The wind whistled in Ben Whindercock's ear as he made his way out of work and into the office parking lot. He could hear the dead leaves of autumn scuttling across the pavement as he unlocked the door to his Sedan. Ben had just finished his day's work, but was not looking forward to going home.
Ben's life was strictly average. He had a mediocre job working for a crabby old man he didn't like. He had a wife, a son, a daughter, and a baby, nothing unusual about any of them. His home was like any other home in the suburbs, with the same two-story setup and front lawn. Life was simply ordinary, tedious, and often… boring.
Ben hated his lifestyle. He wanted excitement, adventure, action, anything but what he had. Life was meaningless. He grumbled to himself as he thought of this, putting his keys into the ignition of the car and starting up the engine.
Pulling out of the parking lot and steering into traffic, Ben began to drive home. The streets were crammed with cars, line after line backed up for too many miles to count. Ben angrily waited in the jumble of non-moving traffic, sitting for hours as he tapped his fingers impatiently against the leather of the car wheel, glancing at his watch frequently. He'd never get home at this rate.
"Stupid traffic," Ben growled to himself, turning onto a rural dirt road on his left. This route would mean a longer drive home, but he'd rather take this path than stay grid locked in traffic. Harvested fields of crops flickered past as Ben sped down the road, his car tires bouncing against the rocks and ruts scattered haphazardly in the dirt. Alone on the road, Ben couldn't see a single house, telephone pole, or electric line for miles. It was just Ben, his car, and the fields of emptiness.
The engine growled and as hot, like the sound of a gun being fired, sounded from near the exhaust pipe. Tired, frustrated, and sick of being on the dirt road, Ben decided to ignore it, even when the car made the same noise three more times. He drove on for another thirty minutes, the car engine spouting over and over again until, finally, it nearly exploded. The car came to an immediate halt but no matter how many times Ben tried to restart the engine, turning the key back and forth in the ignition, he couldn't move the vehicle an inch.
Enraged, Ben slammed his foot on the accelerator and shouted, "You stupid car! Go! Go!" Nothing happened. Thrusting the car door open, Ben jumped out of his seat and flung up the hood of his car, inspecting the engine. A white stream of steam emitted from the radiator, the hot air just skimming past Ben's face. He glared at the radiator, which seemed to hiss at him mockingly.
"Stupid radiator," Ben growled. "Be quiet." It's very rare for inanimate objects to comply with orders, though, and the radiator was no different. It continued to hiss.
"Stop!" Ben shouted, his voice echoing in the vast fields of emptiness. He slammed the hood of his car and kicked the tire.
Everything inside Ben tumbled into one huge crashing wave then. His stupid job. His stupid car. His stupid life. Burying his face in his hands and slumping against the frame of the Sedan onto the cold wet ground, Ben broke down into tears and began to cry. Never before in his life had he felt so hopeless.
"Someth'n wrong, sonny?" said a deep croaky voice. Looking up, Ben saw a withered old man with silvery white hair and shining gray eyes. He was smiling broadly at Ben, and if Ben wasn't mistaken, he was sure he could see those gray eyes sparkling.
Ben replied through tears, "My car broke down and I need to get home. Do you think you could help?"
"I don't make promises, but I can sure as heck try," the old man chuckled. He put out his hand, thin and pale, helping Ben up from the ground. Smiling again, the man led Ben over to the hood of the car and they inspected the engine.
"I don't know anything about cars, so there's really no way for me to fix it," Ben sighed.
"Hmm…" the old man scratched his chin and paused to think. Then, after taking a second look at the car, he nodded his head, "I can fix 'er up for you."
The old man tightened a few caps and adjusted some wires as Ben watched him eagerly. He could see the old man finger the car parts quickly and swiftly as he reattached each broken piece back together. The old man didn't seem satisfied, though, until he pulled a lapel in the shape of a dove from his breast pocket and jimmied it into the engine.
Finally, the old man said, "Start 'er engine up now and see if she works."
Ben, hoping his car was truly fixed, rushed back into the driver's seat and started the ignition. The low rumble of the motor stumbled a few times at first, but after some wheezing coughs, it was smooth and hummed quietly. Ben leaped out of the car and embraced the old man, who laughed at him heartily.
"Thank-you, thank-you! How can I ever repay you?" Ben cried.
"No need to thank me," the old man chuckled. "I just wanted to help out a friend in need."
"At least tell me your name," begged Ben. "Maybe I could send you a check in the mail? Or have you over for dinner?"
"My name's Jerry Grimes," said the old man, "and don't you think noth'n of it." Ben was sure he could still see that unusual sparkle shimmering in Jerry's eyes. He shook Jerry's hand firmly and knew it was time to be getting home. For the first time in a long time, home sounded like the best place in the world.
The night at dinner, Ben eagerly told the story of Jerry to his family.
"And just like that," Ben said to this children, who were all listening very closely to his story, "the engine of my car was fixed and I was on my way home."
Ben's wife rolled her eyes, "Jerry Grimes, honey?? He's one of the most famous men in history who tried to bring peace to the world. Jerry Grimes was a great loving man that managed to win a Nobel Peace prize. And you think he helped you fix his car? You always did exaggerate your stories…"
"Look Daddy," said Ben's daughter emerging from the study holding a book in her hand. She flipped open the book and showed the page to her father. Ben gaped at the picture. Staring up at him were the same two mysterious gray eyes and on his suit was the same lapel Ben recalled Jerry using to fix his car.
"That's him!" Ben exclaimed. "What a coincidence! Jerry Grimes, world famous peace maker, helped me this afternoon."
Silence followed Ben's revelation. No one at the table moved or spoke.
"What's wrong?" Ben asked. "Why are you all staring at me? What did I say?"
"Ben," said his wife softly, "Jerry Grimes is dead."
"Dead?" Ben said. "How can he be dead? He helped me fix my car this afternoon."
"Look right here, Daddy. It tells you when he was born and when he died and it says he died ten years ago," Ben's daughter explained, pointing to a caption underneath the old man's picture.
Ben couldn't believe what he was hearing. Without saying another word, Ben jumped from the table and rushed outside to his car. He flung the vehicle of the hood pen and quickly searched the engine for the lapel. His eyes wandered over every wire and piece Jerry's hands had previously roamed over, but to no avail. The lapel piece was gone.
A/N: I originally wrote this a few years ago. I am glad to observe that I have improved as a writer since I completed this piece. The story seems somewhat cheesy to me now, but I'm not completed disgusted with it. I had an actual author help me edit it at the time. I suppose it is a good example of some of my earlier works.