had and Jeff still had a lawn service, they didn't take care of flowers or trees or shrubs. Just the lawn. Gardening had been Buddy's hobby, and Jeff guessed Phil hadn't paid much attention to the plants after Buddy passed. He decided soon he'd have to put some "bloomer" around the flowering shrubs, which had obviously been neglected in the year since Buddy died.
A pale yellow butterfly clung to the single blossom of the bottle brush. It remained there a long time before it seemed to be wafted away by the breeze. The image of the butterfly hanging from the blossom stayed with him as he went back upstairs to dress for church.
Although he'd never been churchy, Jeff went to the 10:30 service at St. John's. He lingered afterward to have punch in the parish hall, mostly so he wouldn't have to go back to the big, empty house. He visited with some people he already knew and with a couple who were newly arrived in Lake Polk for the winter. Then he went home, changed out of his church clothes, and lunched on a sandwich and an apple.
Since he'd spent the previous afternoon watching television, he had to do laundry. He changed the sheets on his bed and washed them. Phil had been adamant that Etta not have to wash his and Buddy's sheets. After the bed linens he did the towels. Then he did underwear and socks (on the knits setting, of course). And finally a load of shirts. He took the shirts out of the dryer and put them on hangers before they were completely dry. He refused to buy shirts with polyester in them even though that would have required less ironing. As he fussed with one particular shirt, trying to get its sleeves straight, the shirt seemed to fight back. He'd have sworn it had three or four sleeves as he searched for cuffs. Meanwhile the others were still in the dryer, getting more wrinkled as he struggled.
As he fiddled with the shirt, he remembered the stricture in Leviticus against wearing clothing of mixed materials and was amused at the irony of someone who had been condemned in the same book following that rule. But, of course, it wasn't for religious reasons. He just didn't like the look of polyester blend fabrics or the smell of them when you ironed them. So he wore all-cotton shirts and ironed them himself – except for the polos he wore after work and weekends from May through October.
When he was finished with the laundry, he settled in to watch what was left of the Buccaneers' game on TV.
It was a long Sunday evening, the only bright spot being Masterpiece Mystery on WEDU. As he went to bed, he found himself looking forward to going to work the next day because there, at least, he was busy all day long, surrounded by co-workers.
He set the alarm for 45 minutes earlier than he'd been getting up since Phil died. It was dark when it went off, and he hated getting up in the dark. But he pulled on his running outfit and crossed the street to the trail. That morning he made it one and a half times around the lake before he quit running. And, of course, he was on the opposite side of the lake from his house, so he walked the mile and a quarter home. Which was not a bad thing. The next day he managed to do two full laps, and he continued to do that the rest of the week.
On Tuesday evening he got a phone call, which he told Macey about at lunch the next day while they had salads and sweet tea at Applebee's.
"I heard from the people in Ocala." He grinned at her.
She leaned forward, expectantly. "So, which one of them called?"
"It was Julia."
"What did she say?"
"It was a, what do you call it, a . . . diatribe. But she began with, `Jeffrey, you are a wicked boy!'"
Macey put her hand to her mouth briefly, removed it, and said, "I can't believe a mother would say that! You're not exactly a boy."
Jeff raised an eyebrow. "But I'm wicked?"
"Not in the way she means, silly, but you have been enjoying this whole dildo thing a lot."
"At least let's not use mother to refer to that woman."
"What did you say back to her?"
Jeff grinned. "'I'm well, thank you, Julia. And how are you this evening?'"
"Go on! Tell me the rest."
Using a higher voice and different inflections when he was quoting his mother, Jeff repeated the conversation.
Julia: "Never mind that! Why in the world would you send your father and me those terrible nasty things?"
Jeff: "They're not nasty. They've never been used."
Julia gasps: "I certainly hope not! But even the thought of what they are meant for makes me ill, Jeffrey, positively ill. Why would you do such a thing?
Jeff: "Well, actually, I didn't do it. Uncle Phil left them to you and Fred, and it was his lawyer, Stan Mason, who sent them to you."
Julia: "If he's Philip's lawyer, does that mean he's a sodomite, too?" She didn't give him a chance to respond. "But that's not the point, I suppose."
