A very hard choice. Part 3

So...

The next morning I woke with a start...

Whaaa?

But

But

But...

Okay fine,

Yes I'm grumbing!

Not much happened last night really...honest...

Why are you looking at me like that?

So Ari and I, for you grammar police, left the washroom / ladies room / fancy ass washcloset that looks nicer than my house. There was a big fanfare and sign..

Yeah right. There was an older lady wearing a fur around her neck and more makeup that a makeup counter has at those old box stores. I would like to say she gave me the evil eye or something. Instead she just brushed past us without a care. Like it was the most normal thing in the world. A GUY, aka me, just came out of the LADIES room, and she acts like it's normal.

Alright maybe, just maybe, I was still a little on the anxious side about going into a forbidden place. Can you blame me. Ari, of course, just had a smile on her face like a kitten finding spilled food on the floor, food that was on the counter a minute before. You've seen that. Growls at you if you move your hand near the food? Okay whatever.

I followed Ari back to the table to find, surprise surprise, that our table for three got expanded and now held three others. Hanz sister minus the white coat. Greg, and a new lady I had never seen before of mixed heritage. I say mixed because while the eyes look sorta asianish. Skin is sorta tannish. And yes I suck at english, live with it. This must be the A. or Astri.. assistant to Greg. That or he is having an affair of some type. Seems to be a sort of game that the filthy rich love to play with each other, and spouses who know full well what is going on but pretend, quite well, that it doesn't.

Maybe I read a little too much.

There is two chairs available. One beside Greg and one beside Hanz. Ari, of course, takes the one beside Greg, who is a gentleman and pushes her in. Hanz gets up to help push me in as I approach. Before I even attempt to sit down I scootch the chair over away from Hanz. He finds it amusing. In any other setting I would swat him.

Oh hell who cares! I take a swipe at his arm anyways. He dodges it and I realize that it was way too much in character for a girl. I blush and look down.

They all start talking about how this would look good like this at the store, and so on and on. Really it was quite boring for me as I had no clue what they were talking about. I couldn't even look at the tv screen, which was now behind me, to relieve my utter boredom. I didn't get a chance to ask about the jeans at all. They were all really into these ideas and stuff, some paper was pulled out and some scribbled drawings were made.

I sat there with my hands in my lap trying to keep my knees together even though nobody could see them, and I guess I sort of dozed off at one point. I awoke to find all of them looking at me with those, I caught you smiles, on their faces.

"Uhm sorry."

"Quite alright dear. This must be terribly boring for you." Translation. Are you that stupid?

"Perhaps we should call it a night. I'll be round, say ten, and we can go over the renderings I made, along with some of these changes, and see how well it would work." Ari states. It's not really up for argument or anything.

Astrig, so I have found her name to be, hands a bag to me with something about they were in the warehouse so give them a good wash. Not sure why, are they used? After that we call get up. The ladies, including me, do the air kiss on cheek thing, while the girls do little pecks on cheeks.

I just shook hands, why it made both Greg and Hanz laugh is beyond me. Hanz had paid the bill with a card of some type, it wasn't the normal gold or blue but black so I had no idea what it was. Probably a club card of some type.

Aside from almost falling asleep on the ride back with a fair sized bag at my feet. Shopping bag, not another suitcase. He helped us out just like before, walked us to the door for some reason I haven't the foggiest idea why. I just unlocked the door with the key and walked in. Ari followed complaining that i was being rude. I was too tired too care, and told her so.

She took my bag and sent me off to wash up. I don't remember too much after that to be honest.

I woke with a start. I'm so used to sleeping on my couch that waking up in a bed is startling. Not a bad thing really but still startling. This was made worse as I am not a sharp cookie in the morning upon waking. The nightgown and boobs freaked me out a bit but an insistent bladder took precedence. I even sat down on the toilet and let go while examining how my chest had swelled overnight. It wasn't till I saw the seams that the previous days events came back to me.

I did say I was slow in the morning.

I sighed, I had agreed to be a sister, hopefully just a week. I didn't know why it was so important to Ari. I was sure that, eventually, she would explain that. I mean why would she keep a birth certificate for a sister that died so long ago. So many little things. Like how she called me Leanna. I was sure she thought of me as a girl most of the time as well.

I got a shock when I looked in the mirror. I was all set to apologize to Ari before I realized it was me. That was another thing. I look way too much like Ari. If we really were siblings it would make sense. I know I didn't know who my parents were, but still the chances of meeting someone that looks exactly like me is scarily low. I know they say, the 'experts' that when you think about it, nobody knows who they are. Right back on track . They, I can't help think of white bearded men with bow ties and pocket protectors and huge thick glasses..where was I? Oh yes.. They say that everyone has a double in the world. So, I guess, it is possible....maybe...

OR maybe we should run screaming from this house all the way back to mine and hide...while looking nothing like myself...with boobs...crap.

I shuffled into my room head hanging, almost dragging my feet on the nice soft..inviting carpet.. I wonder....

"LEANNA!" I jumped in place at the scream..

"Whaaaa.. is there a fire?" I rolled over. I guess I fell asleep on the carpet afterall. It really was that comfy.

"I found you out cold on the carpet. What do you think? Are you okay? Do you need to see the doctor?" she was all over me in a second feeling my forehead. Checking for I don't know what.

