As Rivkah sat in her car waiting she could hear a distant rumble. It was getting louder and louder. Then the noise stopped so she continued to sip her coffee and nosh on her treat. Then as she sat passing the time she heard a loud horn. The sound was so loud and abrupt she literally leaped out of her skin spilling her coffee. Then she looked in her rear view mirror and saw nothing but a gigantic bumper and part of a massive grill.
Frightened by what she thought was a moving truck she frantically tried to start her car. She began to fumble with the keys and cursing in Hebrew nervously.
“Oy Vey, I’m going to be crushed like the glass at Morey’s wedding”
The car would not start but she still was struggling with the key when she heard a tap on the glass. She looked out the window and saw this tall hulk of a man dressed in western attire, clean neat and had nicely trimmed hair mustache and mutton chops. The man was smiling as she rolled down the window and he said in a calm voice;
“Are you Rivkah? I’m Maverick and this car is a smoke bomb. When you passed me all I saw was smoke. Looks like rings to me”
Still a bit confused she asked;
“What, what are you talking about?”
“The engine, it may be smoking because your piston rings are shot or it could be the valves. Pop the hood and let me take a look-see”
She opened the hood and Maverick stuck his head into the engine compartment. He was there for a few minutes when Rivkah got out of the car and joined him in the front. He looked at her shaking his head. She asked;
He began to explain what the problem was when another truck pulled up along side his rig. It was an ugly yellow Cab Over truck with duct tape on one of the fenders. Rivkah and Maverick just looked at the truck as the driver jumped out of the cab. He was a portly man wearing shorts and his shirt was stained with food. He was unkept and had a foul smell about him. With a sinister look in his eyes he said;
“So this is the gal who joined out parade eh. Boy you’re a cute little thing. Looks like you scored Maverick but do I get a finders fee? How about a little kiss for ole Stacy…”
At that moment Maverick stepped out from in front of the car and in-between Rivkah and the vulgar driver. As Maverick got closer it was obvious Maverick was taller and more than this rude driver wanted to cope with. Maverick put his arm on the guys shoulder and politely asked him to walk around the trailer so they could “talk”. The two of them disappeared behind the trailer. In a minute or two both came out from behind the trailer. The portly driver had a different expression on his face as he approached Rivkah and said in an intimidated voice;
“Miss, I would like to apologize for the statement I made earlier. I was out of line and I’m sorry”
Still not sure what to make of all this Rivkah accepted his apology. Then the driver looked towards Maverick and said;
“Are we square Mav?”
With a quiet nod of his head Maverick acknowledged the groveling remorseful drivers query. In an instant he was back into his truck and in a few minutes he was clean out of sight. Turning towards Rivkah Maverick continued his conversation;
“I think you blew a head gasket since you have oil in your water and the side of the motor is covered in oil. I checked the fluid levels and found that you don’t have any oil left in the motor. Did the engine make any weird sound?”
“Yes it did as a matter of fact. When I pulled into the truck stop the motor was making a loud hammering sound. Why, is that bad?” she said.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think your motor is toast. You’re lucky you made it over the hill”
Resigned to the fact her car was dead in the water she pondered her fate;
“Oh my, I was not ready for this. I’ve traveled so far and now I don’t think I will make it to Littleton. This has been such a bad trip, I should have stayed home”
Maverick offered a suggestion;
“There is a garage on the other side of town that is very reasonable. They do emergency road work on Big Trucks and they don’t charge an arm and a leg. If you like I can give them a buzz”
At a loss for any direction of her own she replied;
“I don’t know anyone here, and I am 200 miles from where I need to be. Umm, OK give your friend a call, if you don’t mind”
Then Rivkah began to cry.
“Oh geeze, it’s not that bad. Surely your people will understand if you are broke down. I’ll tell you what, let me give Phil a call and see if he can get you in early and check out your car”
Calming down she agreed then he made the call. After a few minutes of chatting he turned his attention to Rivkah who was lost in thought. With a hint of satisfaction he told the stranded motorist;
“I got some good news and some bad news. I’ll start with the good. Phil’s coming down with the tow truck to haul you into the garage, that’s the good news. Umm, the bad news is Phil can’t get to your car till tomorrow at the very earliest”
Unconsciously Maverick looked at his watch catching Rivkah’s eye. Knowing she must be taking up to much of his time she said;
“Well I don’t want to take up anymore of your time. But I want to thank you for helping me. I really appreciate it. I would not have found a good mechanic to fix my car and…….”
She began to whimper as she came to the reality she was stranded with a broke down car. She was starting to feel very alone. Tugging at Mavericks heart strings the seasoned driver pulled out his cell phone and made a call then looked at Rivkah and said;
“Well, I passed on the load in Fort Morgan. I want to make sure you’re OK before I pull out of here”
Just then a tow truck pulled up and a saintly older man with white hair jumped out of the truck.
