This coming-of-age novel is very close to my heart. I wrote it in one month during NaNoWriMo and it's based on many elements in my own life. The relationship between the eighteen-year-old and his ninety-five-year old grandfather is very special. At times, they didn't see eye-to-eye, but in the end they both learned a lot of things about one another from their road trip...especially Wil.
Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I draw from my own experiences most of the time to create both the characters and the story plots that I do. Yes, I have quite a few Works In Progress, but I go from one to the other as the inspiration hits me. Others, I can write out within a week when that inspiration is strong...just like with this novel.
Take the time to tackle one of those Works In Progress you have on the go, or even start one, on something that inspires you most in your life.
After all, we don't know how long we have in this precious world.
Make the most of it.
Here is a snippet from this book that I love so much.
Wil had the worst sleep. So he wasn't impressed with being shaken awake just as daylight blared through his window.
"Blast it all, boy! Get up!"
"Gramps, for the love of all that's good in the world. It's Saturday. I don't have to work, and I just want to sleep in. With all due respect, and there isn't much at the moment, get out!"
"You pick your lazy butt up off that bed and haul it downstairs in the next five minutes, or I'll pour all the coffee down the sink."
Wil opened his eyes as wide as he could. He made out the fuzzy image of his grandfather perched on the edge of his bed, the man's hand still on Wil's forearm. "What is your problem? What can't wait for another couple of hours?"
Gramps didn't answer. He just stood up, gave Wil one last shake, then walked out.
Wil rolled over on his back and put his pillow over his face. I wonder how much time I'd have to serve, offing a guy his age, he thought. Really. The courts would be empathetic if they knew what it was really like to deal with him.
He groaned, threw his pillow across the room, and then lugged himself up to a sitting position. He reached down and pulled the same clothes on that he'd worn the day before. If Gramps made him get up that early, Wil wasn't going to make an effort to look and smell all pretty.
As he walked down the stairs, the sweet aroma of coffee flooded his nostrils. Gramps was nowhere to be found, so he took the time to pour himself a cup of coffee, then yelled, "Gramps?"
"Gramps? Where are you? You wake me up before the sun has made a full appearance, and you are nowhere? Gramps?"
Still no answer.
Wil stirred cream and sugar into his coffee, turning the caffeine-packed liquid from black to a caramel color. He sideglanced to the back hall and noticed the inside back door was wide open. He tapped the spoon on the rim of his cup, tossed the spoon into the sink, then sucked a big slurp of coffee.
Ahh. A few more gulps and I'll feel half-human.
He walked over to the back hall, cup in hand, and stuffed his feet into his runners. He figured Gramps must have been out in the backyard, watering the garden or tinkering in the garage. Since he had no explanation of what he was supposed to check out, Wil figured he was expected to search it out. Not uncommon.
"Gramps? C'mon, you old goat. This hide-and-seek thing is getting lame." Wil raised his cup to take another sip when Gramps’ voice startled him, causing him to drool hot coffee down his front.
"What are you doing out here? I told you to meet me in the garage."
Wil cursed under his breath, then rubbed the coffee drips on his T-shirt. "Um, actually you didn't. You just ordered me downstairs."
"Hmph. Guess I hoped you'd be smart enough to come out here since I left the door open."
"I think you just had your hearing aid turned off."
"What are you rambling on about?"
Wil took a deep breath in through his nose, then released it slowly before replying. "Nothing. My mistake, as always. I'm coming. Just excuse me for a second or two while I nurse the thirddegree burns on my chest."
"Not my fault you have a problem with drinking."
"I don't have a drinking problem."
"You're right. The problem is getting it anywhere near your mouth in the first place, obviously."
"Alright! That's enough, already!" Wil raised his free hand. "It's too early for this, and I don't have enough coffee in me to deal with you. Just tell me what in blazes we're doing out here and what specifically I'm supposed to be doing."
