I can't figure out how to get my so-called AC to work so last night was stifling and wearying. Didn't get much rest and then the AC at WORK wasn't working. And it got up close to 90, here. This is Texas weather, not New York. This kind of crap isn't supposed to happen till August and then only for two weeks...but here it is. And I've never liked the heat, much...even when it's a "dry" one. Where do I have to go to find consistent coolness? Antarctica?
So now I have two box fans going, one working in the window, and I let the office know about the AC and they can't get to it till tomorrow, meaning another hot night. And tomorrow the guy's not coming out till the afternoon to deal with the one at work...and so it goes and goes and goes.
Of course, Brendan hits Houston just as the heat is beginning and doesn't like it, at first. I wonder how that'll play out as he evolves into living there and finding a new life and new problems to face? Here's a snippet of some of his reaction.
It took me a week after that dinner to be able to even so much as climb the stairs without being exhausted, and days after that before I ventured from the house, and then it was only because Uncle Owen was working on his car. It had rained and the air was thick and wet, making it difficult to breathe, almost. I was lying in my bed, staring at the blank ceiling, drifting into my usual nothingness when I heard the engine chugging, outside. Over and over and --
-- Jeremiah O’Shea’s Cortina wouldn’t start on damp mornings and he’d had near everyone he could think of check into it, at no small cost to himself, until he let me look into it as Mr. Green's idiot brother made fun behind me but I found the problem and --
I bolted up then rose from the bed and went to the window. Uncle Owen was at the Volvo, under the bonnet -- the hood, as it were. It was a dark blue PV444 and looked like it had the twin SU Carbs to it. A clean-looking car it was but in need of a wash and maybe attention paid to the rust spots developing between the passenger door and front fender. The interior wasn’t quite as good of shape but wasn’t beyond saving, and from here the engine looked fine. But when Uncle Owen got behind the wheel to turn the key, I could hear it creak a little so lubrication was definitely needed and maybe topping off the shocks.
I stood there and watched Uncle Owen try to start the engine and it just chug along, working really hard to catch. Then he’d go back under the hood, unplug the spark wires and replug them and try again only to get nothing. Then he’d go back under the hood and undo other connections and redo them and try again. Over and over. It was comical, for he didn’t sit easy in that car.
I finally had enough of it and went downstairs and out the back door. The ground was still wet and sticky, and the air felt even more smothering without the house. I wore only my pajama bottoms, still, no slippers even, so the soaked grass tickled my feet.
“Having troubles?” I asked.
He jumped and looked at me as if I were a madman, which I probably seemed to him. “Brendan, what you doin’ out here?" he said in his slow Texas drawl. "You ain’t dressed.”
I only shrugged. “Would you care for me to look at it?” I said, motioning to the Volvo.
He shrugged back at me. “Does this every time there’s a fog in the mornin’. Then in the afternoon, it starts up fine. But I need to get goin’ an’ this is the only car left.”
I looked around and saw two dry spots where two cars had been. “When’s Aunt Mari due back?”
“Dunno. Guess I’ll just grab a cab. Lookin’ a buyin’ this bar in up in The Heights and the owner’s due at one. I’ll get it towed into the shop, later.”
In answer, I leaned over the engine and checked the cables. They were on the old side, probably original. Same for the coil and other wires. I pulled at it without gripping the glove and it nearly separated. “Try starting it, again.”
He shrugged and sat behind the wheel and the car creaked; definitely needed lubing but maybe not so much on the shocks. I pushed both ends of the coil’s cable against their gloves...and the engine fired right up.
Uncle Owen bolted from the car, startled. “What’d you do?”
“You need a new coil,” I said. “It’s coming apart inside the glove, so you can’t see it. Is there an auto supply shop nearby?”
“Up Shepherd. I can stop on the way.”
I nodded. “You might want to think about having all the cables replaced. They’re about due.”
“Damn, Brendan, where’d you learn that?”
“I’ve been at this since I was ten. Clocks, TVs and the like. Cars. Made extra money from it.”
“Your mother never told us.”
“She didn’t know, most the time. When I got on with Mr. Green, she thought I just cleaned the shop.”
“Didn’t you tell her what you were doin’?”
I nodded then headed back to the house, feeling sleepy. Uncle Owen let me go.
I fixed a sandwich from the wealth of food available in the fridge -- cheeses and luncheon meats and lettuce so crisp it could cut you and rich red tomatoes and something called Sandwich Spread all piled high on some brown bread that felt as light as a feather -- and found only a couple of Dr. Peppers chilled in the fridge’s door. I took one, opened it and returned to my room. I sat on the bed and ate, feeling very luxurious, and thoroughly enjoyed the Dr. Pepper; it wasn’t as sharp and biting as Coke. Then I dozed a little before rising, again, and deciding I was weary of having nothing on me but pajamas and around me but these four walls.
I took a long scalding-hot shower, letting the steam fill my lungs and wipe away the stickiness of the air, then toweled off...and had to towel off twice more, thanks to the combination of steam and humidity bringing out my sweat. No wonder they bathe every day and layer on deodorant here, I said to myself, if they didn’t they’d reek.