Suck Squeeze Bang Blow

Suck Squeeze Bang Blow

Status: Finished

Genre: Humor



Status: Finished

Genre: Humor



Or intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust.
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Or intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Intake

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 01, 2017

Reads: 348

Comments: 1

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 01, 2017



It started in the 1860s, when German engineer Nickolas Otto began experimenting with four cycle internal combustion engines.  A few decades later, the automobile craze would begin in earnest.  Different types of propulsion systems would be tried, including steam engines and electric motors.  Otto’s design would be the most successful.


Otto, Daimler and Benz, Ford, Olds, Chrysler and many others played a role in the history of the automobile.  Which leads to me.  Juan Montego.  People refer to me as a mechanic.  But that is not how I see myself.  I am an automobile artist.


In America, when a water pump fails, the mechanic pulls a new one off of a shelf, or orders one from the internet.  I am not in America.  Here in Cuba, we fix things.  I fix things, and I make them better.  Or, if a part is beyond repair, I can make a new one.  Here, repairing cars, and keeping them running, is an art as well as a science.


New cars have electric windows.  Some of you have never cranked a window down by hand.  We do a lot of that here.  Many of these cars are 70 years old.  Some are approaching 100.  


It is hot in the summer and few of the cars I work on have air conditioning.  My customers prefer to be able to open their windows.  Some hand cranks are made of thin metal and will eventually break.  


It’s not a problem for me.  I can make a new crank out of a few pesos of ordinary materials.  The main part of the crank is a metal bottle opener.  Usually I can salvage the knob from the broken crank.  


If not, I can make one out of wood, with my lathe.  I use nicely grained oak.  Then I sand, laquer, and polish the knob.  I create art, that also has a function.  My cranks last longer than the originals.


A big problem with cars is radiator hoses.  They are made out of rubber.  Engines are hot.  Eventually the hoses leak.  Finding new ones is not easy.  Through trial and error, I figured out how to repair leaky hoses.  Some of my repairs have lasted ten years.


I use a combination of window screen and duct tape.  Took a while to figure out the right pattern.  What finally worked was three layers, with alternating strips of screen and tape.  The final step was setting the adhesive in the tape with heat.  


It takes ten minutes in an oven to finish the job.  I only did it once in our apartment.  It made the place stink.  Isabella let me know that would be the last time.  She’s my wife.  We’ve been married 23 years.


She didn’t have to say anything.  I knew what that look meant.  I bought a used stove and hooked it up in the back of the shop.  We blow a fan out the door to get rid of the smell.


Being married is a trip.  But it is the best way to have children.  I knew I was going to need at least one.  That is what my father taught me.  He made it clear, he fed and clothed me all those years, not just out of love, but also to gain an employee.  When I was five, I started helping him in the shop.


I didn’t have to be coerced into working.  I wanted to be there.  My father, Javier, loved cars.  They were his passion.  I was an impressionable kid.  I wanted to do what he did.


It wasn’t until I was a rebellious teen that he had to explain the rules to me.  I’d taken off, without permission, to hang out with friends in Havana.  Which meant that Papá had to do the oil changes, chassis lubes and tire rotations I’d abandoned.


He made me work 16 hours a day, for three straight days.  I didn’t have anything to eat until the end of each day.  He said, “No work, no food.  Don’t let this happen again.”  I didn’t.


My rebellious phase was pretty short.  The truth is, I am just as passionate about cars as my father.  At any rate, it wasn’t long after that my life changed forever.  Everything got turned upside down and circumstances forced me to seek advice from my father.  When I met Isabella.


I figured out that women aren’t like cars.  I became aware that I had no idea what made them tick.  Turns out, Papá didn’t know that much more than I did.  He’d learned a little after being married for decades.  He gave me the best advice he could.  I stumbled through the rest.


Having kids is a trip.  Isabella and I ended up with two.  That is more than enough.  Tolomeo is 21.  His name means “powerful in battle.”  He’s powerful enough to muscle a rear axle into place by himself.  Isabella and I are still trying to get him to use the muscle between his ears.


Jadzia is 17.  She is smart, and as pretty as the gemstone she is named for.  I haven’t gone wrong yet, buying her jewelry made from jade, for birthdays or Christmas.


Just like me, Tolomeo started working in the shop when he was five.  By the time he was nine, he knew enough to be able to teach Jadzia.  I made it clear, I would judge their work as a team.  I wanted them to look out for each other.


I don’t know if it is genetic.  Both of my children are as hooked on cars as I am.  Predictably, Tolemeo is all about the horsepower.  How fast can you go in a straight line.  And the suspension.  How fast can you go around a turn.  


Jadzia is passionate about the body.  The paint has to be perfect.  The gaps between the hood, doors, and the chassis have to be consistent.  She will spend hours, meticulously applying pinstriping or hand lettering, then say something like “Next time I’ll do it better.”


Yet, they are more alike than different.  Both drive with a lead foot.  Of the two, my daughter is the bigger risk taker.  Everyone in our family loves cars.  All it took for Jadzia to go nuts over motorcycles was Diego Guerrera.  


When Jadzia was 14, Diego was the tough guy at school.  He rode a motorcycle.  A Voskhod 175.  Built in Minsk, it was left over from the Soviet days.  Like most of the cars we work on, it was old and patched up.  


When she started talking about Diego and the Voskhod at supper, I forbade her from dating him.  I’d seen the way he drove that thing.  


It didn’t take long for Diego to slide off of a wet road at an excessive rate of speed.  He broke both legs.  The Voskhod was a twisted mess.  It ended up in Emil’s salvage yard.


I thought I was done worrying about Jadzia getting involved with Diego and motorcycles.  I was half right.  She got over him when she found out he didn’t know how to drive.  She didn’t get over the Voskhod.


I’d sent her and Tolomeo to the salvage yard.  I knew there was a Lada 2101 that had a transmission I could use.  The transmission was strapped to the trailer as expected.  Right next to Diego’s mangled motorcycle.

© Copyright 2017 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.


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