"Calm down" I put my hands on hers." I just noticed how soft and comfy the carpet felt. I guess I fell asleep on it by accident."

"The what?" She put her hand down on the carpet.

Next thing I knew we were both lying on our sides on the carpet in nighties giggling at how comfy it actually was. It was absurd who would make a carpet feel that good. Ari said something about good for slumber party, at least I think she did. It was almost a whisper.

She slammed her palm against the floor. "Right time to get ready!"

"Do I have too?" I MAY have whined.

"You get started and I'll get your jeans and new tops out of the dryer."

"Fine!" I reluctantly got up off the floor. I knew what she meant by get ready. Mascara, lipsmear., and powder stuff. I had taken off the mag earrings last night and put them on again. It pinched my ears a little. Then I selected some underwear. I chose black. One of the tops we got last night was black with rhinestones spelling out "Girlie girl". Id skip that one. The next suitable was a red top. I hoped she got that one. Apparently cockroaches loved to lay eggs in clothing so it was a must to wash and dry everything in hot water with lots of soap. I had just got done with that infernal device called a bra when she came back into my room. The red top was there but no jeans.

"Uhm Sorry Lee.. The dryer didn't work properly. I used an iron to dry this one for you but the rest are still wet. I have them hanging to dry but it will take most of the day." she said sheepishly.

"What the hell? That's a brand new dryer!"

"I know. I'll call them about it after I get ready. I have a lot of work to do today."

"But ...what do I ..."

She rummaged in one of the lower drawers and pulled out a denim skirt. It had a faded hem and a red belt that was all crisscrosses. At the buckle part was a brass hook thing like all belts. I pulled it on after some grumbling and she put my hair up into a simple pony tail before she almost ran into her room.

I wondered about footwear. In the closet was these little boots that matched the belt in color. I say little because they didn't come over my ankles very far. They had a very small heel, pointed toe and were made of a leather of sorts. Surprisingly they were not that uncomfortable. The blasted skirt was too short for my liking as only came down to mid leg or thigh or whatever they call it. Hopefully the jeans would be dry by this afternoon. Remember my experience with jeans involved worn used jeans for most of my life. New jeans is a new experience.

I was downstairs in the kitchen looking for something edible for breakfast that wasn't fruit salad or frozen. My cooking skills with eggs are either runny or scrambled. I didn't think Ari would appreciate me using her pristine cookware. I mean come on why put a coating on that just comes right off after the first use? I just happen to like my food cooked now. Got a problem with it?

I found some suspicious looking frozen waffles in the freezer. I say suspicious in that they look way to healthy to possible taste good. I had no idea wear a toaster was if any so I threw them into the mini oven on the counter. Note yes I NOW know its a toaster oven ha ha. The controls were simplish so that even I could use them. Ie there was a button that said waffle. I pressed it. And waited...and waited...and waited...

I am not that impatient.

Really....

Sometimes....

Ari came into the kitchen as the thing finally dinged. I had put four in there as that what was in the package.

"Oh thanks!" and she stole two of them. My tummy wasn't happy with her in her high heels, skirt and short sleeve blouse. I mean she looked good. Really good. Dang it I felt under dressed beside her. She put them on a plate with some sugar from a container and started to cut them into tiny pieces.. Like what the heck. They are barely five inches across.

Instead of grumbling I would just copy her. Ill get a nice juicy hamburger later from somewhere. Like one of those good burgers that you microwave at gas stations. What? I happen to like them!

Air was typing at clicking like mad on her laptop while we ate. I wasn't crazy about the orange juice with all the pulpy stuff in it. I was surprised how two glasses of water, two waffles and a glass of orange juice managed to fill me up. I even smiled for a moment that I kept my legs together as if I was proud of that accomplishment. Oh how I needed to get out and be myself after this.

She finished most of her waffle while working. There was a piece or two left that she didn't eat. I thought this was wasteful and made her eat the last bite. She objected that they were cold. I just folded my arms and glared till she ate the last one. Wasting food is foolish. Always eat whatever you make, or order, or buy. There is people out there that would be happy to even have that one morsel you leaving. Your are insulting them by doing so. Or at least that is what I have always believed.

Ari put on the blue blazer, that yes matched her heels and skirt. The blouse was rather plain and it sort of wrapped around her as I didn't see a button anywhere. It was a lighter color that was still sorta vaguely blue...I guess. I grabbed the front of her blazer and pretended to straighten it. I had no clue how to do so but what I was doing just felt...right... on a weird level.

"You be a good girl today you hear?" I said to her softly. I didn't need the game this morning. I was not expecting her to all but tackle me in a bone crushing hug.

"Thank you" she whispered before pulling back to let me see the water standing in her eyes ready to spill into tears. She grabbed her purse and bag, not sure where either came from, and turned to go outside. I stayed behind to put the dishes into the dishwasher. I was surprised when she came back in.

"I need you to let me out." she said. Weird is the garage door busted?

I followed her outside into the slightly chilled air. Note to self, women's clothing is NOT made to keep one warm. As we came around to the front of the garage I saw the problem. There was a craftsman, MTD gold, and John deere tractor as well as two tillers blocking the way. While most of them were out of the way the JD wasn't. I went behind to pull the pin to move it. No pin. No key either. A note of some type though. I took a quick glance. The key was under the hood taped to engine. The machine would not roll. I just grabbed the side and pulled it over bit by bit.

