Note: This story will appear in my upcoming collection Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, and that’s why I’m posting this teaser. However, it has already been published in “Kindle” format, and there is a link to that below, in case you cannot wait for The Cabinet to be published*.
HOLE FOR A HEART
Jonathan Lama drove west along Interstate 80 on a warm, late spring day, headed for Chicago. His journey was at least partly an excuse to test the recently purchased ’97 Mustang convertible he drove. He was not a true car aficionado, but he liked the Mustang, and he had a good friend, Rob Gardner, who was a mechanic and lived near him. When Jon had told Rob that he was looking for a second car and had found the Mustang for a very good price, Rob had all but offered to go in halfsies just to have the chance to work on and restore it. Rob plied his trade only part-time—and under-the-table—since a severe back injury had left him both eligible for disability benefits and honestly unable to work a full schedule. He was, however, good at what he did, and after much effort and a fair amount of additional expense, he pronounced the car ready for long-distance travel. All the remaining work was cosmetic.
So far, Jon had no complaints about his friend’s efforts. He’d previously only driven the Mustang around central New Jersey, where he lived. In the beginning, it had ridden rough, and the speedometer had malfunctioned, making Jon nervous every time he took it out, though it had been easy enough to match the speed of traffic.
Now, the speedometer had been replaced and checked and was working as it should. The engine ran powerfully on all eight cylinders, and Jon could barely tell that he wasn’t driving a brand-new car, at least based on those criteria. The interior still needed a lot of work, and the car’s paint was noticeably faded, but Jon had never disagreed with Rob in prioritizing functional issues. Continue reading