Rich and Joe patched up the differences they had at the county fair. Rather, it may be more accurate to say, they merely drifted back together and never bought up or tried to resolve those issues.
Peddling the bike to Joe’s house was a chore. The day was bright and windy. The oaks and elms in wooded areas next to the road swayed and bent to the wind like gentlemen bowing to a lady. Rich peddled the long stone driveway to Quinn’s garage. Two mighty oaks stood on each side of the single-car garage. Joe’s car was in the garage. Mr. Quinn’s car was under the oak that stood to the left. Mr. Quinn’s and Joe’s heads were underneath the hood of a ‘59 Plymouth.
“What’s going on?” Rich said as he approached on his bike.
Their house was a large two story that perched majestically on a rise. It had a large screened porch, extending the entire east side of the house, with columns reaching to the second story roof. Mrs. Quinn was very proud of their home. It was a grand house.
Mrs. Larsen and Mr. Larsen envied them, especially Mrs. Larsen and so did Rich. They seemed not to want. Mrs, Quinn owned a dry cleaner and Mr. Quinn was a plumbing contractor. They already put a daughter through college and Joe seemed to have it all and destined for success.
Mr. Quinn showed Joe how to rebuild an engine a year earlier. Mr. Larsen showed Rich how to tap a keg. That was the only time he ever saw his dad with a hammer in his hand. Rich wasn’t sure his dad knew which way to turn a screw.
“Hey there, Rich,” Mr. Quinn said with a broad smile. “How ya doin’?”
“I’m doing good, Mr. Quinn” Rich responded.
“We’re changin’ plugs,” Mr. Quinn said.
Joe stayed tucked under the hood until the sound of the ratchet stopped and his head popped out and he greeted Rich, “What’s going on Mr. Money Bags. I heard you really cleaned up on bailing for ole man Eversole.”
“Yeah,” Rich said, “we did pretty good. Are you having trouble with the Plymouth?”
“Nah,” Mr. Quinn said shaking his head. “I like to change my plugs every ten thousand miles and the oil twenty-five hundred. Ya do that and these cars will run forever.”
Rich nodded to agree, knowing that the only time Mrs. Larsen and Mr. Larsen had their plugs changed was when it missed so bad that it was impossible to go over thirty miles an hour and the oil was never changed. Rich didn’t think his dad knew where the spark plugs were, nor the location of a dipstick.
Rich remembered the time his dad sold an outboard motor boat engine, he was unable to start. He sold it to Uncle Ralph for twenty dollars. Uncle Ralph changed the spark plug and it started with one pull. He said the engine had to be overhauled so Rich’s dad could save face.
Mr. Quinn and Joe wiped their hands with a rag.
“I’m gonna take it for a drive,” Mr. Quinn said. He winked at Rich, “Best car you can buy is a Plymouth. They’ll outrun anything on the road.”
Mr. Larsen and Mrs. Larsen hadn’t had a good car since the early fifties when they drove a Hudson. Mr. Larsen hadn’t had a good job for several years. Since 1952 the Larsens drove a ’38 Chevy and then a ’56 Rambler. They were no match for Mr. Quinn’s ’59 Plymouth, Mrs. Quinn’s ’62 Plymouth, or Joe’s ’57 Chevy. Even Joe had a better car than Rich’s parents.
Mr. Quinn drove down the driveway onto the road and accelerated.
“Sounds good,” Rich said.
“The ole man really loves that car,” Joe said. “He thinks there’s nothing like it on the road.”
“Our ole Rambler will blow it off the road,” Rich said jokingly. That was the only way for him to deal with his feelings of inferiority and the Quinn’s assertion of superiority.
Joe laughed, “It blows all right.”
They sat on the steps of the house. A house much nicer than any the Larsens had ever lived. Joe had never been in the Larsen’s house. Rich never saw Mr. Quinn in their house even though Mr. Larsen and he did a lot of carousing together, back in the day. Rich thought that he should be ashamed of their home. The furniture was usually used and didn’t match. Their homes were apartments where sometimes Rich slept on a fold-out couch, instead of a bed. The move to the farm two years earlier gave him a room and a bed, but it still was not as good as Joe’s.
“How’s the car running?” Rich asked.
“Pretty good,” Joe said assuredly. “I’ve been thinking about trading it in.”
“What!” Rich said.
“Sure,” Joe said. “You don’t think I’m going to drive around in an older car than my Ole man’s, do ya?”
“What are you going to get?” Rich asked.
“A Pontiac convertible that I got my eye on,” Joe said. “In September they’ll be trying to get rid of the ’62s to make room for the ’63s, coming out in October. That will be the time to buy. How many juniors in high school have a new car? None at our school. Buying a Pontiac will send my ole man to the grave. He’d sooner me marry a black chick.”
“I don’t know how you do it,” Rich said admiringly.
“It’s simple,” Joe said. “You got to start with something to get something. I started with my self and that’s not such a bad start.”
“Why don’t we just crown yourself king?” Rich joked.
“I’ll settle for the president of General Motors,” Joe said. “And when that happens, I’ll give you a Corvette for your birthday. And the way things are going for me, it will be your eighteenth.”
“If bull crap were concrete you’d be Interstate 75,” Rich said.
Joe stroked his chin a few times and said, “You ever thought about buying my Pirelli.”
“No,” Rich said. “Is it for sale?”
“I don’t need it anymore,” Joe said. “I haven’t rode it since last fall. I took it down the road a couple of weeks ago just to keep her loosened up.”
“I don’t think I can afford it,” Rich said.
“How much have you got from working this summer?” Joe asked.
“I got sixty dollars so far,” Rich said. “But that’s got to go for school clothes and I’m saving for the fair.”
“You got some more jobs this year, don’t you?” Joe said.
“Some,” Rich said.
“Well, there you go!” Joe said.
“How much are you asking for it?” Rich asked with some tempered excitement.
Joe again stroked his chin, “Let’s go take a look at it and think of it as an investment.”
They walked to the garage. Rich started it up and went for a drive, about a quarter mile down the road. Mr. Quinn drove home from his test drive. Joe and Mr. Quinn stood together by the garage, as Rich drove the motorbike up the driveway. They were talking to each other, with their hands cupped over their mouths. Rich didn’t know why, the motorbike was too loud for anyone to hear and he can’t read lips.
“How do ya like her Richie boy?” Mr. Quinn asked with a big smile.
Rich smiled suspiciously and thought, “Richie boy, that sounds like he’s about to spring something on me.”
“What will you give me for her?” Joe asked again.’
“Give me something to start with,” Rich said.
“Fifty,” Joe said and looked at Mr. Quinn.
Mr. Quinn nodded approvingly.
“That sounds real good, but I got to check it out with my mom and dad,” Rich said.
“How ‘bout you and your mom and dad coming over tonight after supper, and we’ll settle it all up then,” Mr. Quinn said.