“Ooooh, Baby! I gotta get you home with me, tonight…”
Charles loved his classic R & B jams. Sunday afternoons spent tooling around the bike while the iPod cranked out old soul grooves, always put his mind at ease. In truth, days like these always reminded him of a time where things weren’t so complicated in life. They were times spent with his Dad, in the old garage.
Momma used to play old school Motown hits, all day on Sundays when Charles was a kid. It was really no wonder he grew up retaining his love for classics of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Sunny skies, warm breezes, the smells of engine oil and exhaust, the sounds of Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder; ah…how they all combined in a sort of chaotic symphony that always seemed to sooth the soul.
“Have you seen her? Tell me, have you seen her”.
Oh yeah. Modern-day music lacked the creativity and passion of the old tunes. Harmonies were tight; vocals were crisp; the instruments were live; the music made you want to spontaneously break into a choreographed spin. The music spoke of love and good times; none of the ‘bang-bang; kill-everybody’ of today’s lyrics. Dad used to spend hours tinkering around the old ’68 Charger, while he bobbed back and forth to the grooves wafting through the open windows of the old house. Those songs would resonate off the neighbors’ brick walls, instantly transforming the backyard into a concert.
“Betcha By Golly…Wow. You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for, forever”.
Standing next to the bike, eyes closed, taking in the music and the memories, Charles could almost smell the lingering exhaust fumes of the Charger’s pipes, after Dad had fired the ignition. Earth, Wind, and Fire began to pump through the speakers of the little bookshelf mini-stereo set up on a high shelf in his own garage. Charles was instantly taken aback. He remembered the 8 track player, Dad used to turn up in the old hot rod; EWF’s “In The Stone” was always Dad’s favorite 8 track tape.
Momma’s Sunday chili; he could almost smell the spices floating around the backyard, as powerful as they had been some twenty-three years ago. The old tunes were able to take him on a journey back through time, effortlessly.
“I’m gonna miss you…I can’t lie…”
For a moment, Charles stepped away from the Suzuki GSX-R bike, as he sailed down memory lane.
“Hey Chuck, pass me the big flathead son.”
“This one Pop?” little Chuck asked while holding the big blue screwdriver over his head. He’d ransacked the middle pullout drawer of Dad’s ancient steel toolbox, looking for what he figured was the right tool for the job.
Dad chuckled while he wiped engine grease from his fingers. Charles could remember the look of that dirty, grimy old green mechanic’s rag. He wondered if it had ever seen the insides of a washing machine.
“Nope, that’s a Philip’s. See? Look at the cross head. The flat head you want has a flat tip.”
Lil’ Chuck sifted through the endless pile of screwdrivers, both Philip’s and flatheads, before locating the big flat heat with the bright red stock; Craftsman etched into the handle.
“This one, Pop!” Lil’ Chuck announced triumphantly.
“This one Pop,” Charles said aloud, as he opened his eyes and glanced at that very same Craftsman flathead screw driver with the red handle, held loosely in his own grease covered palm; It’s color dulled by a lifetime of gear-head work. His wide smile transformed into a sparkling grin, as he recalled his Dad’s proud look as lil’ Chuck had walked toward him holding out the screwdriver.
“That’s the one, son. Craftsman’s the best. My lil’ guy’s gonna be a wrencher like his old man!”
“Craftsman’s the best.” The little guy repeated.
“You got it, Chuck.” Dad said, as he ruffled his son’s hair.
“…the tears of a clown…when there’s no one around”.
Charles looked skyward into the clouds. A lone tear slid down his left cheek. He took in a deep breath.
“Craftsman’s the best, and so were you. I miss you, Pop.”
He turned his attention back to the Sport Bike, as a young Michael Jackson crooned “Never can say Goodbye” through the speakers in the garage.