Veterans have their say

Reviewer James Reeve wrote, “As a veteran of Viet Nam, I very much liked Ms. Hawthorne’s inclusion and treatment of two wounded WWII veterans and their adjustment to “life after.”  Here’s a glimpse of their story.

 Gus had come in to sort out some paperwork he had been avoiding. It was so unusual to have a customer, it took him several minutes to notice the tall, lanky man looking over the Ford.

“You lookin’ to buy a car?”

The man shook his head. “Naw, I’m just curious. My car’s at Junky’s getting some adjustments made.” As he walked around the display model, Gus noticed he had a limp. “Car looks good,” the man said, “but you know it’s the same as the ‘42 under the skin.”

“Yeah, ’42 was a good car, but not quite as good as the ’39. Best whiskey car ever made.” The words were no sooner out of his mouth than Gus wondered if he’d spoken out of turn.

The man smiled and gestured slightly to Gus’s cane. “Wounded?”

Gus nodded. “Grenade. Knee gives me trouble sometimes. You?”

“Bomb went off where it shouldn’t. Shrapnel.” The man extended his hand, “Byron, everybody calls me Red.”

“Gus McLagan. I raced against you before the war. So you’re still drivin’? How do you…”

“I wear a steel brace. My mechanic Red Vogt fixed it up so I can bolt the brace to the clutch. When I need to shift, I do it by shifting my body weight. ”

“How’s it workin’?”

Byron smiled “Hurts.” He reached in his pocket and took out a bottle of aspirin. “This helps.”

Gus smiled and pointed to a bottle of aspirin on his desk. “Me too.”

“At least I’m driving. I’ve won a few races Bill France set up. Hope to keep doing that. Walk over to the garage with me and I’ll show you how the brace works.”

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