Chapter 1 of Home Wrecker!
Cary’s assigned to mentor Holly's son and soon finds he'll do anything to win her heart…
“Hand me the wrench, Bhodi.”
I’m underneath the hood of a 1964 Mercury Colony Park. I’d been on the lookout for a Chevelle wagon, but after seeing the potential in this classic California surfer wagon, I was hooked. Nowadays, the silver-blue finish is cringe-worthy, but the teal is spot on for the era, and the wood panel appliqué was in fantastic condition for a car sitting in a musty barn in the Sandhills of North Carolina for decades.
I glance up confused and chuckle. The kid’s holding two wrenches to his face, peering through the holes like glasses. The silver tools combined with his shaggy brown hair make Bhodi Carrington look like Daniel Radcliffe about to have the sorting hat placed on his head. Underneath his grease-stained navy coveralls though the Vans store exploded on my fourth-grade apprentice. He’s even got the checkerboard slip-on shoes that he’s quick to cover whenever we enter the garage to restore this car.
When the local big brother program paired us together, I was sure they’d made a mistake. However, I’ve learned Bhodi’s neat as a pin appearance has more to do with having a shit-ton more respect for what he has than I ever had growing up. Bhodi’s no dweeb.
He is a quick learner, handing me the five-eighths, which is the exact one I need.
“You’re awesome.” The tone of my verbal complement reflects the way my grandfather had ruffled his hand through my hair when I was a kid.
I brought Bhodi into the service bay on a lark. We had an hour to kill after a movie we’d gone to see ended early, and the head mechanic texted this beauty was on a flatbed outside the dealership. We watched its low, bald tires slide down onto the asphalt, and a bunch of us, Bhodi included, pushed it into the service area where it sits now. When he started asking questions, I took him into the showroom. This location alone has six restored cars on hand. It’s sort of our hallmark. One of my favorite things is how amazed customers coming into the dealerships, ready to buy brand new off of the lot, are when we’re able to start the classics up.
The first time I’d helped my grandfather under the hood of a car, I wasn’t much older than Bhodi. I caught the bug from there. To my chagrin, the asshat in charge of this place diverted a lot of Grandad’s attention elsewhere. I hadn’t honed any true mechanical skill until I was college bound and the technicians took pity on me. Over the majority of the past eight years, the side benefit of this has been the more time I spent in the service center rather than the corporate offices, the more it pissed off the CEO. A man who gave me his last name. I finish tightening the bolt and, after handing the wrench back to the kid, wipe my hands on a rag and check my watch.
“I think we’re done.”
Bhodi’s shoulders slump as he puts the tools back in order. I pat him on the back.
“Dude, make sure you thank your mom for letting you come in this afternoon.” It’s normal for me to take Bhodi on the weekend. Over the course of helping out, he’s gotten to a point where he’s capable of doing a few of the tasks on his own, so yesterday I got permission from Holly to switch days and pick him up after school.
We shrug off the coveralls. The mechanics keep it light and joke around with Bhodi while he washes up. Something I appreciate. A few of them, with kids of their own, compare the black under their fingernails to his. One of the older fellas sends Bhodi back to the sink to try again while I snag the keys to a test drive vehicle with dealer plates on it. I like that the service center mechanics look out for him.
I signed up for the big brother program a few months ago to fix me, not realizing in the process I’d feel more responsible for this kid than I have for anyone. Is that crappy and self-centered of me to admit? Because I thought this was going to be like when my prep school forced us to volunteer for a stupid service project at the local pound. You couldn’t get attached to those animals because they came in and out of a revolving door of surrenders and adoptions. Before now, the idea of having kids around was foreign. If having any of my own didn’t seem like a game of Russian Roulette and I wound up with one like him, I could see myself doing it someday.
That’s not to say Bhodi doesn’t have his quirks.
He climbs into the passenger side next to me and starts fiddling with the radio. “Back seat.” I throw my thumb behind me.
“Why?” He whines.
“We’ve talked about this. It’s safer back there for pint-sized people.”
“It’s boring back there. There’s not even a TV in this car.”
“You’re going to waste the last fifteen minutes with me watching television?” I place my hand over my chest. “I’m wounded.”
“No, you aren’t.”
“No, I’m not. Now get.”
Bhodi’s shoe lands on the console, leaving a dusty print on the leather as he slips between the seats. I wipe it away and then adjust the mirrors, pretending not to watch him buckle up in the center. He leans forward, still trying to change the station on the dash.
“You know this is stupid, right? The station wagon we’re working on doesn’t have any seatbelts. If you stick to the rules, how am I supposed to ride in it when we’re done?”
I’m not telling the kid that I’m going to retrofit them. I’ve never done that on a showroom restoration before, but it’s a compromise I’m willing to make.
“Sit back.” I push him by the forehead, shift into drive, and fiddle with the tuner trying to find the station he likes.
“Stop!” Bhodi yells.
I jam the brake, jerking us to a halt, and swing my head back-and-forth like a moron, wondering what I’m about to plow into. “Right there!” He points at the dash’s digital display.
“You just gave me a heart attack because of the Arthur theme song?”
“It’s a good song. My mom sings it.”