Jeff: "And the point would be . . . ?"
Julia, frostily: "The point, Jeffrey, is that your father and I want these obscene . . . things out of our house. We'd throw them in the trash, but what if someone found them? We'd never be able to hold our heads up in this town again."
Jeff: "You know, those dildos are valuable. If you find the right buyer, you could get thousands of dollars for them."
"She came as close to losing it as I've ever heard her," Jeff commented to Macey. Then he continued.
Julia: "Noo! I want them out of my house! Now!"
Jeff: "Then I suggest you seal up the package and send the dildos back to Stanley Mason. I assume they'll become part of Phil's estate."
Macey snickered. "You really got off talking about the dildos to her, didn't you?"
Jeff grinned and nodded. "Uh huh."
"So what happened next?"
"She said she'd send them back to Stan. She also said she was going to send him a letter refusing to accept them and demand to be reimbursed for the cost of returning them. I imagine she'll give him a piece of her mind, as well."
"Poor Stan. It's not his fault. He's just following your uncle's directions."
"Yeah, but Stan has a great sense of humor. I think he's enjoying all this as much as I am."
Macey took a sip of tea. "Sweetie, I'm glad you had your Uncle Phil in your life. Otherwise you might have grown up to be like your ghastly parents."
It was the fourth Saturday of October, time for the Lake Polk Classics club to have their monthly "cruise."
Jeff had been looking forward to the event. Since inheriting Agatha, he'd had a renewed interest in classic cars. His new interest in Sam Dudek was even stronger. He told himself he was guilty of wishful thinking, that he didn't even know if Dudek was gay. He did know the man was single and lived with his parents. Jeff guessed Sam was a year or so older than himself, around thirty. The odds were he was straight, but one could hope. And he'd always been very . . . friendly.
Like many others who worked nine to five on weekdays, Jeff went grocery shopping that morning. He took the BMW, just to keep the battery up. Yeah, right. Maybe he'd reconsider getting rid of the sleek, finely-crafted Bavarian machine after the estate was settled. Maybe his co-workers wouldn't give him too hard a time if he drove it instead of the Subaru to work.
He found things to do that day, but really he was just keeping busy until he could walk to the downtown area where two blocks of Olmstead Avenue would be closed from 4:00 to 8:00 for the classic car club show.
He left the house at 4:00 on foot and arrived downtown fifteen minutes later. Some cars were still arriving at the show. Olmstead Ave. had diagonal parking, and the cars were backed into the spaces so people could walk down the middle of the street and see the front ends of the vehicles on both sides. Many of them had their hoods up.
Jeff was surprised to see what he guessed to be thirty cars on display. As he walked along, stopping to admire or peek inside the vintage machines, he was disappointed by two things.
There were no cars from the 20's or early 30's, the kind of classy antiques he (and Uncle Phil) loved. In fact, his Auburn (for the first time it gave him a thrill to think of Agatha as his) was older than anything on display. He decided right then he'd bring his car to the next show.
His second disappointment was that the owners and in some cases spouses had brought lawn chairs and were sitting in groups along the street visiting. Jeff would have liked to ask questions about several of the cars, but without the owner present all he could do was peek inside and admire. Or sometimes look at the motor and wonder, since he wasn't very mechanical.
But there was a band playing 50's rock at the foot of the small clock tower on the cleared space called the town square. The downtown restaurants and bars were open, and some of the merchants had stayed open as well. There was even a hot dog vendor, which Jeff didn't remember ever seeing before in Lake Polk.
As he strolled along he stopped to check out a black 1937 Plymouth coupe. He learned later that it was the oldest car there that evening. And one of the ugliest in Jeff's opinion, though he had to admit it looked to be meticulously restored.
A couple of times as he wandered, he dodged around a guy taking pictures. The second time the two smiled at each other. "This is just like tip-toeing around in paradise, isn't it?"
"Yeah, it sure is," Jeff said.
