Friday, May 7, 2010

Fiction Friday: MORE Bearmobile Problems

-- This is Part Two of "Bearmobile Problems", which is a surprise to Bear, because she didn't know there was going to be a "Part Two". {For anyone who missed Part 1, last week, it's available here: Part 1}. But the Lord apparently had more adventures planned for this week, for when she went back to that Thrift Store, specifically designed to give Bear a second chance to get things right...

Bearmobile Problems -- Part Two

It was about a week and a half later, and another sunshiny day. Bear was nosing around the Thrift Store again, somewhat disappointed that the locked storage cabinet on wheels she'd so admired was gone. She decided that someone (who actually had car keys in a pocket when needed) had likely jimmied it open and bought it. But decided also, that it probably was just as well. The cabinet would have increased the storage space in the Den, and too much storage space could make it easier to accumulate more things to be stored. And when left without restraint, Bear tended to accumulate junk, having a weakness when it came to garage sales and thrift stores.

Feeling tired and not seeing anything worth buying this week, she figured it was a good time for lunch, and soon was inside the bearmobile, releasing the lever to slide the driver's seat back, away from the steering wheel. She pawed through the cooler she had on hand for just such times as these, and pulled out some leftover yogurt, a small container of shelled pecans, and a sectioned orange in a jar; then grabbed the PDA, to do some reading while eating.

She intended to just quickly glance through a rough draft she had written for a contest entry, and to begin to think about what editing it might need. However, the conversations from passing pedestrians and sounds of traffic soon faded into unawareness as she happily moved the cursor across the tiny screen.

Nope! That paragraph does not at all work there. Let's see... If I cut it and paste it up here, how's that flow?...Hmm. Nope. That don't work either... How about if I take out that one sentence, and then stick it over here, and THEN move the rest of that paragraph over...

Eventually she got things just the way she wanted them. Plus, the word count was now exactly at the contest's 750 word cutoff limit. Victory indeed. Satisfied, she clicked on "OK" and watched the story disappear from the screen, into the PDA's memory.

Looking around, she stretched and sniffed appreciatively at the fresh air coming in through the open car window. She was starting to feel much more awake again; although with the sun so warm on her fur, it was tempting to just tilt the seat back and take a nap.

But glancing at the time, she saw that an hour had passed without her noticing. The day was definitely getting away from her.

Onwards to the grocery store ... Now, where did I stick those car keys?

Normally, she put them on top of the dashboard while she ate lunch.

But not this time, apparently.

Bear checked her pockets.


She checked the ignition.

Not there.


She started searching the bearmobile in earnest, cleaning up lunch dishes as she went. Finally, she reached her paw under the seat, and feeling along the floor, bumped something. Hearing a metallic rattle, she grabbed up the keys from where they'd fallen, unnoticed, when she'd adjusted the seat.

That's kinda weird... misplacing my keys at the same thrift store so soon...

After her adventure with the Triple A Bearmobile Insurance tow truck driver, a friend had suggested that perhaps it might be a good idea to have a duplicate bearmobile key made, just in case the seemingly impossible might happen, and she locked the keys in the bearmobile again.

"I always carry an extra key in my purse," the friend had said, "and I've got one at home too. Never hurts to be prepared."

Bear had laughed. Locking her keys in a bearmobile once every seven years hardly seemed worth the effort. She doubted this current bearmobile even had seven years of life left in it.

But suddenly, it didn't seem like such a bad idea to get a copy.

She checked the little clock on her PDA again, wondering if she had time to make a quick stop at the local Ace Hardware Store. Then decided she'd better make the time, under the circumstances

Since "Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man," maybe he'll make me a duplicate bearmobile key. Bet they have one of those machines that copy keys there.

Soon, she was in the hardware store. A clerk at the register gave her directions to the "Service Desk" where they had the key machine, and Bear heard her directing a worker to go to the Desk, via the Public Address System.