“Mav, how the hell are you? I haven’t seen you in a coon’s age. How is the ole Pete running you old sun of a gun?”
The man reached for Mavericks hand to shake it. At that moment Maverick grabbed Phil and gave him a big hug and said;
“Hey pop, it’s so good to see you again. It’s been a while eh”
The old man retorted;
“I’ll say, it’s been at least three years I’ll bet. And you’re looking fit as a fiddle, not bad for an ole gear jammer like you. Is this the filly who’s broke down?”
“Yup, sure is Phil, I told her you was the best in the west” Maverick said.
“Well, let’s take the car to the shop and see if we can breathe some life back into her. You going to stick around and visit for a while or are you going to head back out? You really need to take a break if you’ve been doing what I think you’re still doing”
For a moment Maverick’s expression turned to a look of sadness. He paused then replied;
“You know I can’t lie to you Phil. I’ve been hammering it ever since, you know”
The two old buddies hooked the car to the wrecker. Maverick looked to Rivkah and said;
“Well, I’ll follow you to the garage”
With that statement Rivkah and Phil piled into the tow truck and off they went to the garage. Maverick and his shiny Peterbilt were right behind them.
Phil was a kindly man with a very good heart and Rivkah felt very safe. With curiosity she asked him a question;
“What were you guys talking about back there? What was Maverick hammering or whatever?”
The jovial demeanor disappeared from Phil’s face and he began his oratory;
“Maverick is one hell of a guy but he has not gotten over loosing his wife and kids about three years ago”
Knowingly Rivkah responded;
“Oh, I get it. His wife and kids left him since he was always on the road huh. I heard a trucker’s life is hard on relationships. It’s too bad, he seems like a nice guy”
In a fatherly voice Phil continued;
“Well you’re right; a trucker’s life is spent in the cab of their trucks. Many drivers only spend a hand full of days at home a year while spending the rest of their lives driving, delivering and picking up freight. But that’s not what happened to Mav.
You see, about three years ago his wife and kids were on their way to meet him in Grand Island Nebraska. They were going to spend a week with him on the road since they used to travel with him when school was out. While they were on their way to meet him a car driven by a drunk driver plowed into the side of Mav’s wife’s car. The car burst into flames according to witnesses who tried in vane to rescue them but they died in the fire. Some idiot video taped the accident scene. It was bad news since you could hear the kids and Marge, his wife, screaming in the burning wreckage.
Well, Maverick was at the truck stop waiting for his family. While he was at the truck stop he got wind of a fatal accident down the road. He did not think much about it since drivers see many accidents all the time on the big road. So poor ole Mav waited and waited and waited no Marge and the kids. He called his house, nobody home. Then as he was walking out of the café a roll back tow truck drove in. The truck had his family car or the burnt out hunk sitting on the back. On the floor of the wrecker was the burnt remnants of a stuffed teddy bear with his son’s name on the tag.
The tow truck driver had the video and was going to turn it into the state trooper’s office since someone handed it to him at the scene. Somehow Maverick got hold of the video. It was bad enough he found out the hard way his family was killed but the video let him watch his family burn to death. He heard his kids crying for their daddy, their little arms flailing in the molten mass and flames and his wife plead to G*D to let her die. It was to much. I don’t know how anyone could just tape something like that. I got physically sick when I saw the video.
Me and my son drove out to Nebraska to get Mav and his truck. He was in the police station. He was not arrested or anything. He was in protective custody since he was so grief stricken. Suicide watch or something. For a moment there I thought he was never going to pull out of it. He was cat, umm, catt something”
“Do you mean catatonic?”
“Yeah that’s the word catatonic. The poor guy loved his wife and kids very much, they were his world. He used to take November and December’s off so he could be with his family for the holidays. He used to call it “Quality Dad Time”. Summers you’d see the cab of his Peterbilt filled with his family. They traveled everywhere together for 3 ½ months in the summer. I never saw such a close family like his. They would come and visit us, do laundry and stretch their legs, than off they would go.
We brought him home with us and for a while we thought we lost him. It was one of the saddest things I ever witnessed. He looks good now, like he used to before the accident. But he was nothing but skin and bone. If it were not for my grand son who was 5 at the time Maverick would be dead I believe”
Emotionally torn by the sad tale Rivkah asked;
“Why, what did your grand son do?”
