After Alvin I needed to recharge. I wasn’t at risk of shutting down, but I had gone on reduced power mode. It was like the old me being exhausted, Just running on very low energy, It was such a short drive back to the Downtown House that I didn’t bother plugging in.
When I got back to the house, I did plug my ass in. I did it more to recover quickly than anything else. I also knew no one was going to be stopping by unannounced. At least no one who knew me. If anyone else showed, it was very likely that they wouldn’t be telling anyone what they had seen.
After forty-five minutes I was ‘top of the world ma’. That being the case, I began thinking about the cruiser. If I took it to a dealer in the morning, I would have to take to Tryon. I checked with my built in Internet connection and found that the closest dealer was twenty five miles away. That drive was filled with heavy traffic. The bike was doable, but it was also very dangerous. I might be titanium and steel, but I was still no match for a two ton car.
I decided to call around Aster before I spent the whole day sitting in a dealers showroom. I needed someone to recommend one of the small repair shops to me. I passed the time until 9AM watching the news of the world, and reliving in great detail some old memories. I even ran some old TV shows.
At 9AM I called the only person I could think of who might know someone. “Blevins,” the voice on the phone said.
“Blevins, it’s me Maxine. I need someone local who can work on the Cruiser,” I admitted.
“What’s wrong with it?” he asked.
“If I knew that, I would buy a set of tools and do it myself,” I replied shortly.
“You sure as hell need to work on you people skills twit.” he did laugh though. “Do you need it towed?”
“I got it home last night, but it acted like it was running on about half it’s cylinders, but I think I can get it somewhere close. That is just a guess though,” I admitted.
“Okay if you need a tow call Buck’s Towing. He is on the police list of approved wreckers. We use him all the time and he is straight up honest. As for the work, best I can do is give you the name of a guy who came up in a homicide investigation last year. He has been working on my cars since. I get a big discount. You won’t get it, but tell him I sent you. It might help with mine,” he said honestly.
“Okay, who is the mechanic.” I asked.
“Everybody calls him Deacon Burke. Don’t let the name fool you, he is a hard living dude. He is young by our standards, but he has been around the block. He ain’t cheap, but he is honest.”
“Okay, give me his address?” I demanded. I didn’t need a phone number since there was no reason to call around. I couldn’t use the cruiser as it was and I didn’t care to go round and round with mechanics.
“You really should call him. He has a small shop and sometimes it takes him a while to get to your car. Be sure to tell him that you are a friend of mine. It might not help, but it can’t hurt.”
I made the call and of course the man on the phone said he couldn’t tell me anything without bringing the car in. “I can’t even look at it till after lunch. You can bring it in anytime before noon and I’ll call you when I check it out,” the young sounding man said.
I decided to deliver the car before I went to Helen’s for my social time. I forced myself to go there every morning despite the fact that I didn’t need to eat. I did it to prevent becoming a hermit.
Deacon Burke was a very black, black man. I was pretty sure he could run his linage all the way back to Africa without a break in the gene pool. There was something to be said for that. I also saw a number of certificates on his wall. Burke had taken some first rate tech school courses. That didn’t make him a better mechanic necessarily, but it make him ambitious. There was a story somewhere in his being a small town mechanic with all those certificates.
“So, when do you think I will know what’s up with the woodie?” I asked.
“I got to finish that Explorer I was working on, when you came in first. It’s going to be after lunch before I can really check it out. From what you told me, it could be a bad plug or something much worse.”
I knew better than to comment. “Well let me know as soon as you find something,” I said walking about.
“Hey you that TV lady ain’t you?” he asked.
“Well I do own a TV,” I replied smiling.
“Well it fits, they told me Blevins was a friend of a TV star. What you doing driving a piece of shit Chrysler?” he asked.
“It was what I could get when I needed it in a hurry, I have had two of them the first one gave me no trouble in almost two years. I have had this one two months and now it’s in the shop. So we will see if it is a piece of shit or not.” I said.
“It is,” Deacon said with a smile. “But you brought it to the man who can turn chicken shit into chicken salad. Of course miracles ain’t cheap.”
“Before you reinvent the car, give me an estimate,” I insisted.
I rode off on the bicycle with him watching. Since I didn’t want the attention that flying down the badly paved street would bring, I rode away slowly.
I ate, I walked, and I recharged my power circuits and still I didn’t heard from Burke. I got tired of waiting so I got on the bike and rode by the shop. At least the hood was up on the Cruiser so I pulled into the yard.
“So what do you know?” I asked.
