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S.D. Grady

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Member Since: Jul, 2007

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Fixing Up the Summer
By S.D. Grady
Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Recent stories by S.D. Grady
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Duct tape, depression and a little imagination result in a new beginning...

I stood stock still. My head shook vaguely, my eyes blinking. I tried turning around hoping that it would go away when I looked again. Nope. Still there. I took a breath hoping something would come to me. I hoped in vain. I’m afraid I rather looked like a fish, gaping soundlessly.

Well, this was embarrassing. I really liked Joe. His invitation to fish and chips at Kelly’s was just the thing on this oppressive summer day. The monotony of the season was depressing. He said he would drive. I simply had never given a moment’s thought to which car was his in the parking lot of our condo complex.


I blinked. Joe’s head was poking over the roof of his car, his long brown hair tied neatly in a pony tale.

“You gettin’ in?”

I nodded, trying to plaster a sideways grin on my face. “Uh…yeah.” I took another step towards the nineteen eighty-something sedan. My hand reached out to open the door. I hesitated. I just couldn’t bring myself to touch it.

Joe’s hazel eyes still grinned at me across the roof.

“Could I ask a question, Joe?”

He shrugged. Our conversations over the summer had encompassed every subject under the sun. Clearly he couldn’t imagine I would ask anything shocking. “What?”

“What is this?” I gestured towards the vehicle.

He didn’t hesitate. Still smiling he replied, “It’s not what you think.”

My hands gestured expansively at the side of the car. A giggle escaped my lips, “Actually I don’t even know what to think, Joe.”

It was absolutely, well, odd. The entire car was encased in tape. Duct tape, to be precise. Color was not apparently the goal. Silver, black and brown tape mingled in formless stripes. I stood up on my tip-toes and glimpsed the roof. It continued there, too.

“Get in,” he smiled. He disappeared into the car. The passenger window rolled down.

I bent over. “Not to suggest anything, Joe. But, like, is it safe?” I prodded the door panel with a finger. The metal did not yield. “I’m not gonna fall through the floor or anything, am I?”

He laughed. A warm, deep chuckle. “Just get in.”

I tightened my hold on the strap of my pocketbook, gave the car a final thoughtful gander and climbed in.

Joe pumped the gas pedal a couple times before he turned the key. The engine sputtered into life.

“Is this what you drive to work?” I pictured the ratty car parked among a lot full of shiny Acuras and Saturns at the office park where I worked. I kept shaking my head.

Joe was silent until we turned onto the highway before answering. The engine took a few moments to wind up to speed. “I haven’t brought it ‘round to the shop yet. But maybe I should. Normally I just ride my bike.”

He drove with one hand on the wheel. The other rested on the shifter. I sighed. Some days I wished I had followed a simpler path. Joe clearly hadn’t given a thought to his apparel when he asked me to go to the beach. His jeans showed evidence of his work as a house painter. His shirt was fresh, the tie dye pattern vivid and wild.

I tugged at my hair, tucking a strand behind my ear. I knew my low-rise jeans were wrinkle and stain free. The blue tank I pulled out of the dryer when Joe stopped by the condo. Why did he hang with me?

“Actually this is an experiment for the summer.” He wiggled a bit in his seat.

“It is.” I’m sure I still looked lost. I felt it.

“Uh-huh. I’m going to the Summer Sizzler at Parklands next week. I’m taking the car with me.”

The Summer Sizzler was only the biggest concert of the summer and Parklands was the perfect place for it. The outdoor concert venue seated over twenty thousand. It would be crazy! Tickets had sold out in under two hours when they went on sale in April.

“Cool!” I replied as expected. I thought for a moment. “But why take the car?”

“That’s the experiment.” He looked at me, still smiling. “I’ll show you when I get back.” Next he asked me what I thought of Mrs. Nelson’s bikini when she sunbathed every morning on the patio. I mostly forgot about the car, except when I had to get back in it on the way home.


A knock sounded on my door. I sighed. “Survivor” was on and I just had to know who was getting voted off. I dragged my feet to the door as I looked at the TV over my shoulder. Without looking, I opened the door.

“And the eighth person to be voted off is…”

My hand was grabbed as I was jerked out into the hall. “Hey!”

“I thought now would be a good time to show you the car,” Joe said as he hauled me down the hall towards the exit.

“I was doing something!” I complained.

“Don’t tell me you were wasting your night on that reality crap again,” he teased.

I gave a token resistance. My mind was already distracted. Joe was wearing a pair of cut-off jeans that hung off his hips in a manner that grabbed my complete attention. No shirt was in evidence. Then I gave a moment’s thought to myself. I sighed. Oversized t-shirt and sweatpants simply didn’t measure up.

Joe kept walking out into the parking lot, headed to the dark corner that he hid his duct-tape experiment in. I caught a glimpse of the car. I stopped.

I’m pretty sure I was repeating my performance of two weeks ago. Why, why, why did I always act like a complete moron in Joe’s presence?

The car sat in a ring of light. A set of worklights illuminated the vehicle. The ragged ends of the tape gave it a tortured, ratty appearance. He tugged some more at my hands.

“You can’t see it all from here. Come on!”

Slowly I approached. Something was different. A myriad of colors swam on the body, etched randomly over the canvas of silver, black and brown. I squinted, now drawn to something truly unique.

A bottled fizzed. Joe handed me a cold beer. “What do you think?” He stood with his hands in his pockets, rocking back and forth on his feet, his gaze focused on the car.

“It’s wonderful!” It was the only thing that applied. Every inch of the car was covered in wild pictures, rude comments, sweet wishes, and on the windshield a ticket. “How did you do it?”

“I took a set of markers with me to the concert and drew the emblem on the hood,” he gestured at an ornate peace sign painted in psychedelic colors, “And before you knew it I had someone ask me if they could help.”

My fingers traced an exquisite sketch of a sunset. Next to it was a demonic dog, a symbol of a local band. “What’s the ticket for?”

“A Statey felt the tape would fly off at speed creating a safety hazard,” Joe shrugged. “I thought it a good addition to the thoughts expressed.” Joe looked sheepish.

“Hey,” I walked to him. His eyes met mine. My hand rested on his cheek. “You are incredible.”

He was right. This summer wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. It was dazzling.

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