Taking a deep breathe Phil told Rivkah;
Maverick was in the basement bedroom. It was the safest place for him we thought since he could not leave the house without us knowing. Well Mav was almost gone; he was dying little by little since he was starving himself to death. There was no way we or the doctors could snap him out of it. And I was not about to let them take him to the loony bin, course it was getting close I have to admit. Well he was always like an uncle to all the kids in our family and he’r become part of the family over the years. His wife and kids were our like our own as well. So we were hit pretty hard too, but not like Maverick.
Then one day my grandson Joshua managed to get downstairs and into Mav’s room. Don’t know how the little poop butt managed to get down there either. But anyway he crawled into Maverick’s bed and said, “Please uncle Maverick, please don’t die, we love you too” or something like that and while we were watching TV Maverick’s emaciated body managed to make it up the stairs. Little Joshua was yelling “Uncle Maverick is back, Uncle Maverick is back”. We ran to the stairwell and sure as shoot’n there was that ole snuff skeeter crawling up the stairs. And there was Joshua helping the ole boy out.
Gawd, this is hard Rivkah. When I looked down at my buddy he looked up to me and said, “I’m really hungry”, it was the first sensable thing he said in months. As it turned out we fattened him up a bit. Then he hit the concrete sea and has been on the road ever since. All he does is drive Rivkah, all he does is drive. He has paychecks he had not cashed in his sleeper. All he does is pay for fuel and tires and a few groceries. I know he is still running from himself but at least he is healthy other than that. If you did not break down when you did, I might not have seen him for another three years. All he does is just moves cows to market”
With tears in her eyes Rivkah was overwhelmed by the story of her rescuer. It struck a core of her being. Then Phil added more bit of information;
“If you ever get a chance to get in the cab of his truck, there is a locket of hair from each of his kids and his wife’s he has on the sun visor. It’s the only possession he cares about. That stupid tape is in the cubby of the sleeper, I know because I’m a nosey old fart and I poked around the truck before he left. Man, that was over three years ago. Oh, and if you look at the back of his sleeper there is a painting of his wife and kids on it with a caption, They are in heaven and in my heart”
As Phil wheeled the tow truck to a halt, Maverick pulled his rig along side the wrecker and tooted his horn. Out of the back of the house next to the shop several women and a flock of kids ran outside. They were excited and were yelling Maverick’s name. It was a reunion of sorts as they surrounded his rig. People were hugging and embracing him as he jumped out of the truck. It even appeared the dogs were excited to see him.
Rivkah watched as this giant of a man grabbed three kids at a time and give them a big hug. Kids were even holding his legs and the hounds wagged their tails like windshield wipers. The elder woman, Phil’s wife, burst into tears and grabbed Maverick like he was her long lost son as she wept in Maverick’s arms.
With tears mixed with a catty smile the elder woman said;
“I ought to hog tie you to the barn you crazy SOB. Where the heck have you been? I know I know”
Maverick and the old woman said in unison;
Maverick looked at the old woman up and down and said;
“You’re looking younger every day Betty”
She faked a scowl;
“You are such a liar Maverick, some things never change. You are going to stay for dinner, you know that”
“Yes, Yes, Yes, how can I resist your sweet potato pie, besides I can’t walk away from a free meal?”
Betty turned and said to Rivkah;
“And you young lady are staying for dinner as well”
In a semi whisper Betty asked Maverick;
“And who is this beautiful young lady Mav, hmmmmmmm?”
Slightly embarrassed he said;
“Oh ah, it’s nothing like that Betty she is the stranded motorist I brought. Her car took a dump at the truck stop and I referred her to Phil, that’s all.”
Still looking at Rivkah Betty retorted;
“I like her, she has kind eyes. Maybe it’s time for grand ma to play cupid”
Turning beet red Maverick felt like he was standing buck naked at a church social. All of a sudden he wanted to be invisible. Then Betty went on;
“Rivkah sweetie, Maverick is our highway guardian angel and a good catch I might add. He needs a good woman and shut up Phil, I know what you’re about to say”
Phil looked at Maverick then Betty and finally Rivkah then said;
“I’m keeping out of this one”
Totally embarrassed, Maverick was at a loss for words. He turned slowly to see Rivkah’s reaction. Then he noticed Rivkah was smiling and looking directly at him. Still suffering the open fly syndrome, Maverick wished he could find a rock to crawl under. Then the younger woman said;
“She is a looker Mav”
Thinking to himself he mumbled;
“Somebody shoot me”
Betty called everyone into the house and the crowd obeyed the matriarch of the family and started shuffling inside. The smell of home cooking was wafting in the yard. Paralyzed with embarrassment or fear Maverick stood there hoping to find a graceful exit of some kind. But where on Earth could he run to. Then as the last of the family members made their way back into the house Maverick felt someone grab his arm. It was Rivkah as she lovingly put her arm around him and said;
“Hey Big Strapper, lets have some supper”
Creativity is the byproduct of a fertile mind