When he was seventeen, he got his first car. It wasn't anything like what his friends and the other high schoolers his age received; it wasn't a new, shiny, red Mercedes, no new paint job, not a big, classy boat from the eighties, and it definitely wasn't a convertible. Truth be told, for the first week he had it, it didn't even have seats. The transmission was rusted through, it turned too quick, leaked gasoline, and only faded blotches of rust-red paint still stuck to its metal body. What it was, was a 1955 Ford pickup and it was his.
It was love at first sight.
He poured countless hours into that truck, worked hard on the house to up his allowance so he could buy new, red and black leather seats, a new transmission, paint, and all the other stuff he needed to make his truck into a nice, old fashioned hotrod. In the end, however, he stole a transmission from a truck beyond repair out of the junkyard, covered the pickup's body with white house paint, and bolted two old, floral print plush chairs to the frame. He even altered them so they had seatbelts. The only thing that would ever be new in that 50 year-old vehicle would be the gas.
Despite the fact that it was tacky and, in many ways, unfinished, she loved it. He wasn't her babysitter, but they spent so much time together that sometimes he wondered about it. But despite the age gap, he nineteen and she six, he could not deny that he enjoyed her company far more than that of his family and friends. And no one else, no one but her, could match his love for his truck.
"Hey, doll? Could you find me a ¾ wrench real quick?" His legs stuck out from under the belly of the pickup, overalls and sneakers stained with oil.
He smiled his thanks and took it from her gently. The heater hummed in the corner of the garage, driving out the winter cold. The child's song "Wheels on the Bus" scratched itself out of the speakers of the radio, he mouthing the words to it.
"What'cha paintin' up there, doll face?" He asked, tightening bolts and screws.
Her high-pitched drawl echoed off the walls. "What 'choo think I'm drawring? Ain't you looked outside? It sure not the Fourth of July!"
He chuckled and pushed himself out from under the truck. "You got more sass than most gals at my school, darlin'. Ya know dat?"
She stuck her lips out in a pout and went back to painting his car. She was doused in green and red paint up to her elbows, pink and purple and other colors specking bits of her cheeks, hair, and overalls. A big, round Santa Claus face, complete with red hat and dripping green beard, grinned at him merrily. Hindquarters still on his skateboard, he slid himself inbetween her and the 55 and imitated Santa's wide, goofy smile, making her laugh and laugh until she fell onto her butt. Still grinning, he got up and tickled her.
"Last time I checked, Santy Claus didn't have no green beard, darlin'!"
She laughed helplessly, curling around his dirty hands. "That's 'cause… he's the aliens' Santy!"
He gasped dramatically. "Aliens! Oh, lordy, what'm I gonna do if they abduct my truck lookin' fer 'im, doll face?"
"Then… hahaha, you jes'll hafta get a new truck!"
He finally pulled away, putting his hands on his hips. His black eyes glinted with amusement. "A new truck? And let them aliens have ol' Beatrice all to themselves? I don' think so, darlin'! 'Sides, next thing ya know, they'll be comin' back 'round an' abductin' Daddy's cattle!"
She stuck her little, strawberry pink tongue out at him. He stuck out his.
It never seemed to facinate him how she wanted to work with cars like him when she was older. "I'ma paint cars, like Rodey's pick'm up truck!" she always said. Looking at the mess of green Christmas trees, red snowflakes, and alien Santa's adorning his truck this season, she had a long way to go before she became a professional. A small pink and yellow angel adorned the spot above his left, back tire. He smiled at it, almost a little sad that he'd be washing it all away once the holidays were over.
But, he supposed, it would be covered in pink and red St. Valentines' hearts soon enough, quickly followed by bright green leprochauns and pots of yellow gold coins.
He slapped his palms on his knees. "I think it's time for a break, darlin'. I got a cravin' for some Moose Track ice cream, how 'bout you?"
"Ice cream?" she exclaimed, honey-brown eyes glaring from under her thick, chestnut bangs. "It's the middle of gawd dang winter, silly! You tryin' to make me freeze to deth?"
He laughed heartily, hefting her onto his shoulders. "Not at all, Katy, doll! 'Sides, I gotta get you cleaned up 'afore your Mama comes ta pick you up or she'll give me a right scoldin'."
"Serves you righ'! I hate baths!"