Chapter 5

It was busy at Miller’s Grocery Store—typical for a Saturday—which was fine with Billy. It was making the day fly by and, as far as he was concerned, it couldn’t go fast enough. He simply couldn’t wait for the end of the day.

Darryl Miller watched from his office, impressed with Billy’s maturity and confidence. He assisted customers, greeting them by name, chatting easily with the adults. He heard nothing but good words about Billy, how polite and helpful he was, how he was a great asset to the family-run business. Darryl agreed whole-heartedly. Which is why he felt compelled to do something for Billy. He was a good kid, he thought, who deserved a break.

At the end of his shift, Billy untied his apron and hung it in the back storeroom. As he was about to leave, Mr. Miller approached him, wrapping a fatherly arm around his shoulders.

“Billy,” he said, “I know you’ve been wanting a car for a while. Turns out my brother wants to get a new car for the missus. She wants a new Jetfire.” Darryl rolled his eyes. “Red,” he added, spitting out the word in disdain. Billy grinned, thinking about Mr. Miller’s simple black sedan.

“I saw the ad in the paper.”

“Now what he’s selling isn’t new, mind you,” Darryl cautioned, not wanting to get the boy’s hopes too high, “but she’ll be just fine for you, I think.” Giving Billy a dismissive pat on the shoulder, he added “I told him you’d be by after work. I made him promise not to sell it before you had a look.”

Billy grasped Mr. Miller’s hand and pumped it vigorously. “Thank you, sir!” Darryl chuckled as he watched Billy ride off, pedalling feverishly.

When Billy arrived at the Miller farm, Andrew Miller was waiting for him. Wiping his hands on an old rag, he met Billy at the front porch. Recognizing the excitement in Billy’s eyes, Andy figured on waiving the niceties of asking him in for some lemonade, despite the fact that he knew his wife would take him to task for it later.

Waving the rag towards the barn in invitation, he ambled over with Billy, chatting about school, work and, of course, cars. Andy remembered all too well what it meant to be a teenager and own a car. Which is why he’d already decided that he’d price it to sell.

Sliding the barn door open, Andy let Billy wander in. It was obvious the boy was pleased. He walked slowly around the gold-tone ’57 Rocket, taking in the chrome, the sleek lines, running his hand lightly along the back fin. A grin split his face as he looked up at Andy.

“She’s a beauty,” he whispered reverently.

Andy nodded in agreement. “That she is, son, that she is.”

“But…” Billy was sure this was out of his price range. She was in pristine condition, not a mark on her. “How much?” He swallowed thickly, afraid to hear the answer, having already fallen in love with the car.

Andy folded his arms, waited a beat, then named a figure. Billy wasn’t sure he’d heard him right. That couldn’t be it, she was worth so much more.

“Too much?” asked Andy.

“No, sir!” breathed Billy. “I’ll get you the money on Monday. I’ll go to the bank and…” his words jumbled together, tumbling over each other.

Andy held up his hands, laughing. “I trust you, Billy.” Pulling a set of keys from his pocket, he tossed them to Billy. “Take her home now. Don’t you have somewhere to go tonight?”

Stunned, Billy looked down at the keys, then up at Andy. “Your bike will fit in the trunk,” Andy nodded encouragingly. He laughed quietly has he loaded Billy’s bicycle into the back, pushing the trunk closed.

Standing on the front porch, he watched Billy drive away, lost in his own memories of teenage years. He heard the screen door creek open, then slam shut behind him.

“Now why didn’t you ask that nice Billy Peterson in for lemonade?” Nancy Miller stood beside him, wiping her hands on her apron. Andy glanced over at his wife, a sheepish grin on his face.

“Do you remember when I first bought that car?” Nancy nodded, smiling wistfully.

“It was a warm summer day,” she sighed. “The top was down, and we just drove around, enjoying the countryside.”

“And?” her husband prompted, nudging her with his hip.

“And you proposed to me,” she replied, laughing, holding up her hand so the light glinted off the set of rings. “Do you suppose the old Rocket will bring Billy the same luck?”

Andy shrugged. “You can’t change what’s meant to be,” he said, knowingly. “Sometimes fate just takes over.”

The End

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