Leaving Part 2: Norm, our man in the clutch

The culprit

What sort of cocktail of emotions did I feel when—as we were already running two days late for our adventure of a lifetime and I had a multi-hundred dollar repair—what sort of feelings did I have as the clutch petal slammed to the floor? Rage, I am sure what a large portion. Utter despair. The sort of Job-like frustration. But mostly just blind raging rageful rage. Sinners in the hand of an angry god rage. Dylan Thomas rage against the night, against the machine, I-want-to-be-on-the-road-rage. 

Neil owns a large tract of land—a property of a few acres that has evergreens and seedlings, a long curved driveway that obscures his one story house. I walked despondently across the lawns, my fists clenched and—not really tears, not sweat—just like sheets of moist rage in my eyes. 

Miracle called Norm. Ten o’clock at night and he picks up. “Alright,” he says. “It’s important to know why the cable snapped. We replaced it a year ago, so it really should not have snapped.” 

He guided me through the process of disconnected the clutch petal and tracing the cable to the transmission. “The cable should come out of a black rubber tube called the Bowden Tube.”

I saw the issue. The Bowden tube had a sharp angle where the metal coil interior sawed into the cable. “Problem is,” Norm said. “I don’t know if I can get a new Bowden Tube soon. Looks like it would take a week or more. I’ll check with Larry in the morning.”

Larry owns Larry’s VW and Off-road. I’ve never met the man, but he knows me. Or he knows Adie rather. Most of the engine parts have been sourced through Larry and he is one of Norm’s consults when something like our carburetor is acting irrationally. If anyone had a spare Bowden Tube it would be Larry. 

In the meantime, Miracle and I had cleared out our humble abode, so now it was not so much humble as it was barren. The total list of things we owned now comprised of the following: 

  1. A couch

So my mom came by and brought meats and cheese and crackers. We had now said goodbye to Mom no fewer than four times, each time with the assurance that we would hit the road, lay some tracks to Hocking (now to Helvetia, WV) and get on with it already. By now, it felt as if all the tears that could be cried had been cried—goodbye tears, tears of rage, joyous tears. 

The tube came in and once again, with Norm on speakerphone, I made the repair. …And it worked. 

“I guess I’m obsolete,” Norm texted and sent a laugh-cry emoji. 

So that next morning, a mere four days late, we set off from our barren abode in Bellbrook, Ohio. We exchanged goodbyes with our landlord, neighbor, friend, and Bellbrook’s own city councilperson, Forrest Greenwood. (More on this very special man in a future post.) We had a couple items to grab at the grocery and we still had that dang Spectrum router to return. We packed our 14 months worth of clothes and cookery, the dog’s toys and medicines and bed, our shoes and my set of juggling balls, Miracle’s roller skates. We headed out. 

When I backed out of the parking space, I couldn’t get back into first gear. I was stuck. Stuck in Bellbrook. Sweat instantly poured from my hairline and I couldn’t even find the right swear work to use. I knew of no god powerful enough too damn it all. 

I called Norm. 

“Sounds like the clutch cable could be tightened a little more.”

I climbed under the bus and turned the wing nut two and a half times. That did the trick. That was it. We were on the road. 

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