The back end of the machine, while heavy, is not that heavy. The front I used a pipe to push it over. I got it over enough to get her to leave. I waved as she left then started to bring what I could into the garage where it was much much warmer. The other two lawntractors had notes. The two tillers did not. After reading the notes I found one belonged with the craftsman. I didn't know which though.

I worked on the tractors while I waited for it to warm up outside. Not much, blade sharpening. Clean fuel systems, air filter, oil filter, oil. It was a good thing that these all took the same filter. Well for B&S anyways, thats Briggs and Stratton. The JD was a Kohler. Looks the same different thread. I had gotten a box of them a few years ago. I had one left at Ari's now. At home I had a another eight or so. The blades took a bit. Since I didn't want to get the skirt filthy, must be a g...ah.. social pressure thing to keep ones skirt clean. Pulling the decks out on each was fairly easy. Then I just used a socket and ratchet on them. I know some people call a ratchet a socket wrench. That is just wrong. A socket wrench is a totally different tool. I have one I use for some plugs.

I sharpen and balance the blades. It's not that hard but it is important. All you do is put the blade on something sharp, like another blade, and if it is balanced it will not move if it is in center. The MTD's blades require a hammering before I can sharpen them. He likes rocks apparently. Both of these machines are two blade machines. The craftsmen uses that funky star pattern. With Sears closed now I wonder how many of these machines will be around for much longer? I test the machines they work. I don't have a grease gun here. Small pot of grease yes but no gun. These both look alright.

Hmm I wonder. I use the craftsman and some rope strap I found to hook up the JD and pull that into the garage. Yes I spun the tires. I need to sweep up the shop floor after I'm done anyways.

With the other two done I start to look over the JD. Not having booster cables I hook some wire I found and a cable to jump the battery from one machine to the next. The JD turns over, has oil. Wont fire. Pull one of the two pulls. Soaked with fuel. I check for spark and it does have it. A bit more searching I don't see anything obvious so I pull the air cleaner cover off, or try too. It takes a screwdriver to pry it off. Oh.

Behind the air cleaner cover there should be a plate and a round fitler with a foam screen around that. I can make out the metal cover under the packed grass and other stuff. Might have been a rodent's nest. A bit of vacuum work, another find, dc though, and I can see the foam. After taking off the cover, air filter, and foam I turn the engine over for a bit. After a break or two for spark It sputters and starts belting out lots of smoke.

It was badly flooded. I had to open the door again. I didn't have a new filter, or a compressor, so that would have to wait on this one. I did tap out as much as i could but it was still very plugged. I put it back together loosely. I then use an old pizzabox to kneel on, as well as a scissor car jack, to raise up the rear and take off the right rear tire so I could see what happened to the transmission. It's not much, the lever is laying ontop slightly bent and the clip is long gone. A bit of straightening, a new cotter pin and washer and the machine will now move back and forth. I lube the axle, replace tire and move onto the next problem.

Up to this point I had to cross the starter wires with a screwdriver to get it to turn over as the key didn't work for starting. It didn't take me long to find the problem with a tester. The one switch located under the battery is all corroded. Using a heat lamp bulb and a small screwdriver it doesn't take me long to fix it. A bit of pencil eraser on the copper, best way to clean copper, and it's as good as new. It works and the machine turns over via the key. Only problem is that the metal strap that held the battery up is dust.

As luck would have it I had spotted something the other day that might work if it was still there. After locking the house up I go for a walk down the back lanes. One piece of metal that was a brace of some kind at one point will be perfect, with a little bending. Along the way I find another push mower with a bad engine but good cables, it was obvious as the con rod was sticking out the one side with oil everywhere. I also find a heavily rusted electric mower. It's so rusted that there is a wheel missing and the other ones are badly bent up. It's gets piled on the one with blown engine. I also found an electric blower with the extension cord end stuck on it but cut off.

Making my way along I spot an older tiller. At first glance the engine didn't turn and the gearbox was all busted. I was going to pass it but at the moment an older man in a chevy truck shows up. His name is Nelson, and considering how I'm dressed, I kinda have to say my name is Leanna. His truck is mostly empty and he offers to give me and my goodies a ride. He collects scrap in his spare time, mostly to keep the neighborhood clean. We chat and get a long like we are old friends. We drive around a few more lanes and pack up his truck with a stove, dryer and fridge. There is more but he will have to unload, which we do at his place before we go out and get the rest. A washing machine, busted drill press, a bunch of car parts, some old piping of some type, a bin full of wiring, some metal shelving and a bunch of other junk.

My eyes are better than his so it was me who spotted most of it. Believe it or not his truck is more than half full. Plus another load at his place, then my junk. Speaking of my junk. Nelson actually helps me, We wash off the mower deck of the old gas one. It's not in bad shape. I take the electric motor off the rusted one and combine the two, with a little configuring of the handlebars. From two junk mowers I get an electric push mower with a much better blade on it. I don't really need it though. While I was looking over the old tiller I thought about grabbing the carb and coil off it. With the cover off I can see that the coil has rusted to the flywheel. A bit of work with a lead hammer we knock the coil loose, sand off the flywheel and soak the coil in some vinegar to remove the rust. It's a nice afternoon spent playing with stuff. We actually get the engine to fire and run for a moment.

