Author’s Note: This scene has been reworked a couple times, changing it from what it was. I originally had a discovery about the car made a lot sooner, and so this is the second version where I backed it off a little in the hopes of developing the plot more naturally. I thought I’d try sharing some actual writing, even if this is something I wrote a while back just haven’t really been able to continue.
I did share some of this story before, just not this part of it, which I should have as it’s the first scene.
“And so when I saw that picture in the paper, I figured that you were the best person to bring this to,” the woman said, and Mackenna tried not to grimace as she spoke. She did not want to think about what picture had been in what paper, since all the stories had exaggerated the situation and made her into something that she wasn’t. She didn’t want to have to explain the truth right now, either.
She should just be glad that it meant more business for her, but she wasn’t sure that she wanted it, not like this. She used to think any publicity was good publicity, a way to create a foothold in a profession dominated by men, but what happened a few months ago had changed her opinion on all of that. She ran her hands over her arms, hoping she still had a few more weeks before fall settled in. She would need them if she was going to do this. “I’m not a miracle worker, Mrs. Brendt. I may not be able to do much with this, even if it looks to be more or less intact. You can see that there was damage done to the frame here and here, and beyond that, there’s a good deal of rust. I believe this car sat outside for a very long time, though some of it could have been from a leak if that roof was in poor shape. I’m really not in a state to make any promises here.”
“It’s Dorie. Or Dorinda. Leave off the Brendt as much as possible. One of these days, I’ll get it all switched back to my maiden name, but I haven’t quite managed that yet.”
“Oh.” Mackenna hadn’t realized that the other woman was divorced, and she was almost tempted to hide the ring on her own finger after that statement. Not that she’d had anything to do with Dorie’s marital troubles, but she didn’t need to be flaunting the fact that she was a happy newlywed, either.
“Sorry. You wouldn’t know. It’s… It’s still a bit of a sore spot for me, him leaving me for a girl that’s barely out of high school, and there’s an unkind part of me that figures that he doesn’t want them any older than that, since that’s how old I was when I fell for his crap, but I’m not sure why I’m telling you this. I’m afraid my mouth runs off when it gets started.”
Mackenna smiled, tempted to laugh. She was reminded of someone, and at the same time, she had to wonder if she brought this kind of reaction out in people, since Carson had been a lot like this when he pulled into the farm with his car. “It’s fine, trust me. I just want you to understand what we’re looking at here.”
“You mean besides a wreck?” Dorie laughed, pulling back the loose parts of her hair. “I can see that much for myself, but since I’m on the preservation committee and getting this car appraised is not only a part of my job but might mean something we can use either as an investment—the car would be worth a lot more repaired if the repairs are feasible within our budget—or as a part of the exhibit they’d like to create from the site where it was taken. I’m not sure we can accomplish either of those things, but it’s a shame to see an old classic like this just shoved away in the nearest junkyard.”
Mackenna nodded. “I hate seeing any cars going to the junkyard.”
“That’s not true. You let my car go there without any tears. You couldn’t wait to see that thing go,” Carson said, coming up behind her, and she turned back to him with a smile. She tried not to let it turn into a frown. From the expression on his face, the job hunting was still going badly, and he looked like he’d just as soon crawl into bed than spend any time with her or Mac tonight, but she’d see if she could cheer him up after Dorie was gone.
“That thing was a menace. It wasn’t even worth what you paid for it the first time,” Mackenna said, wrapping her arms around his waist. Maybe it was a good thing it was almost fall. He might be all sweaty if it wasn’t. “I didn’t hear you pull up.”
“The Woodsman died three miles back. I walked the rest of the way.”
“Oh.” She didn’t need Dorie hearing that. What kind of mechanic couldn’t keep her own truck running? Mackenna forced herself not to think about that and kissed his cheek. “Why don’t you go get cleaned up and rest your feet for a bit? Dorie and I have a few more things to discuss about her car here, and then I can heat up dinner.”
“If it just needs to be heated, I can handle that. You’re the one with the job,” Carson said, shaking his head. She knew they’d have to have another conversation about that later. She didn’t subscribe to the idea that the man had to be the breadwinner, and she didn’t think he did, either, but he was getting paranoid about not pulling his own weight. “You go ahead and take as long as you need.”
She put her hands on his face. She didn’t like that tone at all. “Don’t tell me more of them were idiots about this thing with your dad. Come on, that’s ridiculous. You know that you’re not responsible for anything he might have—”
“That’s not what they care about. Still, it’s not like the rest of my family were exactly… honest in that matter, either, so that doesn’t help. On the bright side, you can have me as your shade and water boy and all that while you get to work on this one.”
She shook her head. “As much as I love having your company while I’m fixing the cars, it’s not right that they won’t hire you. You’d be great at it. You’re over-qualified for most of these positions anyway.”
“It’s a recession. They want the excuse to not to hire me because they would have to pay me more. Or something. I’m going to head in and shower.” He kissed her cheek, and she sighed as she watched him walk away. She didn’t understand this world sometimes. Carson was a good man, and he’d be a good worker, but someone always found an excuse not to hire him. She’d do it, if she could afford to pay anyone else, and if he knew anything about cars. Without that, it was kind of pointless. She would keep teaching him in the meantime, both her and Mac would, but she didn’t know how much of a difference that would make.
She turned back to Dorie. “I’m sorry. I didn’t even introduce you.”
“I figured that was your husband. I saw the papers. That must have been a beautiful wedding.”
“I should have decked that reporter,” Mackenna muttered, shaking her head. She hadn’t thought their wedding would end up near the front page or that it would get into the associated press because of the rest of the stories about her and him and his father’s murder. Some of the stories were all about the way they’d dressed, and others exaggerated her role as the heroine again. She’d ripped up most of the ones she found, but she knew her sister-in-law was keeping a scrapbook of all that nonsense. “I’m going to get the forms real quick. Just sign them, and you’ll be good to go. You can leave the car with me for evaluation, and I’ll give you an estimate. I do charge for the evaluation, though.”
“Naturally. That’s not a problem. I’ll sign whatever needs to get signed. I still think you are the right person for this job.”
Mackenna forced a smile and hurried off to get the forms.