The cars at the show tended to fall into three categories: hot rods, muscle cars, and cars from the '50's. Two '57 Bel Airs, parked side by side, were attracting a lot of attention. Jeff was intrigued by a 38 Ford coupe and a 39 Ford pickup, both of which had been turned into street rods. The owner of the coupe had returned to his car and was explaining about how much it had been chopped, what changes he'd made to the wheels, and the new Chevy V/8 he'd put in.
As he was looking at a row of muscle cars from the late 60's a familiar voice behind him said, "Hey, Jeff! Glad you showed up. But where's Agatha?"
He turned to see Sam Dudek smiling at him.
"Sam, hi! How are you?"
The two shook hands. The skin around Sam's gray eyes krinkled slightly as he smiled. His grip was firm but not crushing. And he smelled good. The scent wasn't overpowering. It probably wasn't aftershave or cologne; more likely it was just the aroma of bath gel from a recent shower.
"Good, thanks. You?"
"Great. As you can see, I didn't bring Agatha this time. Wanted to just see what the show's like. And I've had fun poking around. But I have some questions. And I want to see your car."
Sam's smile became even brighter. "Oh, she's over here on `muscle row'." He led Jeff down the block to an area he hadn't gotten to yet. There were eight coupes from the late 60's or early 70's. He recognized a couple of Chrysler products, a couple of Mustangs, a couple of Camaros, a Firebird, and then there was a white car with blue racing stripes that had to be Sam's Olds.
"The white one's yours?"
"Oh, man, that's really cool. But those can't be the original wheels. What else have you done to it? Tell me!"
"You shouldn't have said that. My folks say once I start about my car you can't shut me up."
"I asked, didn't I?"
Sam nodded. "Well, for starters, it's a '67 Olds 4 4 2."
"Why 4 4 2?"
"When the name was originally introduced in the early `60's it meant the car came only with a four barrel carb, a four-speed manual tranny, and dual exhausts."
Tranny? Oh! He means transmission.
Sam continued. "Later, though, they gave you the option of an automatic transmission and even a choice of engines."
"How original is the car?"
"Well, you'd have to say this is a resto-mod driver, I guess. Olds put a really good V/8 engine in them originally but when the car was restored about ten years back, the original motor was pretty well shot. So now it has a fuel-injected Chevy V/8. That's when they changed to a 12-volt electrical system, put on the modern wheels and radial-ply tires."
"So all that was done before you bought it?"
"I've had it about five years."
"It's been repainted, I'm guessing."
"Yeah, I had that done, but I kept the original colors."
"Sam, I've seen Chevelle SS models and Pontiac GTO's. But I've never heard of this car before."
"Back in the day, Chrysler and Ford and GM were having quite a war for the muscle car market. I think the folks at Oldsmobile wanted to get in the race, so to speak. But they knew their niche was for people who wanted a little more in the way of amenities. You know, Oldsmobile comfort but with the ability to haul ass."
"What amenities does your car have? And does it haul?"
Sam grinned again. "Oh, it hauled with its original engine and it hauls even better today. But it has power disk brakes and power steering, plus power windows and A/C."
"So except for the wheels it looks like it did when it was new?"
"This is what they called a two-door hardtop, right?"
"Yep, though a lot of car guys are calling them bubbletops now."
"How about inside?"
"The interior was always blue, but I'm told it was pretty ratty. So they restored the inside along with everything else and while they were doing it, they switched all the vinyl to leather. Otherwise the look is just the same. Oh, and I have a modern sound system. The woofers are in the trunk."
"Right. I can see why you call it a resto-mod, then. You also called it a driver?"
"Yeah. Some classic cars get special license plates and special insurance if they're driven a very limited number of miles per year. But a driver is one you plan to use . . . to enjoy. I understand how important it is to preserve the real fine old classics, but cars should be fun, too."
"You don't race this, do you?"
"No. Not on a track. But some of the guys" (he nodded toward a group of people sitting and chatting) "and I have gone to a local drag strip and flexed our muscles. Not lately, though. The pecking order is pretty well established by now. These days the competition is mostly all talk."
"I'd love to have a ride in it sometime."
"How about this evening?"
"Where's your car?"
"Good. Why don't you look around a little more? If you have any questions, just stand by a car and look puzzled and the owner will probably spot you and come trottin'."
He glanced at his watch.