Normally I would have passed on the engine but it's an eight horse B&S. One of the older models just when they got rid of points. It's a keeper. On the way back to Ari's I mention about not needed the electric and we stop by the place I found it. The older lady there thanks us for the mower as she didn't want to get rid of it. She likes electric mowers but finds the new ones so expensive. We chat for a bit and get treated to fresh baked goodies. Nelson explains that it was all me that did the work, which in her eyes, is worth paying me $80. I try to refuse but she insists. Something about good for the sisterhood and all. Ehhhh I didn't understand but smiled and just took the money.

Back at Ari's Nelson finds out what I was working on. He offers to help, which I thank him for and give him the list of what is needed for the JD and where to get parts. I had been wiping my hands to get the money out of my back pocket on the skirt when he leaves. Around half an hour later he returns with an empty truck except for the eight horse engine and the parts for JD. I get the receipt from him and we get to work. It doesn't take us long to get the JD up and working properly. It still needs the new blade for center as it has the wrong one, a very common mistake. The center blade is a bit bigger than the outer ones. A lot of places just sell you three outer ones. It does work but leaves lines in the grass when you cut.

Honestly I forget about wearing the skirt or that my jeans might be dry as we work with a radio on. Time passes like a time warp. Once you get into a groove you just zone out. I mean like there we were working away having fun. The JD guy shows up and is more than happy to find his mower working. He just wanted it running and driving. He was not expecting the key to work again. I tell him where to bring his old battery or batteries, if he has more than one, to get a new one for it as this one is finished. He happily runs to get money to pay for everything done plus some extra which I try to share with Nelson. He once again refuses.

The first tiller was nothing special. Oil, clean and gap sparkplug, clean carb and tank. No biggie. The second one, well the engine ran. However nothing worked. It wasn't till I took cover off that I found out why. The crankshaft had snapped right at the cover. Wierd little clutch setup that only engages when you press a lever. There was a pully for the front driven tines and a gear and chain for the wheels. Stupid setup really as I found out when I looked at wheel setup. The bearings were crusty rusty as the chain case was full of something besides oil. I guess it had jammed. Then when the owner had slammed it into driving Snap.

This one needed a new motor. Aside from the snapped crankshaft it was a running motor, I exchanged it for the 8hp B&S. The original was a ten not a big change. Same size overall. The carbs and gas tanks were different, but they did exchange from one to the other. So it looks like it is the same engine but it's not. Nobody would be able to tell. The bearings were standard 6203/s so Nelson got some at the local Princess Auto for five a piece. The chain I soaked and worked loose totally covering my arms in grim in the process. The new bearings were sealed bearings, the case was supposed to have a drain hole but it was tiny and totally plugged, or it was a rust hole not sure which. I drilled it out so that water could drain. Greased the hell out of the chain and put it all back together.

The couple for the craftsman came around and it was the first tiller that was theirs. They were happy as well and paid us. Again I offered some to Nelson but he just smiled and refused. While we had been working he talked about his marriage to Mary, how now that he was retired and had found something to occupy his time, she complained that he was never home. It was dark outside when he finally left after the craftsman couple. I was cleaning up tools and the floor when Ari got back.

Neither of us had noticed the time while working or had properly eaten. Two freezer packs of, I think it was fish, and oh yea, more rice. It was food so I ate it. She talked about the difficulties she had that day. I listened and nodded. I told her about my day, she laughed and said something about a new boyfriend when I mentioned Nelson. I was outraged. I told her he was married but she still teased me.

She had called the company for the dryer and the repairman had called her back. He said to unplug it and he would be by tomorrow morning to see what the problem was and replace it if necessary. It was a brand new machine so I could see why they would want to look at it in place. Arianna , sorry but she did, bitched about just replacing it. I guess she was as tired as I suddenly felt. My jeans were mostly dry, just one or two seams a little damp. We got washed up, she made me clean the bathroom after. Yes I grumbled about it.

With both of us in our nighties and robes we sat down on the couch to watch a movie off netflix. We didn't get past opening credits before the both of us were doing the chainsaw thing on either side of the couch snuggled under our robes. It was kinda funny how some hours later we both woke up with cricks in our necks before heading off to bed. Ari kissed my forehead for some reason, I was still mostly asleep.

It was close to ten the next morning when I awoke. My nose was pressed into the nightstand that was beside the bed. All the covers are twisted tightly around me. I had a pillow under my head but I was on the bedroom floor. Not sure if that happened while I slept or if I missed the bed and just grabbed everything. I did the worm thing and found Ari snoring lightly right beside me in her robe. I used my one foot to wake her.

She had found me that way at six and tried to wake me only to fall asleep beside me. We both laughed about it, I did not giggle, she did. For the first time in almost four days I could wear jeans again. And darn it all, if they didn't feel quite right. I was almost tempted to put another dam skirt on. Almost. No dam way was I wearing a skirt again if I could help it. Today I wore an oversized sweater of sorts.

Strange how after a few days of wearing skin tight clothing wearing something I have worn almost all along feels weird. My underwear was white. The sweater exposed one shoulder all the time no matter what I did. Ari said that was normal. Doing my makeup was less of a chore than before, still very weird, especially that dang lipsmear. She did have me work at doing my hair, properly, as she said. That took far too much time. In the end all I had in it was a simple hair clip in the back, with a bow, and it held my hair away from my face.

