Something Went CRASH in the Night
When we investigated the noise, it was Love at First Sight.
“Mine,” I said quickly, before the others had a chance to focus on it. They were still bleary from just having waked up, and I was alert, having been sitting at my computer adding esoteric cuts to my iTunes library during a bout of my regularly scheduled insomnia.
Des and Rich looked at each other. Rich shrugged. Des sighed and turned back toward bed, remembering to tug Richard along with her almost as an afterthought. “It’ll be hard to find the parts,” George commented. Then he scratched and yawned and followed them.
The next morning it was still Love. It was an ancient school bus, the humorously short variety, so old that it was barely still yellow. The trip over the ridge hadn’t hurt it much. It had landed on its side, but a little maneuvering with a chain and Rich’s wrecker and it was upright. It was a little lopsided, maybe, but it was upright. It was also off the Chrysler it had landed on.
Probably the best thing about operating a graveyard for cars was the fact that as soon as someone gave us their castoff, it became part of our inventory. The customary way for us to add to our collection was for someone to call us to haul away their heap of a wreck because it wouldn’t run and repairing it wasn’t worth it. We had to pay them a token amount for the value of the scrap metal, but we deducted the price of Rich towing it away.
Occasionally, though, someone just pushed the offending thing off the cliff on the north side of the car yard. However we acquired the inventory, it was ours to do with as we pleased. Normally Des would list each part still attached to the vehicle and enter it into the computer. There were special exceptions, though. George would pull some of the parts that were in high demand, but mostly just harvested bits and pieces for his garage and body shop. Some inventory was sold for the scrap metal.
The demand for parts from a 40-something year old school bus had to be practically nonexistent. As long as it could be made to run – and I had the utmost confidence in my brothers’ ability to make anything run that was motorized – this would be a free ride. Insuring it and fueling it would be the only cost to me.
Within a couple of months, the guys had it running and Des and I had it decorated. Richard had offered to paint it inside and out, but I liked the spotty yellowish shade the bus had become over its years. He covered the metal shell of the interior in a gleaming off-white that coordinated well with the latter-day hippie-type tapestry fabric I used to upholster the seats. Desiree and I carpeted the floors in a tasteful off-brown. George had made some of his creative modifications to the engine, which was now more fuel-efficient and quieter than when it had first been built. The automobile industry could learn a lot from my taciturn brother about mechanical improvements.
My one concession to interior modification was to remove the original student seats and install sleeper benches gleaned from a couple of RVs and a custom van. Oh, and the refrigerator, which George kindly hardwired into the modified electrical system. After all, what’s a road trip without liquid refreshment?
Next installment… Where shall we go?