Christmas at de Obras’ Garage
by Jeff Baker
The radio in the garage was playing “White Christmas,” after playing the weather forecast for temperatures in the 60s through New Year’s. Typical for Pending, Kansas, Eddie de Obras thought as he made sure the fridge was stocked with sodas. There was a little wire Christmas tree on top of the fridge, with little red balls running all the way through it. It was up there all year round and had been there since Eddie had been little.
Eddie stood there and looked out the doorway. Maybe he ought to close the big garage door. No, he’d wait until everybody got there.
“Wow,” he breathed. Christmas Eve, 1983. Ten years earlier he might have been waiting up for Santa Claus.
“Hey, Eddie!” Called a familiar voice. Buddy Sykes, tall and thin was ambling towards the garage. “Eat everything yet?”
“Naaah, you’re the first one here.” Eddie said.
The old garage had been their hangout when his Dad wasn’t using it as his workshop. He’d built a new garage attached to the house instead of this one that dated back to the 1920s. He’d hung a big sign just inside the door: “de Obras’ Garage.”
Twenty minutes later they were all in the garage, seated on makeshift chairs and his Dad’s workbench. Liza, Scott, Buddy, Cheyenne and Marcus. They’d hung out in the garage all through junior and senior high school; sharing stories, snacking and drinking the occasional beer they shouldn’t have had. And now, High School was over.
“Okay,” Eddie said standing up, can of soda in hand. “This may not be our last Christmas getting together but Buddy and Cheyenne are going off to college next year so we’re all going to be different. Growing up.”
“Yeah,” Scott said, munching on a chip.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen to us as we go our separate ways, but I know we all wanted this last evening here in the garage.”
“Yeah, that’s why we all sprang for the soda, chips and dip,” Lisa said.
The others laughed.
“I figure that’s our Christmas present to each other,” Eddie said.
“Remember when Scott snuck out of his house and spent the night here?” Buddy said.
They all nodded.
“Hey, I was supposed to meet a girl here!” Scott protested. “She never showed.”
They all laughed. Scott glanced at Eddie and grinned. That had really been the night he’d had a blowup with his Dad and had left the house. Eddie had brought leftovers out to him. They’d been what? Thirteen years old?
They were all approaching nineteen now.
“So, I raise my glass to you,” Eddie said.
“You mean you raise your can?” Cheyenne said. More laughter.
“Okay, I’ve got something to say,” Marcus said standing up, pulling out a paper bag.
“He’s gonna get mushy,” Lisa said.
“I know we agreed no presents…” Marcus said.
“We can never afford them anyway.” Eddie said.
“But this is a special night,” Marcus said. “And I thought we’d want something to remember it by. To remember us by. Besides, I owe all of you money.” Marcus grinned and held the bag up higher “So everybody reach in and grab one.”
“Better not be full of yogurt or something,” Buddy grumbled.
They each reached into the bag as Marcus held it near each of them in turn. Each one pulled out a small, solid plastic car, the kind they would find in a toy bin somewhere that would fit in a little kid’s hand.
“I got them over at the truck stop in Millington on my delivery route,” Marcus said. “Somehow I thought of you guys.”
They looked at the little cars. No moving wheels, just solid plastic, Nonetheless, Scott scooted his across his legs and made a “Vroom” sound.
“I know it’s silly, and yeah it’s mushy…” Marcus said. “But, Merry Christmas, okay?”
“Yeah.” “Merry Christmas.” “Thanks.”
They looked around at each other. They weren’t kids anymore.
“Okay, pass me some more of that dip,” Lisa said.
The summer sunlight shone in through the open garage door as the little girl ran into the garage.
“Whatcha doin’ Granpa?” She asked.
“Just straightening up some stuff.” Eddie said. “Wanna help?”
Eddie de Obras picked up his granddaughter and set her on the workbench. No glass or anything sharp there, he noted. Couldn’t lift stuff as easy as he could when he was younger than fifty-seven.
“Hey, what’s this?”she asked pulling something off the top shelf and turning it over in her hands.
It was a faded, green plastic car.
Eddie grinned. “A memory, sweetie,” he said. “Here, set that back down and let’s go see if Grandma has lunch ready, okay?”
“Okay!” she said, climbing down to the floor.
Eddie de Obras followed his granddaughter out the garage, turning and pausing to glance back at his younger years as he shut the door.
As should be obvious, this is a riff on the gang hanging out in the basement on “That 70’s Show.” It actually came to me in a dream a few months ago when I was dozing off.
ABOUT THAT PICTURE;
The prompt picture was taken by me in early January 2020 at a convenience store and inspired a different and yet unwritten story, but I decided to go with “Christmas at de Obra’s Garage”
We’re taking a break for the weeks after Christmas and New Year’s and we’ll have another prompt pic on Friday January 6, 2023 (!!!)
On behalf of my Husband Darryl and myself, I wish all my readers the very best for this Holiday season! —–jeff