When Motorhead returned from lunch, the mail box in front of Motorheadquarters was brimming with cards and letters. I grabbed the correspondence in two handfuls, entered the shop and plunked the pile down on the counter.
Guacamoto, my usually cheery assistant and spiritual advisor, was a picture of gloom when he approached and scanned the stack of mail. The hundreds of tiny bells on the ends of his cornrows were silent, and his brown face was sadder then I've ever seen.
I said, "What's the matter, good buddy? You look like you've just found your favorite puppy stuffed in your sock drawer."
Guac didn't laugh, didn't grin, and revealed no sign that he appreciated the joke. "Your attempt at levity will not help to solve my problem."
Frustrated with him, I said, "Why don't you share your problem with me? Maybe I can help. Is it Narleen?"
Narleen, Motorhead's kid sister and a valuable asset to Motorheadquarters, was obviously angry with Guacamoto and stalked out of the shop a few weeks ago. She has not as yet returned. "You know," I told Guac, "that when she finds herself in emotional turmoil, she sometimes runs away to search her soul. She'll be back."
Guac stood and stared into my eyes. He seemed to be choosing his words carefully. At last he said, "Motorhead, I am touched by your concern, but I can take care of myself emotionally. My problem is your problem, too.
"It's this Toyota Tercel wagon. I cannot figure out why the heater blower won't function. I've checked the fuses. I've tested the relays. Everything seems to be in order, yet the fan will not blow.
"If you're bent on helping me, solve this puzzle and surely my mood will improve."
I sighed a long sigh that suggested the Tercel's fan couldn't be the sole source of Guac's unhappiness. I grabbed a circuit tester and crawled under the dashboard like a contortionist. I retested the circuits and found them to be as Guac had said.
Then I traced the wires to the fan motor itself. When I unplugged the two-wire connector to the side of the motor, the problem became apparent.
The positive terminal was coated with green flaky corrosion and wasn't allowing electricity to flow to the motor. I unfolded myself from the bottom of the passenger's seat, walked to Box o' Tools and retrieved a pair of dental tools. Like a hygienist, I began to scrape the offending plaque from the connector. When the terminals were shiny and clean, I plugged the wires back into the fan motor.
"Okay, now try it," I hollered from my subdashian perch. Guacamoto, still skeptical, turned on the key and hit the fan switch. The motor roared to life. He grinned the broad grin to which I was accustomed.
I went back to sorting mail, and Guac wrapped up the Tercel. He pulled the Toyota out of the shop and parked it. He returned to my side, completed the repair order and said, "You know, Moe, I haven't been completely honest with you or myself. The night before Narleen stormed out of here we had words. Not exactly Œwords' words, but an underlying sort of communication.
"When I gave her that antler ring, I knew she thought it meant something heavy, like an engagement ring. But I took away her bluster by emphasizing that it only symbolized friendship. That was when she drove off and left me sitting there feeling like an idiot.
"The corrosion you cleaned from those fan terminals sparked the realization that by throwing up senseless barriers to protect myself, I'm keeping my own fan of love from blasting out of my defroster ducts and clearing the windshield of my soul. I think I'm falling in love with her.
"What can I do? How can I clean the corrosion from the terminals of our relationship and let her know that I'm willing to try again?"
I put my arm around his shoulder. "I'm no Dear Abby, but why don't you pick your heart up off the floor, stick it back inside your rib cage and check out this postcard from Narleen."
Guac's eyes got wide and he read aloud: "Dear Tall-Dark-and-Handsome,
I've had a vision quest of my own and I'm returning because I've missed you sorely and I'm ready to work at polishing our friendship.
Dust off my tool box, I'm ready to work on cars, too. See you both soon.
Guacamoto and I just stared at each other. Then we started to giggle and laugh like loonies. Then we were in a crazy embrace, dancing an ecstatic dance around the shop.
We stopped, dizzy, and staggered back to the counter. "Why don't we shut down the shop, pop down to the pub and toast our joy and my sister?"
Guac grinned a grin that I thought would crack his face and said, "I'm with you Motoman."