Mr. Help. Dedicated to Joshua Seay

The truck wouldn’t start. Had gas in it. Checked the oil. Maybe it was the starter. He stood over the engine grabbing belts and fidgeting with screws.

His boy handed him a wrench. He tightened some cables. Told the boy to jump inside the beater and see what she does. Nothing. The young boy turned the key several times and nothing happened.

Ought to take a sledge hammer to it, the father said. Just beat the hell out of it, this made the young boy laugh. Think I should do that?, the boy hooped and hollered. Think I should just beat this thing to death?, he lit a cigarette and stood back from it for awhile. Go on inside and get us two cans of Pepsi, Dad said. Can you do that?, the young boy ran into the house as if he were on a mission.

Dad sat in the grass and decided to scoot under the pickup and have a look. His mind was preoccupied. Kept thinking of driving through town in the truck and his kid changing gears on him. He’d pop in the clutch and the boy would shift up. He’d do it again and the son would shift down; laughing the whole time. They couldn’t teach him much in school, but he knew this. He’d learned by watching Dad just when and where to shift. Dad called him, Mr. Help.

Mr. Help brought out the Pepsi. Waited for pop to come out from under the truck. Dad opened both cans and the two took long drinks from them. Let me try something, the father said. I’m going to flip these switches on the side here and you see if it starts, Mr. Help nodded his head. And like magic, the key turned and the truck livened up. It spit and it spewed, but it started.

You wanna go for a ride Mr. Help?, he laughed and nodded; slid over on to the passenger side. OK, let’s go, the boy shifted down with both hands. Thanks Mr. Help, Daddy said. Thanks. And the two of them drove through town on another Saturday. Both were smiling.

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