Author’s Note: The accident Mackenna talks about was a real one that happened in Minneapolis, years ago on the New London New Brighton antique car run, near the end of it, and the car was destroyed. The driver lived, I believe, but I don’t think he was ever able to drive on the run again.
“Go ahead and laugh,” Carson said, shaking his head at the wreck he’d driven into the yard. Mackenna would have if the image wasn’t so painful. She didn’t know that she’d seen a car in that bad of shape since that antique Oldsmobile was crushed off the interstate. “You should.”
“How is that thing still on the road?”
“I honestly don’t know. I put gas in it, and it runs, so I drive it. One of these days, it’ll just die on me, and then I’ll look at my bank account and realize I still don’t have enough for a new one, and I’ll sit down with a six pack and try not to cry,” he said, giving the car a push. The suspension shuddered, and the front fender fell off.
“How did that happen?”
“The fender or the rest of it?”
She shook her head. “All of it. Or maybe I don’t want to know. I’m not sure. You seem to collect wrecks, don’t you? This and Phantom—at least the other car is worth fixing. This one is only fit for the junk heap, and I say that as a talented mechanic who used to think she could fix anything.”
“I see. So you can’t fix everything? I’m so disappointed.”
She laughed, shaking her head at him. She didn’t know how he’d managed to do it to her again. She couldn’t believe she was friends with someone who could drive a car in that kind of state. “Are you sure this isn’t… a prank?”
“I wish. Some jerk ran the light right in front of my apartment building, skidded right across the corner, and plowed into my car, knocking it onto a fire hydrant. The car was stolen, they think the driver was drunk, but since they never found him—or her—and so I never got a payout from their insurance. Mine tied it up in red tape, so I’m stuck, can’t afford to do anything to it.”
She nodded. “At least it wasn’t you, right?”
“This time, yeah.”
She sighed. “Not that again. Just because you might have done something does not mean that you have to act like everything that has ever gone wrong is your fault. Look, if you did kill your father, I have to believe that you were… defending yourself. Think about it—you were a kid. You were too young to fight back whatever might have been going on. If you were threatened, you did the only thing you thought you could.”
“You don’t even know me.”
She shrugged. “You’re the first person I’ve liked in a long time. That has to mean something. I don’t usually trust people, so why you?”
“I have no idea. Maybe because I look helpless… I’m kind of a mess, right?”
He was. Maybe that was why she liked him so much. He wasn’t much of a threat in his state, and she preferred it that way. She also knew he was kind of… dependent on her. That made their relationship a bit unbalanced, but at the same time, it made her more comfortable with the idea. She had the power so, she was okay with that. She couldn’t get hurt this way. That was important, what she needed because she did not get along with people. They weren’t like machines, like cars. Cars had parts that went together in a predictable order. People were always changing, and when they changed… They tended to hurt the people who thought they knew them.
“Maybe if you fix Phantom, I’ll just drive it around.”
“I think it would be safer than that wreck,” she said, shaking her head. “I can’t let you drive home in it, that’s for sure. Why’d your grandpa leave your brother the truck when your car is such a mess?”
“He didn’t know. We… We hadn’t really talked much before he died.”
“Sometimes, you just lose touch. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”
“I think I should have bought that six pack after all. This is getting kind of… awkward, isn’t it?”
“Let me show you where to put your stuff. We’ll see what happens after that.”