Today there was nothing new out front waiting for me. Ari left, she had a few things she needed to do, all dressed up in a skirt suit like usual. I finished the work on the second tiller around noon. I even tested it in the back yard in that patch that had been tilled over. It worked really good. With nothing to do I cleaned up, I even wiped down all my tools before going back into to clean up.

I was in the middle of looking for something for lunch when the doorbell rang scaring the crap out of me. I had learned my lesson and peeked out the window to see who it was. There was the same truck as before and some guy carrying a tool box on the landing. I let him in.
His name was Rob and asked right away where the, and this is a quote, infernal machine was. I liked the guy right away. I showed it too him, and over the course of about an hour, we took it half apart, found the stupid switch that had literally broken apart. Apparently some of these chinese components, while it helped to cut costs on the machines, did not always work. He had encountered this before, as evidenced by the large half empty box of switched in his tool kit.

It worked, and he made doubly sure to test both it and the washing machine, it had a loose belt and needed adjustment, before he left leaving his card behind. If I ever needed, or someone I knew, needed a repair guy I knew exactly who to call. However I still had not had lunch. So once again I was going to look when the doorbell rang again. Thinking Rob had forgotten something I just opened the door.

Big mistake.

"Hi beautiful" It was Hanz. Again.

"What are you doing here?"

"Uhm Lunch?" I just looked at him like he was stupid.

"Maybe to bribe you with a nice fancy lunch?" he was looking sheepish.

"So Subway?" I asked with a raised eyebrow. He roared.

"Ehhemm.. Seriously is it wrong.." I cut him off right there.

"Yes it is!"

"How about a bribe of my shop?" he asked. My mind instantly went back to that beautiful shop in such a mess. I was silent as I thought about how much I wanted to get my hands in there. He took my silence in turn. Say anything else you want about him, he is a sharp cookie.

"I don't have any"

"Just to clean it up, get the stuff fixed and working mind you. I'll pay cash."

"I ...I...I...suppose..." I mean how could I say no. Really it's very hard... It's just a temp thing..in that beautiful....

"Get your purse and we can go."

"Huh" fog..." okay." more fog....

Before I knew it, the house was locked, and I was sliding into his car. I say sliding as I caught myself sliding my legs in after sitting down. Darn skirts, I wasn't wearing one but I still sat and slid anyways. The car was a very nicely done 78 trans am. In black with the gold fire bird on the hood. It may sound weird but that is the way many of them came. It was not a bandit car clone as it didn't have the t top roof. It was not very popular in Canada. I do know that the t top roof was available on cars up to mid 80's. I saw the books once. It was possible to get a 1983 charger 2.2 turbo, all wheel drive, with a t top. I have no idea if any were ever sold that way but there was parts listings for them.

It was a typical guy car. It had power, modified engine the original was not that powerful and the camshafts died in short time. Loud exhaust that would give you a headache, and I bet a bunch of other useless mods, such as disc brakes, rack & pinion steering, etc. Was I impressed? Not in the least little bit. I call cars that are loud and non stock rumblers. Hanz was smiling trying to impress me with all the stuff he was talking about including the totally non stock ugly ass radio. It had yadda yadda fuel injection, yadda yadda stupid cam, yadda yadda stupid crank...

We got about halfway there when he stopped at a traffic light. I unbuckled my belt and got out of the car as fast as possible. I started walking right away. I took him a minute to first find a parking spot, then pay for the parking. By that time I was already a block away. I'm a fairly fast walker and since I was so pissed off possibly even faster. Hanz may play a fair amount of golf, and work out, but it did take him time to catch up.

"Leanna what did I..." I turned on him.

"I WILL NOT ride around in a fucking piece of crap like that hacked piece of shit. Ever!" I turned and kept walking. I was fuming mad.

"But.. I don't understand... Why are you so..." I turned on him again almost screaming at him.

"It came with leave spring suspension in the rear, no traction but it rode well. Simple am fm eight track radio. The engine's were a 305 two barrel or a 350 four barrel quadrajet. Wagner gear box. Drums in the rear and discs in the front. That's it. They were a nice car." I huffed a moment or two"What you have is every dam thing I hate modified on a classic car, regardless of brand."

"I though that you would be..." I didn't let him finish.

"Well you thought wrong. I'll walk the rest of the way while you do whatever you want with that piece of garbage."

I dare say I was mad. I was so mad that by the time I made it halfway there I was very cold. I didn't have a jacket and was somewhat mollified to be picked up by a valet, Kieth if you must know, in his regular, slight dented, old ford. Not sure which model as many of the early 2000 look the same just different nameplates. The Hyundai made focus and explorer I will not get into. If you get me started on Ford trucks I would be here all night swearing at their weak ass.... breathe.....

It was funny that as we pulled in here comes Hanz in a blue, dark blue, completely stock looking 53 dodge business coupe. It was fairly quiet and seemed to be running alright, for a six. Yeah single barrel carb, straight six with low gearing. Not the fastest cars around. Great acceleration, when they worked. I think it was his idea of an apology. I just laughed.

He got out and made a flourish with his hands before saying" Is this more to my lady's liking?" I did not giggle. I don't giggle. I just laughed and nodded. I could see him visibly relax. Somehow I had made him on edge about the whole car thing I guess. I felt kinda bad about that. I knew it was my temper that had caused a problem.

