Found Objects

You might look around and see things that make you remember.

It made him stop short. He saw it in the garage on a shelf where he kept his important tools and things he intended to use again or thought likely he would need and there he saw it, the small yellow container with a black lid screwed on. He’d kept it for decades, used it once decades ago, a container of black carborundum grinding compound, industrial abrasive made into paste for Hardened Steel Seats or Cast Blocks the faded writing said on the back of the yellow container, still smudged with residue of the one and only original job and the black tin lid rusty from years of neglect and storage.

He remembered.

He remembered it all the night he used it, the night he used it back on the farm in Iowa in the rude shed after he removed the head from the engine of the car he wanted to fix, the car he worked to fix in the winter when the temperature went to minus twenty-five and he had no place to work but the shed where someone before his time kept chickens. His time came on the farm when he tried to grind the valves to make the engine work and he bought the small yellow container of grinding compound to grind the valves though he had never ground valves before and had no idea if the job would work or if he would just make things worse but with no money and no options he had to try.

He remembered trying.

He took the small yellow container in his hands now and took it from the garage into the house and called his wife.

“Honey,” he said. “Do you remember this?”

Men will ask questions they know cannot be answered. They just have to ask.

“No. What is it?”

“Remember that time on the farm I ground the valves in the car out in the chicken shed that winter? Remember how cold it got that night?”

“Really cold,” his wife agreed without knowing precisely or even remembering off hand.

Women will answer questions they know cannot be answered. They just have to answer.

“Yes,” he said. “Twenty-five degrees below zero.”

She loved him. She let him have his way.

“You fixed it,” she said. “You could always fix anything.”

“Yes,” he said. “I got lucky.”

“I got lucky the day I married you,” she said and she gave him a kiss on the lips.

The kiss lingered. They had been married forty-six years.

“What do you say we go to bed early tonight?” he asked.

“Rogue,” she said. She kissed him again, this time on the cheek.

She played with the answer.

“Well?” he asked.

“Well what?”

She played with the question.

“What do you say we go to be early tonight?”

He meant it.

“What will the neighbors say?”

“We live seven miles from town,” he said.

They’d lived seven miles from town there on the farm throughout their married life.

They’d gotten to know each other pretty well.

“Sure,” she agreed.

They slept in separate bedrooms.

He snored.

“My place or yours?” he asked.

They were still lovers.

“Mine,” she said, “until I get to know you better.”

Still later she said, “I’m glad you found that little jar of grinding compound.”

This made him laugh. The words grinding compound made him laugh.

“Me too,” he said.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he said. “Let’s get some sleep.”

It felt so good to be together. He faced one way. She faced another. He smiled in the darkness and shook his head. Grinding compound still tickled him. She kept her eyes open and after he began to snore she lay awake a long time.