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Going, Going, Gone!

I knew the day would come . . .

In her heart of hearts, Isabel knew deep down that she would someday have to dispose of Ray Whitlow's favorite pickup truck. After Ray's passing, folks had come by and made veiled offers to buy it, hoping not to offend or upset her. She had managed to dodge the issue successfully until just two weeks ago when she finally came to grips with the need to do something with Ray's favorite earthly treasure.

Ray's red Chevrolet C10 has been sitting patiently; slowly deteriorating under the shed roof for just over two years since his death. One of the rear tires has gone flat, and the ever-present jack that Ray kept stored in the bed is now red with rust.

Last Tuesday Isabel wrote a simple ad to place in the classified section of our local newspaper, and she personally carried it down to the newspaper office to avoid any mail delays. On Wednesday, Micah Davenport took an old bicycle tire pump and re-inflated the flat tire and hosed the truck off to make it more presentable. Even a dog like me recognized that nobody was going about these simple tasks with any vigor or enthusiasm. Once she finally made up her mind to sell the truck, Isabel would just as soon have given it away and have it gone rather than deal with the pain of selling it.

Birds have made it their major mission in life to anoint it with long white streaks of their waste. Ray's truck has certainly seen better days.

Months earlier, when her part-time employee, Hank Beavers, suspected that the truck might be coming up for sale, he had approached Isabel and asked her what she might ask for it. Isabel later admitted that she really didn't want to sell it to Hank at that time (or ever) because he would not take proper care of it, so she had quoted him an estimate of $4,500. Predictably, that figure proved high enough to discourage Hank from making any further inquiries. Because Hank rarely reads the newspaper, he never did see her most recent ad offering the truck for $3,000.

The telephone at the Inn didn't exactly ring off the hook after Isabel's ad finally appeared in the classifieds. She got a call from a used car dealer in Blairsville and from three local tradesmen who were looking for 'work trucks.' These folks made "low ball" offers to the $3,000 price she was asking without even coming out to see it, and Isabel cut them short, telling them that she already had a deposit on it.

It looked for awhile that Isabel wasn't going to have an easy time selling Ray's Chevy, partly because she was pretty picky about who she would sell it to.

That was until young Mark Hembree, Jr. arrived to look at the truck. Nineteen years old and in his second year at Young-Harris College, Mark is the eldest son of Mildred Hembree, a widow who owns a small farm nearby. Isabel was completely surprised when Mark appeared at the door asking to look at the truck, but she realized that he was familiar with our phone number and knew our family well enough to 'drop in.' Isabel told him that the truck was unlocked, and that he was welcome to look it over to his heart's content.

Isabel watched somberly from the window as Mark, Jr. walked tentatively around the perimeter of the truck and then gently opened the driver's side door for a more careful examination. Micah sauntered in from the back yard a few minutes later and offered to help Mark start the truck (which by now had a dead battery), but Mark politely declined the offer and continued his slow and patient inspection.

Almost two hours had passed, and Isabel had finally pulled one of the dining room chairs up to the window as she watched Mark, Jr. get in, out, and under - Ray's truck.

It was nearly dusk when Mark reappeared in the front vestibule and called Isabel's name. His clothes were dusty, but he had a happy and enthusiastic expression on his face. "Mrs. Whitlow, I would like to buy your truck, and I would be willing to pay you the $3,000 you are asking, but I will need some time to raise the rest of themoney." Isabel quietly pondered his statement and asked, "Would you take good care of it?" "Yes, ma'am, I always take good care of my things, just ask my mother . . ." Having known the Hembree family for years, Isabel already knew the answer to her own question, but it seemed to make her feel good to hear his response anyway. "Well, I think something can be worked out, Mark. Just how much money do you have for the truck?" "I have $2,700 saved, so I'll only need to earn another $300 to finish paying you for it," Mark replied. Isabel thought for a minute; "would you paint our shed for $300 if I provide the paint?" Isabel countered. "Yes ma'am!" was Mark's immediate reply. "Then I guess we have a deal!" sighed Isabel. "Just come by tomorrow or even Saturday, and Micah will help you get it started, and I'll find the title and paperwork for it."

Isabel actually seemed relieved to have sold Ray's truck, and she seemed even more pleased to have sold it to young Mark Hembree. I overheard her telling Micah Friday morning that she thought Mark would take good care of it and treat it as well or better than Ray had. Micah searched the shed and our small barn and finally came up with a set of jumper cables to use starting the truck when Mark came by later in the day. Louella Hess even cut and saved a piece of her "mile high" apple pie for Mark's pending arrival. Somehow I knew this was going to be a good day at Faded Glory Farm.

Mark rode in on his younger brother's bicycle at around 11 am, and over some milk and apple pie, he and Isabel signed their paperwork and made arrangements for painting the shed (to match the house) during the coming week. Mark and Micah then jump-started Ray's Chevy using Isabel's trusty Ford Taurus, and Isabel gazed without any apparent emotion as Ray's red Chevy C10 eased slowly down the driveway with Mark Hembree at the wheel.

I once heard it said that in this life we don't really own anything; we just lease it for a little while. Ray's favorite truck most certainly brought him pleasure while he was alive, and now it will start a new life with a new and younger owner seeking his future in the mountains of north Georgia. Maybe the circle is complete.

© 2010-2011 David Johnson, All Rights Reserved