Author’s Note: So normally I don’t do things like this, but I thought I had to, under the circumstances. Most of the time when I think of dedicating a story to someone because they inspired it or helped with it, I just find something to say at the beginning, but since everything I know about Maxwells and antique cars is from my grandfather and I borrowed his cars for Mac’s but Mac is not my grandpa, I figured that Grandpa had better cameo in the story.
So he did. Love you, Grandper. 🙂 And, yes, Grammer, you’re in there, too. 😛
“First of all, if you don’t meet everyone, that’s fine. One person you have to meet is Bob Long. He has got two Maxwells, just like Mac, and he’s also one of only two people who has done the New London New Brighton run every year. He’s a bit like Mac—not that much—and his wife Mary should be along. She’s always with him,” Mackenna told Carson as they walked to the back of the restaurant, a bit worried about how quiet he’d been all the way into the city. He didn’t seem to be much better than when she’d found him staring off into space in his room at the farm.
The idea of his grandfather betraying him like that had screwed him up good, and she wished they had some concrete way of disproving it. She didn’t really believe it, and she didn’t think Carson did, either, but that nagging doubt would continue to bother him until he had all of his memories back.
She reached out to touch his arm. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, I am. I’m just… me.”
She shook her head, nudging him over to the table. “Mac’ll be along in a minute. He’s being overly cautious with the Airstream again. I told him we should have brought the Woodsman, but he didn’t want to hear it. So, this is Carson. He’s probably going to end up joining the club because he just inherited a 1912 Maxwell Messenger, and you’ll love this—no one in his family knows where it came from.”
“Welcome,” one of the younger members said, rising. “I’m Simon. My wife is usually here with me, but one of the kids is sick tonight, so she stayed home with them. Rick there is the club president, and that’s his wife Patrice. Mary’s the secretary, she always does the minutes, and that’s her husband, Bob. Bob’s a Maxwell man, and you might just want to ask him about yours because his father used to own a dealership. In fact, I believe he sold at least one of Mac’s Maxwells to the family.”
“He did. The 1908. The 1911 came from a drifter in the thirties. Not as cool a story as the one about getting Bob’s Maxwell back for the price of a case of beer.”
Carson frowned. “You’re kidding, right?”
“No,” Bob said, shaking his head. He quirked a small smile, one of his signature ones, and Mackenna pushed Carson into the chair across from him. This would help, a lot, maybe. Bob was too young to have seen the car the day it was sold or anything, but he might know of old records or have his father’s tales to help with their search.
“Here,” Mackenna said, taking out the photographs she’d done of every inch of the car. “We figure the car’s been in Carson’s grandfather’s barn for about thirty years, maybe a bit less than that.”
“Well, at least twenty-two years, yeah,” Carson said, fidgeting. “That’s as much as my memories can narrow it down, if it is connected to something else, which we think it is.”
Simon frowned. “Something else?”
Carson coughed. “Um… My father may have been murdered, and um, the car might have been around when that happened.”
“And no one in your family knows where it came from?”
“Well, now, that’s no good,” Mary said, and Carson nodded. He reached for the water glass, and Mackenna almost regretted bringing him here. Maybe there were answers here, but maybe not, and he was so uncomfortable he looked ready to run. “Don’t you have any way of knowing for sure?”
“Well, we think I was there, since I have… nightmares and a few flashbacks, but I was eight, and I must have been so scared I blocked it away. Later, some of them came back, and they searched the farm for a body, but they didn’t find anything. I didn’t even know the car was there until Grandpa left me the contents of the barn in his will. Mostly it was scrap metal, but then it was… that.”
“Phantom.” Mackenna smiled at the looks she got. “I’m the only one who names the cars around here. Well, and I think Bob’s granddaughter named one of his, but he doesn’t use it.”
“Oh, so you’re the oddball in among all the car nuts?”
She laughed. “Yeah.”
Carson smiled, looking a bit more at ease now that they were teasing each other again. She nudged him with her shoulder, and he pushed her back. “Why didn’t you name the Airstream, then?”
“I’m not allowed to use it.”
“So you won’t even tell me what it is.”
She looked up as her grandfather walked into the room. She shook her head. She couldn’t tell Carson the name, not now. Maybe later, when Mac wasn’t around. He hated it, and if she’d known how much it would bother him, she’d never have started using it. As it was, she’d been forced to go back to Airstream just to keep the peace.
“I see she got you looking at the pictures already.”
“Boy’s got quite a story.”
Mac grunted. She knew he was still bothered by her connection to Carson, but she wasn’t going to stop helping him just because her grandfather had the wrong idea about them or even just about why she was doing it. “Have we already ordered?”
“Should be coming soon.”