"Why don't you meet me at the Park Grille at 6:30? We can have burgers or a steak or whatever. I'll take you for a drive afterward and then drop you off at home."
"You'd leave your car that long?"
"Yeah. Some of the guys don't eat until after everything closes down. They'll look after the Olds for me."
Sam pulled his cell phone out of his shirt pocket, scrolled through a list and pressed a button. He made a 6:30 reservation for two at the Park Grille, which was on the next block.
The two separated so Jeff could look at more of the cars. Once he'd peered at and into and under the hoods of the rest of the muscle cars, he spotted a shiny little black two-seater convertible. Closer inspection revealed that it wasn't an old car at all. It was a Saturn Sky, and he guessed it couldn't be more than a few years old. But he also knew that GM had closed down its Saturn line. Too bad, for this was a beautiful car, something he could see himself driving to work. He'd often told himself convertibles were impractical in Florida from May through October because of the heat. You'd only drive with the top down after dark. Still, the Sky aroused his car-lust in a way that nothing else had. Then he experienced a moment of near shame as he felt disloyal to the beautiful Agatha. And to Uncle Phil.
He eventually found himself back near the two '57 Chevy Bel Airs, one red and white, the other turquoise and white, both four-door hardtops. He wasn't alone. These iconic cars were surrounded by gawkers, and both owners were there answering questions. After he'd finally gotten close enough to look inside and had marveled at how light the interiors were (due to the great amount of window space), he moved on.
His attention was caught by a strange-looking car, something he was sure he'd never seen before. It was shaped more like a beetle than the famous Volkswagens, rather bloated and ungainly. Yet it had to have come from the fifties, the same decade that produced the Chevrolets he'd been looking at.
He stuck his head inside the car, whose badging identified it as a Hudson Hornet. This was very different from the Chevys inside, too. The windows were small. The upholstery was a gray fabric. The dash was gray. All of that matched the outside, but it was dark and drab.
"There's more to her than meets the eye," someone said as Jeff was still leaning inside the driver's side window to take a closer look.
"Oh?" He pulled out and recognized the man who'd just spoken. Fortyish, he had a buzz cut which tended to minimize his receding hairline. He had jolly blue eyes and a florid complexion. "Jeff, I'm Jack Cremeans. We met at your Uncle Phil's funeral."
"Yes, I remember you. Thanks so much for coming. It would have meant a lot to Phil, what you guys did."
"We were all very fond of Phil. And Buddy."
"So, tell me about your car. What is the story?"
Jack's face lit up the same way Sam's had when asked about his Olds. "This old bird's a survivor."
"What does that mean?"
"It's had nothing done to it except for new tires, wiper blades, oil filters, spark plugs, and such since my granddad bought it in 1951."
"It's been in the family all that time?"
"Yeah. Grandma drove it until she died, and she lived to be 90. Then my dad said he couldn't stand to part with it, so he kept it in his garage. I remember riding in it when I was a kid, but finally he quit buying tags for it, so it just sat there. A few years back I wanted to buy it from him. He said if I'd keep it in running condition and show it to people I could have it. So that's what I'm doing."
"Can you tell me anything about Hudsons back in those days?"
"You can see from the looks why the brand didn't survive. But a lot of these cars were being run in stock car racing. They had a surprisingly powerful engine for the day, and they cornered better than the Ford and GM sedans of the time." He paused, rested his hand on the roof, and then continued. "And if you ask me, they were a lot better built than the Detroit cars. How many 51 Fords or Chevys or Plymouths do you see that haven't been extensively restored?"
"I'll have to take your word for it, since I'm like a total novice."
Jack showed him the trunk and the engine, pointing out features of the car. "Oh, and look at the button under the accelerator. That kicks it into passing gear. When you're on the highway and need a burst of speed, you just floor it and it really takes off."
Jeff chuckled. "My Subaru is supposed to have a passing gear as part of its automatic transmission, but when you tromp down on it, nothing much happens."
"I imagine your Subaru only has four cylinders. This is six."
They chatted a few minutes longer. When they parted, Jack said, "I hope next month you'll bring Agatha along. Phil would have wanted folks to see her."