A man in his thirties arrived behind the counter just a few seconds after she walked up.

"What can I do for you today?" he asked, looking bright and cheery in his red "Ace" vest, baseball-type cap, checked shirt and faded jeans. He seemed ready to solve any problem she might have -- definitely the "helpful hardware man" type.

"I need a copy of this bearmobile key." Her paws fumbled at the key ring, trying to work the key off of it.

"You bet. No problem! You don't have to take it off the ring."

Surprised, she handed her keys to him.

"So you want one copy, right?" He turned towards a small metal machine sitting on a shelf next to the counter.

She thought about that. Quite seriously, in fact.

"Better make it two. I'd better play it doubly safe."

He chuckled, moving parts of the machine around, seeming to be working at getting the key lined up just right. Then lowered a metal press that clamped it into place, leaving the rest of the keys dangling underneath it. Next, he selected a similar-looking key from a board full of keys hanging on the wall, and clamped it into another part of the machine.

She noticed he had a stretchy cloth bandage covering the knuckles of one hand, and wrapped around the thumb; and she idly wondered what had happened. But he didn't seem to be in pain, and was practically whistling as he flipped the switch on.

The platform the new key was clamped into started moving back and forth while the machine made a very efficient electric saw type of buzzing. When it stopped, he pulled the new key out, held it up to the light admiring his work, blew on it, then held it up to a whirling brush on another part of the machine which cleaned off all its edges.

Bear was starting to paw through her wallet as he held the new key up to the light again.

But then the man paused, and stared hard at the key. If he had actually been whistling, he would have stopped right then.

Bear sensed trouble.

He unclamped her original key, and held the two keys together, examining them closely. Then frowned, and clamped the old key back into place, taking longer to line it up than he had the first time. Then clamped in the second one again, and flipped the switch.

The machine buzzed efficiently again, as if all were well in the world.

But, from the look on the helpful hardware man's face when he examined the keys yet again, Bear could tell that the machine was not so efficient as it made itself out to be. He didn't seem super upset. But still...

Finally, he turned and leaned on the counter across from her, setting down the new key and holding up her old key for her to see.

"See here?" He moved his finger along one side of the key near its point. "See how that isn't straight anymore?"

Bear looked, but didn't see anything unusual. It just looked like a bearmobile key to her.

He could tell she wasn't getting it. He tilted the key to make the light shine off of it at a new angle. "See how it's wider right here," he pointed, "than it is along here?" He pointed to a different place. "See? It's been worn away so it's not straight anymore. It won't lie flat on the machine."

Now she saw what he meant. The key got much less thick in that one place -- looked very thin in fact. Looked like it might even be ready to break.

This had to be bad news. Not only was he getting ready to tell her that there was no way to copy her key; but her old key was on its last legs and maybe could break at any time, or maybe would get so worn down it wouldn't unlock the lock anymore. It was 19 years old, after all. And then how would she get her bearmobile going?

He apparently noticed the worry that must have shown on her face, because he said, "I'll see what I can do with it," and turned around and started working away at the little machine again. However, minutes continued to tick by, and he didn't seem at all satisfied with his alignment. The clock next to the board full of keys showed that ten minutes had already passed.

Bear started to pray, silently, while still watching him working to line up the key.

"Father God. Please help enable this man to get this lined up right for a copy. What if this key breaks soon because it's so worn, or I lose it? Please help him, Lord, I..."

But then something about the scene suddenly struck her as familiar. An image of the tow truck driver working away at her bearmobile door when the keys were locked in the car sprung to mind. She could see herself silently praying while he worked, and remembered how she'd really felt she should've been praying out loud, but had chickened out.

"Oh, now wait a minute, Lord! You wouldn't want me to pray out loud here, would You? You didn't set this up to give me a second chance to follow-up on my repentance at not praying last time, out loud? No. That just couldn't be! ...

Although this IS quite a coincidence, to be praying while a man's working on a problem concerning the bearmobile key again so soon and...