"Look, I'm sorry. I just get so worked up about classic cars. It's a button of mine." I looked down.

" I would understand if you didn't want me anywhere near your...shop.." I tried to not cry or sniffle. It happens sometimes when I get sad. Not a lot and most times I can hide till it goes away.

"Actually, I am quite relieved."

"Come again?" what the hell is he on about now.

"Brian, my former head groundskeeper, hated the firebird." I interupted, "Trans am. Different car."

"Whatever." he saw my look and held up his hands," Peace no offense." I glared.

"By your reaction, which I do apologize for, I have to believe your exactly what I need." he approached me to put his arms around me. I backed away.

"And that means?"

"I bought that car thinking it was a very good car. I probably paid too much for it. I know nothing about cars or any of that mechanical stuff." He paused a moment.

"I think, after this summer, it would be in my best interest to have someone close to me that could make up my short comings."

Please don't let this be what I think this is..

"Leanna Bridgston" he was all formal and got down on one knee. Flee run!

"Would you do me the honor of becoming my promised."I tried to move backwards. Really I did. My legs were not listening. Shock yes. It was shock.

"I know we have known each other a short time, and I know your not ready for the marriage part, but with this ring I offer to try to win your lovely heart over. " He reached forward and slipped a ring onto my finger. I hate rings. Rings are dangerous.

"Please be my promised." It would almost be comical if there was snow on the ground or rain. Yes lots of rain and puddles. I looked up. Darn it cloudless sky.

I used the fingers of my other hand to grab the ring. It was a silver ring with a gem in it of some type. All delicate looking all by itself. Looking at the rest of my hands, well the hands attached to my arms. They looked so delicate, so feminine, so uhm right?. NO!
These are NOT my hands! My hands are dirty, cracked with calluses. Rough looking hands anything but these.

Is this ring magic? What is happening to me? I should remove the ring and throw it on the ground, in his face, in ...why are you twisting it you idiot?

"I ...I ...cccan't wwww wear a rrriing.." I'm studdering? Why the hell am I studdering? I never studder. Stutter! I never studder.. Oh gods what is wrong with me!

"Why not?" innocent question. A good question. Why can't you wear a ring? There is a reason...

"Jewerly....shop...missing fingers..." uh...why can't I speak...

Hanz gently reaches up and slowly removes the ring from my finger. He then takes a small gold chain from around his neck. A very plain thing really.

"This was a gift to me from my grandmaam. She gave it to me when I was very young just before she passed away. She did not have much as she was very proud and refused to leave her old homestead house till the day she died. This is very precious to me." He put the ring into the necklace and placed it around my neck. Why did I lift my hair?

"Now my grandmaam's heart is next to yours which holds my heart." I just nodded. My capacity for speech was gone. I was going insane that had to be the reason.

He grabbed my shoulders and pulled me towards him. There we were it was not near night at all. Sunset? Or close too. He is pulling you in for a kk.....

I looked up at him. Noooo I can't I can't I can't....

Grumble.

"Uh you mentioned lunch?" Good save body of mine!

Hanz tilted his head back and shock both me and him as he laughed. "Yes I believe I did." he looked down at me again. "Where did you want to go?"

"Well we are here." He looked up and noticed the club as if he had totally forgotten about it. We were parked in front of it.

"So we are. I think it's the chef's night off though." He was still holding me close.

"Uhm maybe we can put something together ourselves?"

"Perhaps. I don't know how to cook though. BBQ I can do." I will not say typical man! I am a typical man. Aren't I? I'm supposed to be..

"Well if you let me go we can find something to maybe put on the barbee."

"If I let you go I wont have my heart."

"Well you will have to anyways."

"Oh"

"I have a shop to save!" I beamed up at him. He laughed again and smiled at me. Why didn't I notice that nice smile?

"Well we can't have that. I need that shop working!"

Hanz grabbed my hand like I was his lifeline and led me to the clubhouse, past the entrance off to the left side this time. We walked into a kitchen that was big. Stainless steel everywhere, not a deep fryer in sight. Three large worktables, only one had a sink as the other two had sinks close at hand on the countertops. The largest gas fired grill, currently off, that I have ever seen. Three ovens stacked one on top of the other and two other smaller looking ovens on the side. The one section had this huge industrial thing with belts on it. It did something with glasses as there was a set of flutes on the one end.

The back wall had two large freezer doors plus another wood door to another room. The freezers were walk in freezers. One had meat the other frozen supplies. There was no ground up hamburger in packages like you normally see. Hanz showed me how you used this meat grinder, hand operated, to make hamburger from some meat that was there. Cold but not frozen. It was good meat too. I didn't see any fat at all on the bits that he put into the grinder. When we were done grinding the meat, I cranked the handle, he took it off the corner where it was and brought it, along with the meat on a plate, to the kitchen proper.

While he washed, yes shocked me too, I went into 'panty' as he called it. It was like someone stole the spice and pasta isle from a store there was so much. It took me a bit but I found a package of onion soup and an egg. I should mention that none of the noodles, and there was a lot, were in packages. They were just hanging there as if they were drying. No idea.

In the kitchen proper I used only the egg white, which I put into the smallest metal bowl we could find. I also had to search for bread crumbles, crackers, and salt and pepper. It seemed silly but I used this massive blender to blend together the breadcrumbs, onion soup, pepper corn, and a touch of salt. With that I mixed it with the egg white then added the hamburger and mixed it all together thoroughly.