"Yeah, you're right. I'll do that."
Jeff looked at his watch and realized he'd have to step lively to get over to Park Street to meet Sam at the restaurant. He thanked Jack and scurried off.
Both men had burgers, fries, and sides of cole slaw for supper. Jeff had a Sam Adams. Sam said since he was driving he'd have a Miller Lite.
Jeff took the opportunity to find out more about his new friend.
"You grew up in Lake Polk, obviously. Did you go to high school here?"
"Yep. Played varsity baseball, a utility infielder. But wasn't good enough to play in college."
"But you obviously did go to college."
Sam smiled. "How do you know?"
"Oh, something about the way you talk. Where did you go and what did you major in?"
"I went to USF. I really wanted to get out of Florida for a while, but the folks didn't see any need for that. Since they were willing to pick up the tab for USF, that's where I went."
"Smart decision. What about your major?"
Sam raised his eyebrows and shook his head slowly.
"Humanities." He paused for Jeff to say something. When no comment was forthcoming, he continued. "My folks, my dad especially, were dead set against that. But that's what interested me. And one of my profs said you should major in something you love. So I did."
"But . . . ?"
"But, like Dad said, when I graduated, I couldn't find a job. Nada. So I came home with my tail between my legs and went to work in the store. Which is what the folks wanted me to do all along."
"How do you feel about that now?"
Sam chuckled. "You sound like a shrink."
"Sorry. Just trying to get to know you better."
"Actually, I love it. I love the contact with people. We have a bunch of loyal customers who keep coming back for everything from garage door opener batteries to garden mulch. And they seem so grateful when I explain how to do something."
"Are you mechanical by nature? How'd you learn to do all the stuff you explain to them?"
"I learned it all from Dad. Growing up he explained things to me, handed me tools and made me do it."
"Sounds like a good guy to me."
"Yeah. Sort of. He thinks Nixon was a liberal, though. I can't talk politics with him at all. Mom's not like that. She just sort of keeps quiet and lets him sound off."
He took a swallow of his beer.
"Still, they were both great when I came out to them."
"Keep your voice down. I won't deny it when asked, but for the sake of the business I try not to broadcast it."
"Oh, sorry! But your folks were okay with it?"
"I think Mom was disappointed. But Dad surprised me, since he's such a political conservative. He said I should be whatever I was born to be and not to worry about it."
"They aren't religious?"
"They give money to the Catholic Church, but they only go on Christmas and Easter. Father Stefan doesn't know about me, so I don't get hassled and neither do they."
"You don't mind that I'm gay?"
"Why should I?"
"Well, I know your uncle and Buddy were, but you more or less had to accept them since they were family."
"The reason I spent so much time with Phil and Buddy was my folks hated me for being gay. Those guys gave me a safe haven and a pair of rôle models."
"Oh, well, good. I mean, I didn't want to assume . . ."
Just then their server came to collect their plates and ask if they wanted dessert.
"I bought something at Publix this morning called `Death by Chocolate.' Would you like to have some with me?"
"Yeah! I love chocolate. But first let's go take a ride in my baby."
The 4 4 2 had modern seat belts which Sam reminded Jeff to buckle up. They drove east out of town on a two-lane road that went straight for a while, then would make a sharp turn for no apparent reason, and then make a wide curve around a lake. Around several lakes, in fact. You couldn't go far in any direction without seeing a lake.
Sam demonstrated that the Olds was capable of more speed than the highway deserved and that the car took the curves well. He mentioned that a suspension adjustment was one of the improvements that had been made on the car. Breathless, Jeff was relieved when Sam slowed down, took a sharp right turn, and drove straight for about five miles, even though the speed was considerably in excess of the posted limit.
Soon they came to a stop sign. Sam turned right again, and Jeff realized that they were now headed back toward Lake Polk on four-lane Florida Highway 60. There wasn't much traffic.
Jeff was thrown back into his seat as Sam accelerated, demonstrating the torque the powerful Chevy engine was capable of. He maintained a speed of about 80 mph until they passed the Lake Polk Country Club and entered the city limits, when he slowed down to the posted 45 mph.
Soon afterward they pulled into Jeff's driveway.
