Author’s Note: I have a bunch of links today. I made a reference guide with a few pictures.
I put the song in Kabobbles Sing Along.
I think the rest speaks for itself. 🙂
“Here,” Mackenna said, pushing the door open the last little bit and stepping back to gaze on the two beauties hidden behind it. She couldn’t help smiling. Seeing the antiques always made her happy, though she didn’t know why. Maybe it was because this was where she’d first met Mac, out here tinkering, and those two grills had seemed kind of spooky looming out of the garage the first time, but then when she realized what they were and Mac had her working on them, she’d found something she hadn’t had since her uncle died. Peace.
Rebuilding Scarlet’s transmission had put a lot of her back together, and she’d always be grateful for that. She’d never let that car go, even if the other one was her favorite. Shadow had been in her family since the beginning, more of a member of it than she was, but somehow it let her feel like a part of the family, its second seat making it possible for her to go on the antique car runs with her grandparents and share those memories.
She shook her head. Since when was she nostalgic? She wasn’t.
“So. Two Maxwells. What do you think?”
“I don’t know what to think,” Carson said, walking toward Shadow with a bit of awe in his voice as he did. “So… this is what Phantom would look like if it was in better shape?”
“Well, Shadow is unrestored, yes, but this one’s a HC touring car. Phantom’s a messenger. Mac said I told you wrong about the year, and I should have known better. It’s more similar to the runabout, more like Scarlet over there.”
“Oh. That threw me off. Phantom has doors.”
She nodded. “Yeah. It’s a bit different from a runabout, seems to be a bit rarer from what I’ve seen, I’m not an expert on them. Mac is. He shook his head at me saying 1909. Said it had to be a ’12 and I should have known that.”
Carson shook his head. “I wouldn’t have known, either. I didn’t even known Maxwell was a car company before I opened up that door and saw Phantom sitting there. I don’t know what to think of any of it. These things… well out of my reach, I guess, other than the one I somehow inherited.”
She couldn’t help a smile. Educating him about the cars might just be fun. “I’m going to enjoy this. Have you ever heard of the mother-in-law seat?”
She laughed. “I’ve always gotten a kick out of that. Remind me to show you that song, too. And her mother came, too… Okay, I can’t sing, but I’ll dig it out. I heard it on a movie, and ever since, it’s been connected for me. They also call it a rumble seat or a dickey seat—that’s a British term—but the idea’s the same. It’s just an extra seat, unprotected. Probably originally intended for servants, but not necessarily. I haven’t done all the research into them. I just get a kick out of calling it a mother-in-law chair, especially after the song.”
Carson managed a smile. “All right. So it’s just an extra seat.”
“It could have been a tool rack, but yeah, you could put a chair there. Drag the mother-in-law along behind you.”
He shook his head. “I guess that might be tempting if you didn’t like her much. Not that anyone would have to worry about it with me. Or with you. No mothers left, right?”
“Exactly.” She didn’t know why they both grinned when he said that, like it was a good thing that both of their mothers were dead. It wasn’t. Not really. She forced her eyes back to the car. “So. Now that you’ve gotten a better look at these babies, what do you think?”
“Do they actually… run?”
“You bet your ass they do.”
She looked behind her, wincing. “Sorry, Mac. I just… I’m defensive when it comes to my babies. They’re the only children I plan on having, which is kind of screwy when you think about them being over a hundred years old each.”
“Very disturbing,” Carson said, a frown on his face. She reached over to ruffle his hair just for the hell of it and flipped back the latch on Shadow’s hood. He needed to see what it was like to drive in the cars, and since Mac was out, they needed the touring car with its back seat. She was not making Carson sit on the toolbox. “Where are the keys?”
“No keys, not back then.”
“Couldn’t someone have… stolen it then?”
Mac lifted the magneto switch out of his pocket. “Not likely without this, and just because they might have got it started didn’t mean they knew how to drive it. It’s not like them fancy ones today. No getting behind the wheel and letting it do all the work.”
“Come here,” she told Carson, letting her grandfather start the oil drip. “Normally, they’re be more prep to this, since the car would have sat for a while, but we took her out last week. Swap meet with the Horseless Carriage Club.”
“There’s a club?”
“There’s a lot of clubs. You don’t have to own a car to be a member, but some of them have fees, so you’d have to keep that in mind.” She pulled him over. “You ever started a car using a crank?”
“Be careful. It might kick you.”
“Push the handle in, hold it there. No, don’t let it out,” she said, trying to show him how to do it. “You have to keep that part held in as you turn. Go clockwise, and yank it up. Start down, pull up. No, let go there. If you push back that way, it’ll break your arm if it kicks.”
“This is a lot harder than it looks.”
She laughed. “It takes some getting used to. They used to cheer for me when I managed it. Especially since I seem to lose all credibility the minute I’m out in that crowd. Girls don’t know cars, can’t possibly drive one of these…”
Mac grunted. “She can. Should see her on a run. Does it all in a dress.”
Carson looked at her. “You wear dresses?”
“Only once a year. I get into the costuming. It’s fun.” She couldn’t help being amused by the look Carson gave her. “Yeah, I do. It’s just a lark, but I like proving them all wrong. Women weren’t sissies, not even back then. You know four women drove across the US in 1909? A woman named Alice Ramsey was behind the wheel all that way. She did her own repairs, even wrote a book about it.”
“You know what? We should go. All of us. To the run. One of Mac’s favorites is coming up, and we always go, even though he threatens to quit going each year.” Both of the men were looking at her now, and she shook her head. She wasn’t crazy—even if the idea of getting Carson in anything close to vintage clothes was probably impossible. “It’s a great idea. We borrow an extra trailer, take Phantom along, and then we show her off.”
Carson frowned. “In her state? She’s a mess.”
“Yeah, but the people involved in the run have done it for years in many cases. Some might be new, but it’s not exactly a club that everyone joins. A lot of people don’t get this sort of thing, and some of them don’t have the money for it. They might recognize Phantom on sight and know who sold it to your grandfather and when.”
“I don’t know.”
“Other than trying to find out who in your family owns a handgun—which might not tell you anything even if they did depending on where they keep it; anyone could have removed it and killed your father and then put it back or they got rid of it years ago—the car is the only lead you have. Even just the right year could help you start unlocking all that stuff in your head.”
He shrugged. “Maybe.”
“I bet you’d look good in costume.”
“Mac has a spare duster, and you could just wear it. You wouldn’t even have to give up your socks. No one would know.”
“Say you’re going, and I’ll stop teasing you about it.”
“Fine. Fine. I’ll go. Okay. Happy now?”
She gave him a smug smile, enjoying her victory. One thing she liked about Carson—he was a lot f fun to tease. He made a good surrogate brother, didn’t he? She was fine with one of them. She didn’t need anything else, but she could use a friend. Everyone could, and other than Mac, she hadn’t had one of those in a long time.