From a slightly dusty package of paper plates we pulled one out and I started to make equal balls of meat. Hanz watched me carefully with that look of someone who is learning as he watches. When I had equal balls and all the mix out of the bowl I smushed them flat. Buns were found frozen in the one fridge. We didn't bother looking for any condiments. He did put the frozen buns into this one oven with a small amount of water in the plastic bowl thing. I have no idea what the machine is but two minutes later those frozen buns were all warm and soft without being dry in any way.

I helped him clean up the evidence of our trespassing on the chefs home space, some chefs are like that. Once he was sure everything was as good as we could get, and he left a note. He led me outside, I was carrying the plate with the burgers, he had the buns. Now I have seen some decks before but this was ...wow.

The rear of the club had a timber framed deck with multiple levels. Some were covered in expensive wood with no visible nails. Others had stones arranged nicely but naturally around an open fire pit of a type that also had a round black hood over it leading up out over the open rafter thing. I think its something fancy as it looks open to the sun but actually isn't with crisscrossing beams with fancy curved ends. Very cosy on a cool night if the fire is going. A semi enclosed section with a long glass table, perhaps for outdoor meetings.

And the section we were on with the BBQ good enough for three houses. He only worked the one section, I could easily see him with a smock on and a silly hat, beer in one hand, bbq with little blonde girls in fancy dresses running around his legs. I shook my head a bit to get rid of that image. It was closed over on two sides by large glass single pane windows. The ceiling was done in boards very much like the floor. There was comfy sofa style cushions on adirondack chairs. A nice place to sit after a few rounds of golf. I knew what gold was. Something people with money played.

Hanz was shocked to learn I had never played golf. The sneak took out his phone and called Arianna to ask if she had ever played. His darn height prevented me from getting the phone from him. I was dragging over a chair to get said phone when he hung up. I did not pout.

"Arianna has not played for some time and does not have any golfing supplies. Fortunately for the both of you we, here at the club, can equip both of you when we play tomorrow."

He explained how the gang was getting together for the last swing, as he called it, of the season as it was going to be a warm day. The having two lovely ladies to come with part didn't thrill me. I was a little scared as he called the others and told them of the plans as I was afraid they would come here and I would be in a pickle with this blasted ring around my neck.

In the end they didn't as they all had other plans, thank god.

When the burgers were done, not burnt, he was good at a bbq. We ate our little meal. I did mention that some homemade potato salad would have been good with this. He smiled but didn't say anything. I really hope those little girls were not running around in his head as well. That would be totally embarrassing. And why girls? Why not some boys? Why was I even thinking about that! Stop it!

I guess my burgers were not as bad as I thought. The spice was a little more than normal, for me. But each of us ate all six of the burgers in silence. When we were done, cleanup of paper plates is so much easier, dump into a blue bin. We each had a soda from the fountain in the main bar part from the night before.

Since it was still fairly light out he took some balls in a bucket, and a club or two, and proceeded to try to teach me how to swing a golf club. I may have smacked him with the club, totally by accident, when he tried the lean over the back of me to teach thing. After that he stood to the side and rear. Towards the end when it started to get dark I wasn't doing that bad. At least they were going forwards instead of straight in front of me. Err as in straight across the other tee boxes in front of my body not where I was supposed to be aiming.

When it was dark, and yes I had fun swinging that club, we went to the shop. I almost ran there I was so excited. I was there and waiting when he jogged up chuckling at me. He unlocked the doors and turned on the lights.

We moved stuff around on the floor at first and spent the better part of an hour fixing all the lights, and I cleaned the reflectors with soap and water so that we could actually see in the shop. I think he was surprised at how well lit up it was when all the lights worked. I put him to work after we cleaned all the piled up junk off of the milling machine, and lathe onto some plywood laying over two of the non working machines. There was a lot of junk. I then cleaned off the bench beside the wash tank, as well as the top so I could open it.

It was no surprise to find that the tank was full of crap as well with very little solvent, if you want to call it that, left in it. Some old coffee tins and a small piece of metal cover for something later I had most of the gunk out. I poured a little bit of new solvent into the tank and used a brush I had found in the tank while emptying it. The other metal pieces, bolts screws,nuts,and parts I left in a separate container. I would wash those after with the leftovers from the tank and figure out what to keep and throw away. I even cleaned out the pump with more solvent and got it working. Solvent tanks, the good ones, have a gear type pump that pumps fluid into a nozzle you can use to help clean parts.

That was part two and yes I was very dirty but one happy g... uhm person. I dumped the new solvent into the tank and even put the mid level screen plate back on, after I hammered it straight again. With a clean tank available to use I started to take apart the milling machine, it was closer. It was very dirty and I had to back off the adjusters completely just to get one table to move at all.

"Why are you taking apart my drill press?" I grunted as I worked with a pick to get the screws clean.

"First it really really needs it. Second it's not a drill press."

"It's not?"

" No it's a milling machine, a very good one, or was."

It may not seem like much but when to take apart a machine like that completely there is a lot of parts. The floor had a bunch, the counter was covered, and that was leaving most of the machine left in place. I would tackle the top end separately. There was not a radio in the shop but Hanz got a bluetooth speaker and his phone setup playing music while we worked. And work we certainly did.