"Wow! This is some hot machine, Sam. Thanks for the demo."
Sam grinned. "You didn't wet your pants, did you, Jeff?"
Jeff grinned back. "Not quite. But close." He didn't want to admit he'd gotten a hard on. And he wasn't sure whether it was because of the car or its driver. "Now let's go inside and have some dessert."
Sam sighed. "God, that's a lot of chocolate," he said, putting his paper napkin beside his plate. "You say that came from Publix?"
"Yep. This is a first for me, too. But I'm not gonna buy it any more for a long time. I can almost feel my belt tightening."
"Unlike feeling your sphincter tightening on that last curve on Kissimmee Road?"
Jeff laughed. "Okay, okay. I'm a chicken. So sue me."
"Next month, you bring the Auburn and you can take me for a ride. I won't expect you to impress me with its power."
"Deal. And speaking of Agatha, I have some questions."
"Maybe I can help."
"I suppose I could go online to look this up, but can you tell me something about Auburn? Phil's car is the only one I've ever seen and I've never heard anybody else even mention one. I watch the auto auctions on TV sometimes, and I've never seen one there, either."
"Oh. Okay. I don't know a lot. But let's see . . . ." He clasped his hands behind his head. Jeff admired his biceps.
"Auburn was a coach manufacturer in Indiana. They started making cars late in the 1800's. They did well in the early 20th century, sold a good number of cars, were a respected brand, until the Depression. Then, when things got tough, the company was bought up by the outfit that was making Duesenbergs and Cords."
"Wow! That's a pretty good combo, isn't it?"
"They turned out a lot of fine cars. Auburn was the lower end of their line. Agatha would have sold for about the same as a Dodge, but it was a hell of a lot better car."
"And maybe that's why they didn't make a go of it? Too much car for the money?"
"Yup. That was probably it."
"What else can you tell me?"
"Go on line. You can find out all sorts of stuff, as I'm sure you know. But be sure to look at pictures of the Auburn Boattail Speedster. That was a two-door coupe with the same front end as the sedans and the phaeton, but its rear end looks like the front of a canoe or a rowboat. That's the real collectible Auburn. Your car's worth a lot of money, but a Speedster in the same cherry condition is worth even more."
"Tell me about phaetons."
"I've never been quite sure why some four-door convertibles were called phaetons and some weren't. Chrysler made some gorgeous Imperials called phaetons in the late 20's and early 30's. Even Ford had a phaeton. I think one of the hallmarks was that the doors were hung on a center post, so the front doors were suicide doors. You know what those are?"
"Beyond that, I don't know. But I'll bet you could find out more on line."
"Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I'll check it out."
They chatted for another hour or so, getting to know each other. Finally, Sam stood and said, "Thanks for the dessert, Jeff."
"Thanks for the ride and for all the info. This has been a great evening!"
"Yeah. It has. I hope I'll see you before then, but you really have to bring the Auburn to the November show. It'll be the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I'll be expecting a ride afterward, okay?"
"Is there any paperwork or anything to bring Agatha?"
"Oh, that's right. You'll have to join the club. There's a nominal annual membership fee. And fill out some paperwork. If you have a problem, we can probably get the info off Phil's membership form. I'll ask Jack, our president, to send you the forms."
"That's Jack Cremeans, the guy with the Hudson?"
"Yeah. Did you meet Ellen, his wife?"
"No, I didn't."
"I'll make a point of introducing you next time. She's a sweetheart."
There was an awkward moment as Sam took his leave. Should they shake hands? Or a hug?
Without saying anything, Sam finally grasped Jeff by the shoulders and pulled him into a loose hug.
"Goodnight, guy. See you, soon, I hope."
Soon? Soon is good!!
"Yeah, soon, Sam. Thanks for everything."
They walked to the door.
He wanted to stand in the door and watch as Sam walked to his car, but he thought that might look a bit weird. So he closed the door.
He heard the deep rumble of the Olds' big V/8 engine as Sam started the car, backed out of the drive, and drove away.
From his breakfast table the next morning, Jeff could see that the bottle brush had a second red blossom on it. He thought perhaps it might soon be in full bloom.
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