I had the hood of the car up and set of pliers in my hands. I was told to check the battery, but I was pretty gloomy about the chances it was the battery. Slowly, I loosened the bolts and exposed the galvanized posts. They were clean. No corrosion. The wires looked good. Damned if I knew...
Behind me, on the hill, stood two old guys in road leathers. Their faces were cooked red from their last ride and their bare arms were covered in tattoos: confederate flags, skulls and crosses. My neighbor Eddie plays bass in a band, but Eddie has been laid up after a series of "procedures," including an angioplasty and a double hernia.
Eddie tells me other than having heart blockages and a bad back, the doctor says he has the body of a twenty year-old. He's pushing fifty and he would be the baby in this musical outfit.
The bigger of the two men came clomping down the hill.
"Yeah," I said. "I think my starter is shot. A guy I know told me to check and clean the posts around the battery."
"That's a good place to start."
"Yeah, but it isn't doing any good."
We stared at the engine together. It wasn't going anywhere.
"Go on and turn the key," he said. "Let me take a look."
A second pair of hands and eyes was welcome. I tried the ignition.
Click, click, click...
"Hit the horn," he said.
It moaned like a lovestruck goose.
He shook his head. "Yeah, it's the starter. The horn was the giveaway. The battery is fine."
He looked deep into the organs of the car, prodded a few things, suggested tapping some part of the machinery to force it to turn, but neither of us had the appropriate stick.
In the end, he shrugged. There wasn't much he could do. He told me, if I wanted, I could crawl under the car, remove the starter, take it to an auto parts store and have them check it. I could also take a claw hammer to it. I'm a lot more handy than I used to be, but I draw the line at things I could break permanently.
I thanked him for his help.
"Hey," he said. "You should stop by Eddie's some time, when the band is practicing. You can get your fill of some great music and the holy spirit."
Right. Eddie is in a Christian biker band. Eddie plays the banjo. I'd almost forgotten.
I promised I would. Of course, I would. I might not hurry on that one, but I'll make it over. A biker band that sings about their love of the lord and can work in a banjo would be worth the trip, which is only next door.
And the car? 60 bucks for the tow. Another 400 for repairs... on a car whose warranty expired two months ago.
I hate June.
Update: Okay, officially, Jay you were right (damn you, Jay. Damn you to hell). After the mechanics got to screwing around with the car, they figured out the battery was only putting out a small charge and wasn't holding a charge. They did a check of the electrical system afterwards.
The damage to my wallet is substantially less than $400 bucks. I'm still out about $130 (with the tow), which sucks, but $130 is better than close to $500.
I still hate June.