But Lord, You wouldn't really..."
Bear trailed off her mental praying completely, staring, dumbfounded, at the man as he worked.

She apparently had plenty of time to think it over. He clearly was making no progress whatsoever, and was repetitively clamping the two keys in place, then shaking his head, and unclamping them. Then realigning and re-clamping...

She continued to mull the whole thing over...It certainly seemed she had no excuse NOT to pray out loud this time. He wasn't at all angry or hostile. Not even muttering under his breath. No R-rated language. Didn't even seem upset, really. And had been very friendly.

While she was thinking, an older Ace employee walked by, passing behind Bear, and waved to him saying, "And how are you doing today, Sir?"

The man with her keys gave a gentle wave with his bandaged hand, while still working with the other hand to align a key, and nodded amiably. "Doing just fine!"

"But Lord," Bear took up her mental conversation again. "You can't expect me to pray out loud in the middle of an Ace Hardware Store over a BEARMOBILE KEY. I mean, I know I NEED the new key, and it's definitely worth praying silently about. But it's not really a major crisis, like being locked out of the bearmobile was. They'll think I'm crazy!"

The machine buzzed efficiently again for awhile.

The man took the keys off, held them up to the light, shook his head, and started lining them up on the machine's platform again, this time putting more pressure on one of them, forcing it into place more firmly, jiggling it...

"Please give me wisdom on this, Lord. Show me what You want me to say. Meanwhile, I'm praying You help this man accomplish this. I DO need this key, Lord, I..."

The minute hand on the clock showed another five minutes passed.

"You know," said Bear out loud, just before the man flipped the switch again. "I'm really praying a lot over here, that the Lord will help, while you're doing this."

He glanced at her, looking mildly surprised; then nodded somewhat distractedly; took a last check of the key's alignment; hesitated; then made one final, careful adjustment ... and flipped the switch.

The machine buzzed.

He held the two keys up to the light. Then looked much happier. After letting the brush clean the new one off again, he slapped it on the counter, and said, "You do have your bearmobile here, to test this with, right?"

"Well, yeah. It's right out in the parking lot."

"Good. I think it'll be OK, but that way you can check it and bring it back if there's a problem."

"Really? Well, great!"

What a relief! Bear started pawing through her wallet again.

"Wait a minute though." He seemed to remember something. Then said, "You wanted TWO copies?"

"Well, yeah. But under the circumstances..."

He grabbed up the key ring again, grinned, and turned back to the machine.

Bear went back to having a silent chat with the Lord.

She decided that the next essential thing was to remember to thank the Lord -- to make sure she acknowledged that it had been Him who made this work, unlike her blunder when she gave the tow truck driver all the credit.

This time it only took a minute before the man was handing her the second new key with a flourish.

"Thank You, Jesus!" Bear said, relieved. "And thank YOU too, for your persistence! It is much appreciated."

He smiled wider. "You're most welcome. Be sure and test them though, before you drive away."

So Bear did.

But she wasn't surprised when they both worked perfectly.

As she headed towards the grocery store, she could feel that peace from the Lord that can be such a blessing when it's present. She knew that, likely she wasn't yet completely where the Lord wanted her on the whole thing ... but it was better.

Definitely better.


Karlene over at Homespun Expressions is hosting Fiction Friday this week. So be sure and drop over there as well, to find links to the whole selection of entries by Christian writers, and/or to add a link of your own and join in the fun! We all welcome comments and discussion!
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den


Sherri said...

I am enjoying the bearmobile journeys! And like you, I love the peace that comes from obedience.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

Glad you had a second chance to listen to the Holy Spirit's nudging, even though it meant a little extra time and worry. :)

joanc said...

I loved these two stories. Your writing "voice" comes across very well in this longer, more free format - gentle, with lovely little details. The message is such a great one - I love the way God gave Bear a second chance to get it right(even though he had been graceful the 1st time!) - how often He has to do that with me!

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