I stood on top of the bookmobile and jumped up and down. The shocks shook and the frame groaned as my two hundred and more pounds shook the green behemoth, but it held.
“That’s good. She might be okay, Evan,” Grease said, “I’ll need to get her on the rack to make sure she’s ship shape, but I like the way she looks. You said your daddy had her in his shack?”
Will “Grease” Kitchens had come by without me asking to look at the library’s bookmobile. He spotted some quick fixes to get her not so vocal, and a ton other fixes that cost more than the library itself. We stood behind the old building and both stared at the van-shaped vehicle.
I told him yes and reminded him to only fix the bare essentials, nothing more, “I’m not made of money, Will. Just do what you said with the engine.”
“The timing belt. Okay, but you’re gonna need that other belt and a full cleaning soon,” he said.
“Then I need you to convince the mayor to give us funding back.”
Grease shook his head, “No, sir, I am a genius but a coward. And if that ole sumbitch Bilbo pulled the city contract for the motor pool from the garage I think we might go under.”
“A son of a bitch, eh?” a voice said.
We both turned and Brother Peter Clupper rounded the corner of the library.
“I hope the mayor does not hear that,” he said, looking at Grease.
“I didn’t mean nothing by it, Brother Clupper,” Grease said, “I was just joking with a friend.”
“Don’t let the man get to you, Will,” I said, “What can we do for you, Brother Pete.”
Clupper frowned at the nickname, but the sunny smile rose again, “I came for one last time to ask for the uses of your church for my congregation. The Lord is generous, but may not be so soon? Fire has consumed the building before.”
I took a step toward the man, “Is that a threat?”
Grease put a strong hand on my shoulder and I stopped. The building had had a fire last year when a maniac drove a flaming truck into it, and it had taken the reserve money to repair just in time for funding to be pulled. A new building closed. I had quit during the reconstruction, the staff broken and scattered after the fire.
Brother Pete knew that. Knew that because of my absence, my family’s absence the library had failed.
“Don’t want your money, Brother Pete,” I said at the smiling man.
“Well, then. Whatever happens will happen, I suppose.”
Brother Pete walked away then, turning and leaving without saying a word. When he was around the building, I heard him begin to sing a hymn, his reedy voice nails on a chalkboard.
“Damn, son. Thought you were gonna take his head off,” Grease said.
I took a breath and breathed out. Nothing more to say. The preacher was up to something, something strange with his congregation.
“You know anything about what he’s teaching?”
Will shook his head, “Just that there were meeting in the Methodist basement until last week. Minister there told’em to get the hell out but won’t say why. Rumor is they were doing some pretty weirdo stuff.”
“Yeah, I could see that.”
“No reason thinking about that too hard. Man’s crazy and I’ll testify if anything comes up that he said some pretty damn weird things just now.”
“Sounds good. So back to the bookmobile…”
Grease hung around for a while longer and we talked, but my mind was stuck on Brother Pete. What the hell was that crazy idiot up to?