The car show was amazing. Neva and Jesse had seen the flyer in the hotel lobby and realized that it was just a few streets over. They walked through the vintage cars, the hot rods, and then the old trucks.
“These are gorgeous.”
“Yes, but I think JR is better.” Neva smiled.
“Oh yeah? Who’s JR? Yer mechanic?” asked the guy standing next to the electric blue 1956 Ford.
“No, it’s my truck,” said Neva. “We’ve been working on it for months.”
“So where is it?” the guy asked. “What stall are you in? I wanna see this beauty.”
“We aren’t part of the show, we’re just walking through,” said Jesse.
“Oh yeah. Just walkin’ through. Trash talk my truck when you’re just walkin’ through.” The guy stood there with a look of disgust on his face.
“You know, you sure are rude,” said Neva. “We came over to look and made a comment. You have a nice truck, but JR is better.”
“Prove it bitch,” said the guy.
“Neva, let’s go.”
“Yeah, take your little whore outta here. Honest folk work on these all year, and the last we need is trash talk from asses like you,” said the guy.
Jesse looked around. There was a crowd beginning to form. “Neva, stay here. I’ll get JR.” Then he turned to the guy. “How do I get my truck down here since I don’t have a stall?”
“I’ll go with you mister,” said a man. “I’m one of the show officials. Let’s go.”
Jesse looked at Neva, gave her a kiss and the two men headed off for the hotel. Neva walked over to the curb and sat down to wait.
“Lady, you better have some truck,” said one of the other stall holders.
“I do. Just wait. Then this asshole is going to owe me a dinner,” said Neva.
“Dinner? What the hell for?” said the first guy.
“Easy. I have a beautiful truck and you are pissing on my honeymoon,” Neva growled..
Some of the crowd backed off a little while a few of them snickered. Neva waited.
It was nearly ten minutes before there was a noise at the back of the crowd. Neva stood up and heard JR’s engine purring. People parted and from around the corner came Jesse driving JR. The crowd that had gathered to see a fight were replaced by those oohing and ahhing over the cherry red 1954 Dodge Job Rated truck. Jesse pulled up behind the truck that Neva stood next to.
“I’ll be damned,” said the owner of the 1956 Ford.
Jesse turned off the engine and got out of JR. “You okay Neva?”
“I’m fine. Just fine. A little hungry, but fine.” She was looking straight at the guy who was walking around JR.
Jesse walked up to Neva and gave her a hug and a kiss. A few of the crowd whistled at that and then went back to looking at JR. “You should have seen the official about shit himself,” he said softly.
“Yeah. He said except for the seat covers, JR is in fantastic condition. He about cried when I turned the ignition over.”
“Good. And, if we’re lucky, I think that our buddy there is gonna owe us dinner.”
“What?” Jesse was puzzled.
“There was a little discussion while you were gone.” The two of them stood there watching people inspect JR.
The owner of the 1956 Ford walked over to Jesse and Neva. “Can we start over? My name is David, and I owe you an apology,” He held out his hand.
“Hi David. I’m Jesse and this is my wife Neva.”
“And are you really on your honeymoon?”
“Yes. Got married yesterday,” said Jesse.
David looked sheepish. “Well then, I owe you a dinner.”
“Ya owe him more than that!” hollered one of the other exhibitors.
“You should pay for the beer!” David hollered back. That brought laughter from the crowd. He turned back to Jesse and Neva. “Really. After the show today, I’d like to buy your dinner. I was an ass, and shouldn’t have acted like that.”
“Deal,” said Jesse holding out his hand. “Now how on earth do I get JR out of here?”
“Stands for Job Rated,” said Neva.
“Ah. Well, I think you may have to wait a minute. The marshal you had help you in has disappeared. He’s the one that can take you out of here.” David looked around.
Jesse nodded and tried to wait patiently while people asked questions, looked under the hood and milled around JR. Fifteen minutes later, the guy who’d gone with him to pick up JR came back, with a couple of other people in tow.
