by Cal Sikstrom
A 1969 MGB Mineral Blue aluminum bonnet stands on my driveway with bright yellow circles around two big dents. PAUL is printed in the middle of the deepest one. My name CAL is printed in the other.
The van arrives to pick me up. A passenger door slides open and I settle in for a ride to work.
“What the heck’s that?” asks the driver. He points at my bonnet.
“Saturday was a lovely summer evening wasn’t it?” I said. “Would you like to hear a story?”
I offered Paul a ride. He is about a foot shorter than me. We aimed straight west out of town on First Avenue. My tires hummed sweetly as we headed out. Then the front end bounced wildly as I geared down on the washboard before the Primrose Highway stop sign.
I turned left. Noted the tubes were doing their job over the rough road surface and holding their air. Hard on the gas, shifting through first, second, and into third gear at 5000 RPM, when the hood catches came loose.
This had happened to me once before in Calgary. I was travelling much slower on a city street then, but this time the speedo showed 70 miles per hour. I began ducking, gearing down, and peeking under the widening gap between the hinges. Paul was sitting straight up not knowing that when the hood hits the windshield it would snap backwards and whack us on the tops of our heads.
I had managed to shift down to second by this time. The gap between the hinges allowed me to turn the car to roadside. Paul staggered when he got out. I felt a little dazed, too. We circled the car a couple times before setting to work.
I pulled my tool kit from the boot. An essential item to carry in an emergency. What to do? Our thinking was a little discombobulated. At last we figured it out. A half-inch box wrench was all that was needed, but it is an inconvenient truth that the headlights of an MG only point forwards. It was getting dark. Paul offered the solution: he lifted his shirt and by the reflected light of his pale torso, I removed the four hinge bolts. We lifted the bonnet off.
“Why is my dent deeper than yours?” he asked.
“It’s happened to me before,” I said.
“Never mind—let’s hide it in the ditch.”
“Someone might steal it,” I replied.
We drove back into Cold Lake at a leisurely speed. Yesterday we retrieved the bonnet. I circled the bumps with a yellow grease marker and set it up for you to see the miracle of a double header this lovely morning.
I say, “Two heads are always better than one, don’t you think?”
No one answers. The only other person, still awake in the van, is the driver.