Friday, March 23, 2012

Running Repairs

They arrived home within a month of each other. Toby was a year older. He had recently divorced and his wife had kept the house. He had exhausted the patience of his friends, in whose kitchens he had got drunk, and on whose sofas or spare beds he had sweated out the booze. So he had gone back to his parents, until he found a place of his own he could afford. Luke had come back to look after his mother, who was dying more quickly than expected. He worked from home, anyway, and his sister was moving to Leeds with work.

They met again as they had first met, in their respective back gardens. Toby smoking, Luke on his mobile. There was pointing, the nervous laughter of recognition and a handshake. They had fought and played here, from six to sixteen, a forever ago.

They bought a car between them, seventy-five quid each, a doer-upper from the local paper which they hunted down in fulfilment of an unrealised teenage ambition. Luke spent more time on it, while his mother slept. It was something he could fix. Toby helped him out on alternate weekends when he didn't have the kids, and when the evenings got lighter he'd change out of his suit into overalls and lean over the engine with a Haynes manual. The yellow concrete of the shared driveway camouflaged, soon enough, with drips and runs of oil. Another four-hundred in parts and a failed test and they got it on the road. They drove Luke's mother to the hospital.

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