The boy gets back his car and his wooden cross. Borrowed to the Bone. Chapter 14
February 1, 2013
The door was up and the lights were on in the shop. Sparks flew as a man hammered a piece of iron on an anvil. The light and warmth from the fire made his skin appear the same red color as the iron he was hammering. Sparks and smoke danced as the man cranked his forge.
Ben Tom hung his head out the window in the crisp air and inhaled the smell of hot metal and coals. “That’s the cabbie.”
As the man worked bellows and made his fire hotter, Ben Tom opened the car door and slammed it harder than necessary. He tried to make himself seen as he approached the open door to the shop to keep from startling him. He needn’t have.
The cabbie smiled and looked up as if he had been expecting him. “Appreciate your dropping by, Ben Tom. Expected you a little sooner. That Willy in the driver’s seat?”
Ben Tom nodded and motioned for Willy to join them. He wandered around the building, examining the tables and walls full of tongs, trivets, meat hooks, candle holders, triangular dinner bells, and ornamental fences. “You make all this?”
The cabbie put down his hammer. “Most of it. Some of it was made by students.”
“I have a few folks want to learn how to work with hot iron.”
“You teach people how to become smithies?”
“Sometimes. You interested?”
Ben Tom stared at the red coals that illuminated the cabbie’s face. “Would be if I could afford to pay, but I can’t.”
“Won’t be a problem. I keep what you make and sell it. We split the profits. Deal?”
Willy had looked over the collection of forged metal and was bored. “Say, what’s your name, anyway?”
The cabbie smiled. “Deacon. Deacon Slater.”
“Deacon, huh? That some kinda church title or your real name?
“It’s my real name.”
“Why would you teach my brother how to be a blacksmith?”
“Because I like him and I have a feeling he just might be good at it. You boys find a place to stay yet?”
Ben Tom shook his head. He did not want to admit the desperation he was beginning to feel. “We’re working on it, though.”
Deacon pointed a pair of tongs toward a door in the back of the shop. “Take a look in that room back there. See if it suits you.”
The room had bunk beds, a worn couch, and a maple dining room suite with three chairs. The finish was worn off the table and chairs. Where most would see worn out furniture, Ben Tom saw collectibles and started thinking of buying the pieces. There was a hot plate, a refrigerator, a sink that hung from the wall with a leaky faucet and a bathroom in one corner. A window looked out on the back yard.
Willy was again wary when they walked back into the shop. “What is that place? Looks like a hideout or something. You in trouble with the law?”
“I lived in there a few months while I remodeled the old house I live in now. Some of my AA buddies use it as a place to dry out once in a while. Everything still works, but it could use a paint job and a little maintenance. I got the paint. You boys take care of that and I’ll let you stay rent free for a couple of months.”
Ben Tom did not hesitate. “We’ll pay as soon as we can get back on to jobs somewhere. That your car you got covered in the carport?”
Deacon reached into his pocket and withdrew something as he walked toward the car. He opened his palm to reveal Ben Tom’s cross.
Ben Tom sucked in an audible breath. “That was hanging from the rear view mirror in my car.”
Deacon pulled back enough of the tarp for Ben Tom to see a fender. The boy felt lightheaded when he recognized his handiwork. “How did you get it?”
“Four one hundred dollar bills at the pound auction. Highway robbery, but I was still lucky to catch it.” Deacon stared at Ben Tom for several seconds, trying to judge his reaction. Ben Tom was speechless.
Deacon finally chuckled. “Fellow down the street already offered me five for it. I don’t like him much, though. He doesn’t take care of his vehicles. If you think you can come up with the four I paid, I’ll hold it for you. Man builds a car from scratch, he deserves to keep it.”
Ben Tom did not hesitate. His world outlook had changed in a matter of minutes, and his voice was filled with determination. “I’ll come up with the money.”
“I’ve got to finish one piece before the forge gives out. You boys go collect your things and I’ll be done by the time you get back.”
He took Ben Tom’s hand and pressed the wooden cross into his palm. “Hang onto this a little better from now on. Never know when you’ll be needing it.”
To read previous episodes of the novel, please to the left side of this page and click Borrowed to the Bone beneath VG Serials. Chapters of the novel are published on Friday.
Chapters of the serial are published on Friday.
You can learn more about Borrowed to the Bone and other titles by Jim H. Ainsworth on his Amazon Author Page.