This is the twenty-seventh part of a fiction serial, in 717 words.
Billy smiled as he gently revved the engine. “Why don’t you jump in, Edgar? I will give you a turn round the block, bring back some memories for you”. Edgar shook his head. “Thanks all the same, but it’s a mission for me to get in and out of a car these days. Just the taxi journey to the doctor or a hospital appointment wears me out”. Switching off the engine, Billy handed the keys back. “Tell you what, next time I’m here I will wash and polish her after I finish work. No charge, okay?” Then he carefully replaced the tarpaulin.
Back in the house, Edgar found his wife watching through the side window. “You might just as well sell that car now, or at least keep it in the garage now that’s empty. There doesn’t seem to be any point in keeping it when you can’t drive. And Billy is not our son, Edgar. He’s nothing like him”. When he didn’t reply, Milly went into the kitchen to prepare some vegetables.
Other than cutting the grass of the old lady in Terrington St Clement and keeping his word to the vicar in Walpole St Andrew to cut the grass in the graveyard, Billy worked on the Lexham house for the next eight weeks. As well as changing the garden layout and painting all the window frames, he worked inside too, painting the bannisters on the stairs, laying new flooring in the bathroom, and clearing out a lot of stuff from the loft. Then one Monday morning, he arrived to find a large ‘FOR SALE’ sign on the front lawn. Milly Lexham answered the door.
“My husband is in bed, Billy. He wants you to go up and see him. It’s the front bedroom, the door is open”. Wiping his dusty boots on the doormat, Billy walked upstairs as requested. Edgar didn’t look too good. His skin had a waxy appearance, and there was a big oxygen cylinder next to the bed. “Come in Billy, sit on the end of the bed”. He reached over and picked up a large brown envelope. “The work here is finished now, and the house is on the market. Our agent is expecting a quick sale, as we are asking a very fair price. I wanted to thank you for all you have done, and give you this”.
Opening the metal clip securing the envelope, he tipped out the contents on the bed. There was a registration log book for the car, two sets of keys for it, and one hundred pounds in ten pound notes. Edgar wheezed as he spoke again. “You will need to tax it and insure it of course, but the car is yours. A gift from my wife and I for all your hard work. And the extra money is a bonus to make sure you have enough to get the car legal. I doubt I will ever see you again, so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you well, and hope that you have a good life”.
I wasn’t often that Billy got emotional, but he fought back some tears as he put the things back in the envelope. He stood up, and extended his hand. “You’re a true gentleman, Edgar, and I thank you for the respect you have shown me, and your kindness of the gift of the car and money. I will go and get old Oliver, so he can drive the Land Rover back when I take the car”. Afraid he might cry in front of Edgar, he sniffed loudly, and took his leave. As he was opening the front door, Milly Lexham appeared, holding a brown paper bag. “Sorry there is no work today or in the future, but here’s your lunch anyway”.
Tears rolled slowly down the young man’s face. One heavy tear from each of his eyes.
Oliver was impressed with the gifts, and happy to drive Billy back to collect the Cortina. Once the tarpaulin was removed, he whistled. “She’s a beauty, right enough boy”.
As the engine started, Billy nodded. “And a good runner too. See you back at home”.
That night as they sat drinking some cider, Oliver chuckled.
“Don’t s’pose you mentioned to him that you don’t have no driving licence?”