Sunday, February 9, 2014

News on Wrenching!

Wrenching is the title of my next release. I just got the nifty cover and the good news that this PAX will be coming out on March 16, just a bit over a month away! I think I mentioned how five of us elected to do stories for a theme of "it happened in a garage"  and I think the PAX title will be Grease Monkeys. All five stories are going to involve a character who is a mechanic of some kind, generally auto or truck. But there I am sure will be the point of departure since I know all five of us are going to offer up very different tales!

Mine begins with readers meeting Malachi "Mal" Dunbar who is a mechanic with the handicap of a mangled left hand he injured as a teenager but has managed to overcome and excel in his trade. When his secret crush and hero comes into the garage where he works with a problem, Mal has a chance to show his skills and soon to provide some really valuable help to the man of his dreams, rancher Dan Winslow. Who knows where this is going to go!

I'll give you a pre-edit excerpt in a minute. Here is the cover, which I think is just great! But man, that is one big tool, huh?! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge!! I have been a helper and go-fer to several mechanics who were key people in my life and would say that is about a 2" or larger combo wrench and would be used mostly on heavy equipment or a really big truck but it is a  nice prop here with some suggestive implications. This man knows tools and how to use them! More details soon so stay tuned!


Copper Canyon, NM
Early spring

Malachi Dunbar deftly twisted the wrench to secure the wheel bearing he had just installed on a customer’s pickup. Few who saw him with his tragically deformed left hand would imagine how skilled and capable he was at his chosen trade of auto mechanic. Determination, perseverance and creative use of the abilities one had could take a person a long way. Especially if you pursued your goal with dogged persistence and never took no for an answer, not even your own personal nos.
When he heard a noise outside the bay of the garage where he worked, Mal wriggled out from under the truck and went to investigate. Normally he left dealing with customers to his boss, but Ben was out this afternoon, taking his very pregnant wife to the doctor. It was an excuse even Mal could not argue with, so he’d agreed to mind the store as well as carry on with his normal work.
When he saw who stood just inside the door of the office and parts store section he rued his acceptance. There stood the last person he wanted to see and deal with. Hero, and subject of both envy and passionate longing, Daniel Winslow probably didn’t know Mal existed. Why should he? Heir to the largest and most successful ranch in the area, he always appearing cool, collected and in control. Dan gave the impression he had the world on the end of his lasso, branded and ear notched with the Flying W’s marks.
Still, Dan looked decidedly anxious and troubled, if the expression on his face was a valid clue. Mal wasn’t quite sure if he was seeing anger, worry, sadness or a mixture of all three on his idol’s face but he did recognize he’d have to deal with Dan, whatever it was.
He cleared his throat, trying to find his voice somewhere down behind his breast bone. For a few seconds words absolutely refused to come. Finally he managed to croak a facsimile of, “Can I help you with something, Mr. Winslow?”
Dan wheeled toward him. “Er, is Ben around?”
Mal shook his head. “Nope, sorry. He had some business in Los Mercados. Won’t be back in until tomorrow morning.”
Dan growled what sounded like a muffled cuss word. Then he gave a half-irritated shrug. “Okay, then. I know you do the work anyway, at least most of the time. If I leave the pickup, can you check it out? The brakes seem to be going. I really don’t want to drive it another yard until someone can determine what’s going on. My foreman’ll be along in a few minutes to take me home so I don’t need a loaner.”
Mal managed not to stutter or show a tenth of the feelings roiling through him. Although Dan stood not an arm’s length away, he’d better not do anything stupid. Instead he turned toward the cluttered desk where Ben did the paperwork for the shop.
“Sure, you can leave the truck. I wouldn’t want to drive up or down Alamo Canyon Road with iffy brakes myself. Let me write out a work order for you.” Finding the right pad of forms and a pen took enough attention that he regained some focus so his good hand only shook a little as he filled out the information. Then he gave the pad to Dan, careful not to touch the other man’s hand.
“I’ll need you to sign this and then I’ll give you a copy to keep while we work on your truck. Not that it isn’t immediately recognizable as yours. Everyone knows the Flying W brand and this particular Silverado, at least everyone in Copper Canyon.”
Dan scrawled his name across the line and handed the pad back. “Thanks. Do you want to me to call Ben in the morning or can you explain to him?”
“I’ll take care of it unless you feel a need to speak to him,” Mal said. “You’re a regular customer so I doubt he’ll have any questions but he can call if he needs to.”
“All right.” Dan nodded. “Good. Thanks.” The single toot of a horn apparently alerted him that his ride had arrived. He spun and started toward  the door. Mal stood and watched as the other man headed for a pickup, a much dustier, older and well-worn one than the shiny blue and white Silverado he left behind. He had to admire the horseman’s trim ass, set off by a snug pair of Wranglers, as he lifted a leg to climb into the cab.
Dan—make that Mr. Winslow—was one good looking guy. Chocolate colored hair that curled a bit behind his ears and along the edge of a silver-gray Stetson, a matching mustache, and the greenest eyes Mal had ever seen. Almost too pretty but all man despite his looks.
Well of all the fucking luck. I hope I handled that okay. I know Winslow is a regular customer and kind of a pal of Ben’s from way back. At least he didn’t make a comment about my hand or whether or not I could do the work. Maybe he didn’t notice it  or even care.
He exhaled a ragged half-sigh as he went to open the door on the garage’s empty bay. Then he carefully drove the Silverado in and set the emergency brake. A few minutes later, after securing the braces under the pickup, he manipulated the hydraulic lift to raise the truck. He locked it down high enough he could stand underneath to examine the lines and the rest of the brake system. The truck was only a few months old, so a sudden failure seemed peculiar, even downright unlikely. Mal had to wonder what was going on, what he’d discover.

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