On the Plus Side Online - Tabatha Vargo Page 0,1

a six pack of beer, I swear we’d be rich. Even drunk as a skunk the man knows his way around an engine. That fact kept the people in our small town from caring that he did business with Budweiser on his breath. One of the plus sides of living in a town full of truck owners is the fact that once the good ole boys found a good mechanic, they stuck with him. Who cares that he couldn’t stand up straight or speak without a slur as long as the job got done right?

That was the biggest reason our small father-and-son shop stayed afloat. The other reason, of course, was because I’m a Whiz at the books. Last year alone, I saved dad three grand in taxes. I should’ve stayed in school, and then maybe I could’ve gone somewhere else in this world.

Instead, here I was, twenty-two years old, stuck with Renee, a wannabe girlfriend, who drove me nuts, and a father who was a slave driver. Let’s not forget my fifteen-year-old sister, Jenny, who should’ve been a boy. I guess things could’ve been worse; I could be all alone in this big bad world.

I pulled myself out from under Lucy and stood there for a minute before running out of the garage and across the yard to the house.

The screened door snapped back making a loud slamming noise when I walked in. Dad was sitting at the kitchen table sorting through a massive stack of bills. He shook his head in disgust. For as much business as we made here at our little shop, it never seemed to be enough. We barely kept our heads above water.

The last couple of months had been the worst we’d had in a long while though. A new mechanic shop just opened on the outskirts of town. Even though I knew all the customers would come back once the new place got old, I couldn’t help but worry about us until then.

It happened in our line of business. Some new shop with bright paint and fresh tools would pop up and stay open just long enough to make us financially uncomfortable. Another advantage to living in a small town…people don’t like change. They always came back to what they knew, and the people in Walterboro knew my dad.

“What’s up, Pops?” I said as I tapped the top on a cold Mountain Dew.

“Son, we got ourselves a bit of a problem. It seems we’re a little behind on some loans. We gotta come up with some cash, fast.”

“OK. Which loans are we talking about and how much?” I pinched my lips together like a disappointed mom.

I knew exactly which loans we were talking about, or should I say which loan. The loan we were talking about was the loan on the house and the garage. Back before I started taking care of the books for dad, he’d gotten so deep in debt with the I.R.S he actually had to take a loan out on anything he had of value. From the look on his face, I could tell the amount was going to chap my ass.

“What’s the damage and what can we do?” I said impatiently.

“Well, it’s along the lines of eight grand and there’s nothin’ comin’ to mind. You got any ideas?”

Eight thousand dollars! I switched out my Mountain Dew for a beer.

“How long do we have?” I sighed.

“The final notice says ninety days. I don’t see how we can come up with eight grand by then. I just hope somethin’ comes up.”

It pissed me off that he kept saying “me” and “us” like I had something to do with it. He was the one who let it get this bad. He was the one than needed to go back to school and learn basic math, not me!

I stared back at Dad for a minute and let the last few sentences he uttered fill my brain and make sense.

“Dad, I’m gonna take a drive and try to figure some stuff out. You want me you grab anything while I’m out?

“No, don’t be gone long, though. Morgan’s bringin’ over that ford that’s been tickin’. I want you to look it over for me,” I heard him say as I walked back out the door—the screen door snapped back and made an even louder banging noise.

All the work I put into this stupid shop trying to save it, and all the time I spared in the garage with him, were a waste. I could