Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Late Years Six

The Late Years Six December 9, 2018

For Al Curtis

In the early days, he worked for Wayne Combs,
who had a place on Franklin Street, then out
in rural orange County. Al took over Wayne’s
business when he moved back to Elkin, up in
the mountains, so I always went to Al, and he
would go out of his way to help me. If possible,
he would let me wait in the shop while he did
repairs or changed the oil. He’d check the tires,
and he’d repair only what was necessary, and
let me pay over several months if I needed to.
He helped me find another car when my blue 
Plymouth with a new transmission got totaled.
Then I drove a gold Chrysler Lebaron for ten
years. My Russian friends called it the “dleenaya
machina,” the “long car,” when I drove up
in it. When it needed replacing, Al sold me his 
own mid-sized dark green Dodge Dakota truck,
and I still drive it. He fixed everything, except
the engine. One of his friends prophesied
that the engine had another ten years on it.
It has a new used fuel pump, a new radiator 
and other parts, but though with its rust spots,
it’s not beautiful, it goes. We chatted some
about politics or weather.  I took him 
some eggs, a loaf of bread, or fig preserves
sometimes. He told me, when he was having eye 
problems He used a little flashlight to help him
see. On recent visits he had lost weight, and
the last time we talked, in mid-November,
he said he couldn’t do the inspection this
week and sent me to Sturdivant’s. I know
now that he was even then suffering from the 
cancer that killed him, but I couldn’t have
told. He also advised my son Tim where he
could buy a radiator for his truck for little
cost. Until Randy called, I didn’t know what
I had lost. In my Rolodex, under Al Curtis, ;
I have the words: ‘My faithful mechanic.” 
For more than twenty-five years, he took care 
of my cars, and for fifteen, my truck. Few
 people in my life have been so trustworthy. 
Al was a linch-pin: steadfast, honest, reliable,
true to his word, a good friend to those who
saw him clearly and valued what they saw.

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