“You have distributor trouble. It’s the why the engine isn’t firing right. I been calling around trying to find you one. Best I can do is from the dealer in Tryon. If I rebuild it you are like at three hundred bucks. If I install a new one you can double that.” he said. It could be worse you could have blown the head gasket driving it like that.
“Truthfully which will last the longest?” I asked.
“If I rebuild it, the one I do will last longer and give you better service. I ain’t no fucking robot. I’m gonna assemble it right.” he said. Since he didn’t know that I was a robot, I let the slur pass. It would probably be like me saying something about black men being shiftless. Except that I knew he was black.”
“When can I get it back?” I asked.
“Tomorrow end of day is gonna be the soonest. Even that depends on whether I can find a kit in town or not.”
“Keep me informed. Is there anything else the cruiser needs?” I asked.
“Complete tune up and a brake job wouldn’t hurt. That is just based on the mileage though. I didn’t look at the brakes or the plugs. They might have been done already,” he admitted.
“Check and see, if it needs those do them at the same time.” I said.
“Okay, Since you are a friend of Blevins, just add a hundred each. That is if I have to do the other things.” he said.
“Wow what a fucking deal,” I said.
“If you can get it cheaper, I can just fix the distributor and push you out the door,” he said.
“Don’t act like you doing me any giant favors Deacon. You might not be charging me full price but I know you can buy those brake parts for well under fifty bucks. The tuneup is nothing but four spark plugs and a couple filters these days. Some chain operation or the dealer my charge more but you are charging me what it is really worth. Especially since you are working from a backyard shop.” Is said it without any malice just factually.
“Well lady tell you what I’ll put your car back together and you just take it someplace else for the rest of it.” he said.
“Suits the fuck out of me,” I said losing my temper.
“You want to have it towed someplace else for the distributor,” he said.
“Fuck no, you tore it apart, you put it back. And if you think you can fuck over me, think again. I got one hell of a lawyer for assholes who think I am a pussy.” I said it really losing my temper. That robot thing must have bothered me more than I thought. I have no other explanation for why I acted so crappy.
“I’ll get your parts and have this piece of shit ready to go by noon tomorrow,” he snapped as I rolled the bike out of his garage.
“Good,” I said.
As I pedaled back to the Downtown House, I thought about the black man working on the cruiser. There was no doubt that I could kick his ass, but why would I? He had done exactly what I would have done. He tried to justify his price, then when I called him on it, he said take your piece of shit somewhere else. I would have done the same, so why was I pissed.
It wasn’t Deacon as much as I was just irritable about the whole, nothing getting done shit. I needed to accomplish something. In other words I was bored and spoiling for a fight with anyone. I better back off or someone was likely to give me a fight.
I pulled the bike to the side of the rode then said, “Yes,” into the phone.
“Maxine it’s Timmie, we need to talk,” the manager of the Cloak and Dagger suggested. She wasn’t as much manager as caretaker of the place. If we needed a manager, I would just close the damn place. It was supposed to be a kind of lodge, not a business.
“I’m about five minutes from the cloak, are you there now?” I asked.
“Yes, I an,” Timmie replied in the Irish brogue.
“Then hold on I’ll be right there,” I suggested.
“Now Timmie, what the hell is going on?” I asked a few minutes later, when I entered the basement of the Drugstore Condo.
“Someone came in last night asking questions about you,” she said.
“What do you mean someone came in. This is a private club how the hell did a stranger get in here?” I asked.
“He came in with Simon the Israeli,” she said.
“And this man wanted to know more than Simon could tell him?” I asked. “So what kinds of things was he asking?”
“They seemed harmless but he wouldn’t stop. After fifteen minutes I stopped answering. He asked me if you have a boyfriend or if you were involved with a woman maybe.”
“Well that’s not too bad,” I stated.
“He wanted to know how long I had worked for you and if I knew about the shooting. I explained that I didn’t know anything. That all happen before I came to work here.”
“So he wanted to know about my love life, then he wanted to know the details of my getting shot in the back. Strange combination I would say,” I suggested.
“I think he might have been a cop,” Timmie said.
“Why would Simon the Jew bring cops around?” I asked.
“He is probably still connected with interpol. Most of the guys who come in here are still in the business, just not active any more,” Timmie said.
“If you see him again point him out to me. If I’m not in, suggest that he give me a call,” I suggested.
“That’s one of the things I wanted to know. Should I give him your number?” she asked.
“Hell yes,” I said, “Maybe he is a stalker. I always wanted one of those.”