Getting all the screws, bolts, gibbs, and nuts clean took me at least a good forty minutes. Hanz I had working at cleaning out the previously hidden grooves on the table top. We both wore earmuffs as he was using the shop vac, I had to clean that too. The filter was tossed but a new one was in the next door supplies. Like I said he used the shop vac, some screw drivers, broken screwdrivers, to clean out the solidly packed grooves. Apparently Brian didn't know it was a milling machine either. More's the pity.

Hanz did manage to get most of it cleaned out and I scrubbed it down as best I could. However there was a fair amount of rust on the table.
There was a sandblasting cabinet, I fixed that new nozzle and a valve, and showed Hanz what to do. I left him to that while I got the second table mostly clean. It wasn't as badly rusted it the ways were not looking pretty. By that time Hanz removed the previous piece from the tank. I had him blow it off outside as he had sandblasted every surface he could reach. If the sand had been better quality stuff I would have been worried. As it was almost all fine powder all it did was clean the worst of the rust off.

I had him do the second table while I used a wire brush on a drill to get the last bit off the ways clean. In the end aside from the very ends that are hardly ever used it was in good shape. I Even found some grey paint to paint the outside of it. Hanz saw me doing that to that one piece. Well that was a mistake.

Once you get started down that road it's a never ending cycle. We cleaned parts, taped and painted then laid them out to dry. When we had as much as we could easily do that night done on the mill, we moved around the shop finding tools, cleaning them and placing them in piles of like tools. I took apart the tool chests and cleaned out the drawers as well. At one time someone had put those plastic things in the bottom of all drawers. They wash nicely and I put them back in after using a rag of solvent and paper towels, got the chest clean enough to start putting tools back in to appropriate drawers. Every socket had to be washed out as they were all completely filthy. A few were even broken, I made a pile. Most of the screwdrivers were broken in one way or another. I made a pile of those.

"Why are you piling up those sockets there and the screwdrivers there?"

"Oh to bring in for exchange."

"huh"

"Most of these are good brand name tools, They have lifetime warranty so if they break you bring them back for exchange."

Wide eyed he looked at me"Really they do that." I snickered.

"Yes they do."

Once he understood that we started to empty the packed out trash cans into bags and found a number of broken tools in there. I did find a bunch of boxes, wooden boxes hidden behind the "drill press" on the floor. I Must have squealed or something manly similar.

"What did you find?"

"Would you believe I just found all the bits and stuff for the milling machine and lathe?"

In the end I had to explain what each tool was and what it was used for. Most were dull, no surprise. I did mark down an address to a local, well to me at home, tool sharpening place that could sharpen them for a good price. I think I did shock him when I told him what each cost new. There was even more boxes, steel this time with the Bridgeport, name on them in the back of the storeroom. Those I looked at but would have to work on at a different date.

Apparently a local machine shop had closed and they had bought most of the equipment and brought it here. Nothing had ever been looked over that well. I had to guess that the more modern expensive machines had been sold elsewhere.

That was fine with me a Bridgeport mill with all flutes, cutters, gear cutters, dividing head(boxes in the back) was worth a ton of good money.

The 15 South Bend lathe, newer model with built in gearbox and motor though otherwise almost identical to the belt ones. It was not quite seized and may need some bearings. That is a project for another day.

It was getting late when we decided to wash up, that was funny in and of itself, and called it a day. We loaded the boxes of exchangeable tools into the back of the dodge and dragged out five large heavy duty garbage bags of junk to the bins. We had made a good dent into get the shop into possible usable shape. We were both utterly dirty so rather than dirty the interior of his car, I cut up some bags and covered the seats.

Hanz drove me home. It was a nice ride. The old coupe rode very smooth as we cruised around. It may have taken us a bit to get back to Ari's via quick stop at the DQ drive thru were we both got some old fashioned chocolate shakes, and the subsequent brain freeze. No mention of the ring was made during the drive as we spent it planning on what to do next. Mostly it was overhaul and repaint the mill and lathe. He was going to watch some videos, after I told him about the places, and learn what he could.

Eventually we parked out front of Arianna's. I could tell she was home as the light was on and she would occasionally peek out the window. We were doing nothing wrong just finishing off the shakes. They have really good shakes at DQ.

I had the door open and was sliding out, dang habits, when he came around.

"Here my lady." he helped me up. I laughed and in the spirit of fun. And I do mean in the fun sense nothing more.

"Why thank you kind sir."

"Twas my pleasure mylady." I laughed.

"I'm not a lady."

The sneak surprised me and pulled me to him. He put his finger on the ring on my chest. "But you are MY lady."

I had to think quick" Provisionally?" How was I going to get out of this mess.

"Maybe more?"

I looked down as the weight of the ring seemed to increase beyond my bodies weight. "Ari is looking at us."

"Good"

"Huh what" I should have not looked up. I should have just walked ... I should ...

It was only when he closed the door of his car and drove off that I realized what had just happened.

I wanted to puke and covered my mouth as I ran into the house, whose door opened as I approached. I made it and did dry heave once or twice.

A concerned Ari held my dirty hair from my face as I hovered over the toilet. The ring dangling free on the chain.

"Lee. ..Leee are you alright?" she asked all concerned.

I wiped my face as best I could then turned and sat down next to the toilet before I looked up and her.

"He...hee ....he kissed me!"



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