Gramps walked up in Wil's face, gripping his wrist. "Let's get something straight, son. You don't talk to me that way. That sort of disrespect is exactly why we're going on our trip. Like I told you yesterday, you got things to learn…things to know…before you can be a real man in the world. Just like your dad did. He learned. You're gonna. Now get your sorry butt in that garage before I kick it across the street."
Wil yanked his arm free from Gramps’ deceptively strong hand and stormed into the garage. Hot tears stung his eyes, which he hated. He wasn't a crier and he certainly was never sensitive to his grandfather's spout-offs. Must have been the mention of his dad.
The garage was smaller than most of the other garages in their neighborhood. But it was big enough to fit Wil's run-down hatchback and some other vehicle that had been covered up by a blue tarp since Wil had moved in. He was never allowed to touch it or even know what was under it. The one time he'd tried peeking, Gramps went off on him so badly he was afraid to ever go near it again. It just became some sort of mysterious relic like all of the other things in the garage. And down in the basement. And up in the attic.
Beside the vehicles were three wooden shelves packed with mason jars filled with different kinds of screws, nails, bolts, and other things Wil neither recognized nor cared about. Under that was a small, double-door tool bench. A car jack, a crowbar, a few dirty rags, and a few other tools were scattered across the top of the bench.
Wil frowned, then put his coffee down. "What's going on, Gramps? What is all of this stuff?"
When he turned around, his grandfather stood in front of the tarp. "When your daddy found out he was having a boy, he went out and found a special gift for ya. Guess he figured it could be something the two of you could work on together. Here. Gimme a hand with this thing, will ya?"
Gramps bent down, grabbed the bottom of the tarp with both hands, then pulled. Wil rushed over to help. His heart pounded. He wasn't sure whether it was from excitement, curiosity, or the joy of being given a part of his father.
The two men slowly pulled the tarp back, gently tugging back around each crevice and part. When the vehicle was finally revealed, Wil stared at it with his mouth hanging open, the tarp still clutched in his fists.
It was a classic pickup truck with the most beautiful fire engine red paint job he'd ever seen. "Gramps. Is that a 1955 F100?"
"Yep. Your dad got it for a steal from one of his buddies' fathers. He was just gonna send it to the dump to get crushed. Your dad took it off his hands, then he and a few friends worked on it the whole time your mom was pregnant."
Wil walked around the truck, running his hands over the body. "It has a school bus chassis, body, and grille. The tires are more modern, and I have no idea how they got this backseat here, but it's…awesome!"
"Yeah, that took the longest. Guess he figured with another person coming along, he needed another seat."
"Why didn't you ever tell me about this? Or show it to me? You know how much I'm into cars."
"Your dad didn't want you to see it until you were old enough to help him work on it. Then, well, he passed on, and I just had it moved it in here. Kept it polished, did things here and there,
you know. Until I thought you were ready."
Wil's throat tightened. "You mean… this is mine?"
"It's your dad's. But I think his plan was for you to have it once it was all fixed up. You took those automotive courses in school. I'm thinking you can help take over the maintenance for me on this thing. Besides, I ain't traveling with you in that unreliable, crappy thing you drive around in."
The young man spun around to face his grandfather. "You mean, we're going to drive this on that trip you want to take? For real?"
Gramps nodded. "Here's the deal, son. You help me get that old truck up to snuff in the next two weeks, and we'll drive it. You got time with exams and classes being over. Do it around your shifts at the drug store, now. No ditching anything else for that truck, or I'll cover it back up. Deal?"
"You got yourself a deal, old man."
They both took on the same stance—legs apart, one arm hugged across the chests, the other holding their mugs—and stared at the old truck, sipping their coffee.
For the first time in as long as he could remember, Wil actually felt good about his situation. He was happy living with Gramps, but never felt like he really…belonged there. They cared about each other, yet had always kept each other at an arm's length. Maybe it had been because his dad, the part that was supposed to connect the two of them, was missing.
That day, they finally had a way to bond. And for the first time in way too long, he felt his dad with him too.