“Here’s the truck. Told you,” said the man talking to the others. They too walked around JR, and then the lot of them walked over to Jesse, Neva and David.
“You have one fine truck here,” said one of the men. The rest of them nodded.
“Thank you. There are some things that still need worked on,” Jesse started.
“Yes, but you did a fine job of restoring this truck. Love the color too,” said another man.
“It’s as close to the original as we could get,” said Neva.
“I know you want to get the truck out of here, but we’d like to ask if you’d want to show it down at the next show we have. Plus, while David owes you dinner, we’d like to invite you to join us at the banquet tonight,” said an older man.
“Um, well, I…” started Jesse.
“David will still pay for your dinner, but we’d feel honored if you’d join us. We all started out on a bad note this afternoon and it’s the least we could do for you,” the man said.
Jesse and Neva looked at each other. “What do we need to wear and where is this banquet?” asked Neva.
“Evening casual, and it’s at the Marriot about three blocks that way,” one of the men said.
“That’s our hotel,” laughed Neva. “What time?”
“6pm. When you get to the banquet room, look for David or ask for Jeff Tipple. That’s me,” he said.
“We’ll see you then. David can we get out of here?” asked Jesse.
David caught the one marshal and between them, they got JR back out onto the main streets. They took a drive for a while and then headed back to the hotel to clean up for dinner.
Neva got out of the shower and was drying off when Jesse walked past. “Oh,” she moaned softly.
“You’ll just have to wait until after dinner.” Jesse stepped into the shower. By the time he was dried off, Neva was dressed in a short denim skirt, a soft velvet blouse and her cowboy boots. It was his turn to moan.
“Jesse, you’ll just have to wait,” she teased.
He was dressed in five minutes and they headed down to the banquet room. The hotel had used vintage car shapes as signage. When they got to the dinning room, David and Jeff were waiting for them. Their table was off to the left and as soon as everyone was seated, the wait staff began to serve dinner. Salads, bread rolls, a choice of steak or chicken and then a chocolate mousse styled cheesecake for dessert.
During dinner, conversation was light. As Jesse and Neva commented on the food, David learned that they worked at the Fitzgerald. When not at car shows, David worked at a lumber yard. Jeff worked at a law firm, and spent time making lawyer jokes when the conversation lagged. When the plates were finally cleared, an older gentleman stood up and began addressing the room. Awards for various categories were handed out amids clapping, whistles and good natured heckling. Pictures of some of the winning cars or trucks were flashed up on the screen beside the speakers podium.
Neva had begun to wonder if the banquet was over as things seemed to be winding down. Then she saw a picture of what looked like JR up on the big screen. “Jesse?”
Jesse turned to her with a questioning look on his face. Next to him, David smiled. “Just relax.”
“As with every car show, there are always a few surprises. Today I thought the show was going to end in a fist fight around noon,” said the man. “And then we had a pleasant surprise. We got to watch our own David Turner eat crow.” There was a ripple of laugher across the room, and David turned beet red.
“Best of all, we were privileged to see one of the best restorations of a 1954 Dodge Job Rated truck that I have seen in years.” He pointed to the pictures of JR that were being shown. “And you know what? The owners weren’t even here for the show!” He waited for the laughter to settle down.
“However, we have Jesse and Neva here with us tonight and we’d like to thank them for sharing ‘JR’ with us this afternoon.” He turned towards where they were sitting and began to clap as did the whole room.
Neva felt her face flush, and saw that Jesse was nearly as red as JR. She did the only thing she could and gave sort of a ‘royal wave’.
“While we don’t have a category for Best Truck NOT in show, We’d like to give you this bottle of champagne.” He held up a bottle with a blue ribbon tied to the neck. Jesse stood up and headed towards the podium to receive the bottle. Jesse shook hands with the man and then walked back to the table. When he got there, he showed Neva the ribbon. On it written in marker was “Best Truck NOT in Show.