Your chariot has to be tuned up to keep you in the Los Angeles race.
You aren’t going to get anywhere in this L.A. burg without a good set of wheels, a team of rested and well fed horses, and enough time to get where you are going through a maze of interconnected freeways, on and off ramps, incorporated towns that remind you of a patchwork quilt with each town independent but linked to the others to make a California dreaming quilt.
It is almost a forty minute drive to Los Angeles to reach Chris’s mechanic.
Ontario, where Chris and his mom live, is fifty miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Getty Museum, Staples Center, Sunset Strip, Hollywood, the Walk of Fame, and other landmarks. His car’s CHECK engine light is on and fan belts, recently replaced, are slipping and making a squeal..It isn’t something any garage can’t fix but when you get a mechanic you trust, you will grudgingly drive the hour to let him work his car magic on your car.
The Auto Care Center,when we pull in, is busting open at the seams with car hoods up, tires off, doors open, uniformed grease junkies busily removing and replacing parts, running computer checks, calling parts suppliers. It is the day before Christmas and cars are doing what they invariably do – break down.
Chris’s car belts are tightened and his check engine light turns out to be caused by not tightening down on the gas cap enough so a seal is broken and escaping emissions trigger a sensor.
On the way back to Ontario we stay off the freeways.
Chris, who cared for my dad and Roseanne, in California, was exceedingly fond of my Dad.
California was never a place my dad wanted to be, and, at the end, he wasn’t.
Chris and I still have plenty of J.L. stories, and all of them make us smile, to tell, even when they don’t have happy endings.