Groceries and Grubbs

Tom wriggled his way under the front bumper of his car and brought his head next to the left front wheel. He grabbed a rag, reached up and wiped the dirt off a grease fitting. He coupled the grease gun to it, and pumped the handle until grease started to ooze out of the joint. He wiped the excess grease on the rag, and repeated the process on the next fitting. Then he squirmed sideways and greased the right wheel.

He twisted his head around to look at the crankcase drain. The oil had stopped dripping out. He groped around, found the drain plug, and screwed it back in. He groped again, picked up a wrench, and tightened the plug. Then he put the cap on the jug holding the used oil. He'd drop that off at the recycling center in the morning.

He slid out from under the car, grabbed a new oil filter and the filter wrench, and crawled back under. He clamped the wrench around the old filter, loosened it, then twisted it off by hand. He started the new filter onto the threads, and spun it until it was tight.

He crawled out once more, stood up, and wiped his hands on a rag. He went into the garage, loaded his arms with five quart jugs of oil, and returned to the car. As he poured the oil into the filler neck, he thought, Too bad Judy's car isn't ready for an oil change, too. I could do 'em both and not get dirty twice.

As the last can of oil emptied itself, he glanced down the street. Hey, that's Judy's car. She's back early from the grocery. And how come she's drivin' so fast?

Judith squealed the brakes as she came to the driveway. The car lurched over the curb and screeched to a stop next to Tom's.

Judith flew from her car and left the door standing open as she cried in a shrill voice “I saw him! I saw him!” She ran to Tom, clasped him fiercely, and burst into sobs.

“Easy, honey, you'll get grease all over yourself. Who did you see?”

“Grubbs! Harry Grubbs!”

“You're sure? Where?”

“Yes, I'm sure. At the grocery.” She choked back another sob. “He was standing at the end of the aisle. He was already watching me when I saw him. He had the most evil look on his face I've ever seen.”

“What did you do?”

“I left my cart sitting there and ran. I got in my car and came straight home.”

“Did he follow you?”

“I don't know! I don't know!” She gasped for breath, then spoke more slowly. “I didn't even think about watching to see if he followed me. I just wanted to get back here as fast as I could.” She burst into sobs again.

“Take it easy, honey. We can defend ourselves here.”

“Yes, but we've got to have groceries.” She sniffed, then pulled a tissue out of her purse, and wiped her eyes.

“I'll get cleaned up, and we'll go back and get them.”

He went into the garage, pulled a wood chisel off the rack, switched on the grinder, and with a shower of sparks, put a sharp edge on it. There, it may look funny, me carrying a big wood chisel, but it'll make a good spear. Wish I could carry a gun, but this'll have to do.

Minutes later, Judith was at the wheel of her car, heading back to the grocery. As she pulled into a parking space, Tom slid the chisel up his left sleeve, with the handle at the heel of his hand. I won't be able to bend my left arm, but maybe nobody'll notice.

They found the cart where she'd left it.

“Any sign of Grubbs?” Tom asked.

She looked around carefully. “I don't see him anywhere. Maybe he left when I did.”

Tom looked at the contents of the cart. “Anything in here that needs to be cooled?”

“No, I hadn't gotten to the meat or the eggs yet.”

“Okay, you just keep on going, and I'll walk behind you and watch for him.”

They finished the shopping with no sign of Grubbs, then returned home. Once in the house, Judith collapsed into a chair.

“You okay now, honey?”

“I guess so. But that was a shock. For a moment I was just paralyzed. I couldn't move. Then I wanted to scream, but couldn't. Then after what seemed like forever, with him staring at me the whole time, I just turned and ran.”

“We're safe here. You just rest. I think there's still a pizza in the freezer. I'll warm that up and we can eat. And after this, I guess I'd better go to the grocery with you. You shouldn’t have to risk running into him by yourself.”

“I hate to burden you with the shopping,” she replied.

“No help for it. It’s part of what that judge talked about at the gun training course. We just have to watch where we go, and not be predictable.”

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Copyright © 2004, Joseph P. Martino
Revised: 04:03:12