I try to focus on Bhodi when we’re together rather than his mother. Holly Carrington is a looker, and it’s unfair to the kid that I enjoy dropping him off as much as I do picking him up.
Shit, did that come out wrong?
What I mean is, his hot mom aside, the kid is my priority and I have fun with him.
At the sax part, he’s blowing into a fake instrument, wiggling his fingers in the air. I can’t help laughing. When the song ends, he’s cool with my choice of something a little more modern and hard. But when I pull up to his condo and we get to the steps with his backpack, I can hear the thump of eighties music vibrating through the door. I knock as a warning before Bhodi barrels inside. The Tom Petty blasting in the kitchen gets turned down to a manageable level, and I hear Holly’s sweet voice welcome her son home.
She finishes hugging him and the kid whips his bag across the floor, scampering away so she can’t tell him to empty his lunchbox.
“Right on time, thanks. I really wanted a chance to see Bhodi before I left. Friday’s are Crazytown at work.” Holly smiles, moving toward the sink and turning on the tap.
She puts a watering can below the spigot to fill up. Some water splashes up as she does, turning me into a hound dog waiting for the droplets to soak into her top.
Holly has a rockabilly style with pin curls when her hair is down, and these blonde sexy-cool gravity-defying swirls when it’s up in a kerchief. Today, she’s got on black high-top Chucks. Her tattoo which starts below the cuff of her bobby socks has my eyes trailing up to her pert ass. The swell of it hangs out of the bottom of a deep green pair of cut-offs. The ink doesn’t show at her collar line, but a faint color seeps through from underneath a white t-shirt, so it may stop around her small braless tit. Both of those rosebuds dare me to look each time I see Holly. I can’t not sneak a peek before meeting her brown eyes.
When we were introduced, it was obvious based on her appearance Holly had an interesting job. Then one time when she mentioned it was her day off—still dressed in short shorts and cropped tops tied at her middle—I recognized this was her personal style. Although, you could’ve bowled me over when I walked into Sweet Caroline’s, looking for Jake Ballentine, and Holly was tending bar. The last place I’d expect to encounter my mentee’s mother was at Brighton’ notorious strip club, and if that doesn’t qualify as a complication to an already problematic situation, I’m not sure what does.
One thing is for sure, for a woman whom I’ve never seen naked, I have an uncanny awareness of her body. Holly’s at minimum ten years my senior. I’ve always had a thing for older women. I like the confidence they have when they ask you for sexual favors. Not sure if the cause is nature or nurture. Less certain I care either way. She’s Bhodi’s mom. I wish my dick understood that.
“Bhodi’s enjoying working on the car with you.” Holly tilts the watering can, sprinkling some houseplants sitting on an overcrowded window sill.
Bhodi. Yup, he’s why I’m here. I nod, doing my best to roll my tongue back into my mouth. She’s hot and I’m a perv.
“Before he left this morning, he begged me to let him go on a school day again next week,” Holly continues, covering a yawn as I try to get my wits about me.
I hadn’t thought that far ahead. “What we fixed today was simple stuff. He’s a capable kid. I might need to find him a challenge.” If Bhodi’s having enough fun that he wants to come back to the service center, I’ll have to put in hours by myself after work to prep the next part for him. We’re close to finishing. “I can take him more often if it makes it easier on you.”
I’m the kid’s weekend entertainment. About once a month the organizers plan a big meet-up, so it’s not always one-on-one. He gets to interact with other boys his age, and the adults share ideas of how to keep them occupied. We’re scheduled to go to a history museum and are even talking about coordinating a camping trip.
With her back to me, Holly makes a noncommittal sound. I should show myself out and text her the details whenever I have something to share. Instead, I stuff my hands in my pockets and bumble for a reason to stay.
“Do you like flowers?” Hell, I sound like a three-year-old. Does she like flowers? Duh, she’s got something of every shape and variety crammed into the bright space. No wonder this woman isn’t the type to take me seriously. She must think I have a supernatural ability to look past the obvious.
Her fingers travel over one plant, crunching dried petals between the tips. The action has a scent permeating the room. Her nose twitches and the corner of her mouth lifts, like that Samantha chick on Bewitched reruns.
“I had a garden when I was—um, a few years back. A little one, but still enough space to dig in.” She bites her red-stained lip when she turns her attention back to me and I’m a fucking goner.
“My, ugh,” I cough and scratch my short beard. “My mother loved gardening. She had tons of plants until her arthritis got in the way. Maintaining it is too much for her now.”
I leave out that her “arthritis” is “disinterest” and a landscaping crew takes care of it. The latter more so I don’t come off as conceited.
“That’s so sad.” Her frown lasts a moment, and Holly cocks her head before scenting a potted plumeria. “I hope to get another garden before I’m too old to enjoy it.”
“I’m sure you will.” Platitudes. Nice.
Why do I want this woman to like me when I can have one that’s unencumbered? I even googled what the fuck a plumeria was since the condo smells like a trip to Hawaii and resembles the set of a fifties movie.
Oh yeah, her kid, that’s why. Bhodi needs a role model, and I’ve volunteered to pretend I’m an upstanding citizen. Little does anyone fucking know I’m as messed up in the head as the next guy. My issues are easier to hide.
©2021 Jody Kaye