Did I really forget to insert this into chapter three?
The next afternoon, Lewis came by Stefan's, weary from his morning shift over the river at Gunther’s Crab Shack, where he had spent the morning preparing shrimp. He took every shift he could get, so he could catch his part of the light bill and still squirrel away something for his trip.
He hoped to hang out with his sister for a little bit. She treated him to some of her onion rings, and their conversation drifted to local bands. She could see how tired he was, and knew he still had a couple miles’ walk to go. She was rather proud of how he shouldered these things without complaint. It was too bad their father wasn’t a bit more sure of car repairs, or the two of them would have his brakes repaired already. She thought he’d be better off fixing it before he left, but she forgot to mention the suggestion. On the other hand, since she was busy there until evening, she wanted to do him a favor.
“Why don’t I let you borrow my Corsica?” she offered. “Just drive back up here after you get some rest.”
“Denise, you are a gem,” he said, hugging her. “That’s really nice. If I had slept more last night I would…I can barely talk anymore. Sure! I’d do the same for you.”
“You have, before,” she said. “Just be careful and be back by five, okay?”
Gina was returning some menus a few minutes later, when, beside the hostess stand, she heard a loud scraping noise and a bump out in the parking lot.
She took a look out the door. Two of the cooks, Pete and Bud, were already walking from the kitchen entrance, where they had been taking out cans of trash to later convey to the dumpster.
Pretty soon, all seven of the Stefan’s employees on hand had assembled around the burgundy red Corsica. Its front wheels were perched over the yellow parking stop, suspended above the place where the parking lot dropped away a few inches above a graded gravel area. The chagrined driver was straining to get the car loose, to no avail. The frame was wedged on the block.
Chuckles broke out beside the weary Lewis, who stood flabbergasted beside his sister’s car. He wanted to laugh, too, but he saw the furious look on Denise’s face. Dixie wanted to spare them both from gales of humiliating laughter, but their faces just made it twice as funny and she nearly wee'd her pants. Music still blared from the speakers inside, so he reached in and shut it off. He had simply shifted into drive when he needed to reverse.
Gina smiled, and felt her depression wash away for the afternoon. There was simply no way not to laugh about the helpless auto or its sheepish driver…if “driver” was the word for it.
She stepped over to his side, tray still absent-mindedly in hand. She knew how it was to space out, though not after cranking the car. She gave him an affectionate squeeze. “Lord help him,” she purred, “he’s just a man!”
It was hard to say if this made him feel a little better and if that was enough to counter the further embarrassment. No pothole outside Stefan’s was big enough for him to hide in. He scowled while faced away, then smiled weakly at her after the hug.
With a few minutes of rocking, Lewis and the cooks got the car off the parking stop. There were a few scrapes on the under carriage. The car ran fine without further incident. Fortunately, this gave him a chance to drive away.
That night, Bud accidentally tipped a baked potato over the edge of a plate he prepared for Martin. The fully-dressed spud hung there precariously.
“Hey,” said Pete, “look, it’s Denise’s car from this afternoon.”
The cooks had a good laugh, and Gina, standing near by, smiled again at the entire memory. Someone had to tell Martin about his girlfriend’s car and its cliffhanger episode.