Trouble in a Tight Dress(76)

By: Lori Sjoberg

His final arrest came at the age of seventeen, when he and his buddies had thought it would be cool to take Jacob’s father’s convertible out for a joyride. The disappointment on his mother’s face when she bailed him out had been enough to put him on the straight and narrow from that point forward.

Two hours and an ungodly towing bill later, Ty and his car were at a garage that looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned in a decade and reeked of grease and stale cigarettes. Three of the four bay doors were rolled open, letting in much-needed fresh air. A pickup truck was on one of the hydraulic lifts, while Ty’s vintage black Camaro was in the bay beside it.

“Yep, your water pump’s shot.” The mechanic wiped his hands with a rag. The patch sewn onto his grungy overalls read Calvin, while a big wad of chewing tobacco was tucked between his cheek and gums. He took off his cap, scratched his head, and tugged the cap back on. “It’s too late to get the part today, but if I order it now, it should be here first thing in the morning.”

Ty’s spirits sank at the news. So much for his luck getting better. “How fast can you fix it once the part arrives?”

“About an hour, two tops.” The mechanic paused to spit tobacco juice into a red plastic cup. “These older cars are a lot easier to work with. All I gotta do is yank the old pump out and slide the new one in. You might want to go ahead and replace the radiator hoses while you’re at it. These ones look like they’re starting to rot.”

“Yeah, sure. Is there someplace nearby where I can grab some dinner?” He hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast and his stomach was growling like a starving hyena. And while he was there, he’d call Jay and Carlos and ask them to come pick him up. No way was he staying in this backwoods town for any longer than he absolutely had to, not when he could be drinking a cold one on the forty-foot yacht Jay had chartered.

Calvin glanced over at the skinny guy working on the pickup. “Should we send him to Darryl’s?”

“Uh-uh. Darryl ain’t been the same ever since his wife left. Send him to the Swamp. It’s closer and the food’s better.” The skinny guy’s gaze flicked over to Ty. “Make sure to tell Lola we sent you so she’ll give us a free pitcher the next time we come in. You’ll love her. She’s a real spitfire.”

Something in the guy’s voice had Ty doubting the sincerity of his statement. Seeing how the rest of his day had gone, Lola was probably a three-eyed circus freak in desperate search of a husband. On the bright side, at least it would make for an interesting story over a few beers on the boat.

Hoping for the best but expecting a train wreck, he followed the mechanic’s directions to a small building two blocks over that looked like its best days had come and gone a long time ago. There was a sign out front with the picture of an alligator and the words “The Swamp Bar & Grill” written above it in big green letters. A dozen or so vehicles were parked in the lot, which gave Ty hope that the food wouldn’t be all that bad.

Here goes nothing, he thought as he crossed the lot and went inside.