Staring at these men, I feel myself quiver. They’ve told me they aren’t like them, but I don’t believe it. They look like the ones who had me, with their leather vest and colorful patches. They aren’t similar to the ones I’ve seen, but who says that matters? I glance between the two, one named Bear and the other named Gears. What names are those? My eyes bounce between the two, their tense voices. “Well then, get out of here Bear. See if I give a damn, I’d rather be here than listening to you or Welder.” Gears speaks with a monotone drawl, his fist clenched.
Gears isn’t tall like Bear; he’s built more sturdy. He stands at an average height, but looks like he’s meant to bench press a truck. Bear looks at him and his face darkens with rage; he turns and stomps down the steps. “Fuck it! I have shit to deal with.” Bear gets on his bike, starting it with ease before he punches the throttle. He tosses dirt everywhere as he races off. I stare at Gears form as he pants with anger, a scowl frozen on his features. I don’t like it when they do this.
“Were you two fighting about me?” I ask, my voice inaudible almost, I don’t want to anger him anymore. I feel the most comfortable around Gears, well him and Forger. He’s cool too. Gears turns to look at me with a sigh and gives his head a shake.
“Nah, we weren’t fighting about you Case.” I watch as he turns his focus locked on the settling dust. I look down at the ground, I rub at a spot of dirt on the porch. The oversized shirt and leggings have become my new apparel; I enjoy wearing this stuff more. I’m not exposed.
“He looked mad at me.” Taking a chance, I peer up at him, Gears pushes a hand through his hair, before he drops the appendage again.
“Bear just doesn’t know what he’s doing.” Gears walks back up the porch, taking a seat in the old rocker Forger had placed there. He says every porch should have one, it’s the best kind of music to listen to. I take a seat on the swing, my feet hang, I’ve always been short.
“I don’t want to be a burden to you guys.” I speak up before I even meant to. Gears gives me a smile.
“You aren’t a burden Case, he just worries. He’s taking over as President, Welder is stepping down. Right now he’s worried about you, this place, coming out here to find you hurt or worse dead.” I shrug at his words. I’m learning more about survival, learning how to keep myself alive.
“I’m getting better with it all. I’ll learn, I’ll make sure I can take care of this place. I don’t want you guys to worry so much about me.”
“You’re making us proud, Case. You’ve come so far, everything that you continue to do. You don’t give up, if you’re not careful you’ll earn a nickname with us.” I smile at his words. A blush works its way to my cheeks. They don’t view me as an invalid, I’m nothing like I was when I first came here, I’m proud of that. I’m slowly changing for the better.
“Do you think I’ll be able to make it out here?” I gaze up at Gears, his eyes filled with a strange emotion, one I haven’t seen before.
“Case, I think you’re going to be one of the few people that’ll strive out here.” I give Gears a shy smile, I really do like hearing his words. “Come on girl, it’s time to do some work.” I stand up, looking around. I really do like to learn, it’s interesting. Gears walks me to the machine building, or the mechanic’s dream as he calls it.
“What are we going to be doing today?” I feel myself bounce with excitement, I love getting to work with my hands. I’m learning so much from these guys, the more I do, the more excited I become. I can’t help but get excited with everything. Gears looks over his shoulder at me with a thoughtful look.
“Well, one of the first things you should know is how to fix the machine’s you are going to need out here.” I stop looking at him.
“Do I need the machines?” He chuckles, giving me a nod in answer.
“Machines aren’t a bad thing, they can help with everything. Make it quicker and more efficient. Trust me, machines are your best friends, something you should know is how to fix them.” Gears opens the side door of the shop, turning on the lights as he goes. I trail in behind him as he pulls the door shut; the large metal building is heated, more so than outside. It doesn’t take long for a sweat to pop up on my skin. I watch as Gears walks to the front, rolling up the door. The large door rattles on its way up.
“How do you figure out what needs to be fixed?” Gears turns to look at me with a grin; walking back to an old tractor, he climbs up and starts it, only to produce nothing.
“That’s the best part about machines. Once you learn the symptoms, you can always track the problem. With the tractor, it won’t start, right?” I nod, looking at it.
“There was a funny noise, what’s that supposed to mean?” I feel myself tilt my head as he pops open the hood.
“Well, that could mean a few things. Bad gas, bad battery, or a bad starter or ignition coils. With this it’s easy, I can show you what to look at to find the issue.” Gears points to the front tire and I climb up. Holding onto the metal shell of the old tractor, I look in the compartment, surprised by all the bits and pieces in it. “I want you to pay attention to this right here alright?” I nod in answer, looking at the chunk of metal, not sure what I’m looking at or what it’s supposed to be.
He turns the key once more, and that same sound comes across. It doesn’t sound like it normally does when you start it. The grinding noise that comes out doesn’t sound good. The piece of metal shakes as he turns the key, the noise finally stops before a whining starts and I wince. That doesn’t sound good. He stops, turning the key to let the mechanism rest. “What did you hear?” Gears asks, steps down from the seat to come closer to where I am.
“I heard a grinding and a whining.” He nods with a slight smile.
“Good job; both noises are coming from the starter. The starter isn’t engaging the flywheel, that’s right here.” He points to a large gear looking thing, hooked up to what I know is the motor. The rest of it I don’t understand. “The flywheel works with the crankshaft to engage the spark - that’s what starts the engine up.”
“What’s sparking?” Gears smiles at my question, looking inside the compartment.
“Well, the engine runs on a system; suck, bang, blow.” He pauses, making me look at him with a funny look, I’m sure. What does that mean? He chuckles as he looks back at the engine. “Suck, is for when it sucks in a mixture of air and fuel. Bang, when the piston compresses the mixture and the spark plug ignites the mixture. Blow, is for the exhaust that’s released.” Suck, bang, blow, I crack a grin thinking about it. It’s a funny way to remember it.
“So the starter is broken? Do you just buy a new one?” He shrugs, looking at me.
“You can, but it’s cheaper to find out what’s wrong with it, and fix it. That way you don’t need to waste money on it.” I nod, looking back at the starter.
“So how do you fix it?” Gears chuckles at me; he walks off, picking up random tools to set on a rolling cart.
“Well, I’m going to teach you how you can fix it.”