For anyone who hasn't read Flying Solo: You don't have to, but this one might make a teensy bit more sense if you did. :D
It was a beautiful, Southern California day. No two ways about it.
Started out clear as a whistle; clouds rolled in; light dusting of rain before lunch; then back to that beautiful baby blue everybody loved so much. A little rainbow even peakin' out to let the Irish know St. Paddy was thinkin' of 'em.
In fact, it'd been so pretty out that Ken insisted, right before the clouds got going, that he and Shelby ought to test out the GT's new suspension. Take her out for a few laps. See if she could handle two in the cab over the hilly, rough and tumble outdoor terrain.
Weren't no way the guy could'a said no to that.
The only thing about the morning that'd pumped the breaks on it being perfect? The painful reminder of why the great Carroll Shelby had been forced to hang up the helmet and retire from his globetrotting rocket ride of a racing career.
At least it hadn't been a bad attack. And Ken'd been there to help keep him on the road while he dry swallowed his spare nitroglycerin pill. The one he'd slipped in his shirt pocket before getting behind the wheel. Knowing it was more a matter of 'when' than 'whether'.
But they'd weathered that storm and gotten themselves back to the garage in one piece and, after a quick lunch, it was back to business as usual. Shelby taking a little sit down he hoped no one would begrudge him while everyone else went back to work. Most of them vacating the garage to enjoy tweaking a new project piece out in the warm light of a mild, post scattered showers day.
Weren't ten minutes into his quiet, restful listen to the afternoon news that his break was interrupted none too tactfully.
"Hey, Shelb! Come 'ere a sec!" Called the ever so slightly muffled voice of one decidedly 'not outside' Ken Miles.
"C'mon, shake a leg! I haven't got all bloomin' day!"
"Keep yer hat on, I'mma comin'!" The man whose presence was being 'requested' assured, taking off from his seat by the radio at a measured, leisurely walk. Coming to a stop at the side of the only car in there currently being propped up by a sturdy three ton capacity jack.
"Alright, I'm here. What's so important?"
"Come on down; you'll want to see this for yourself," a pair of muddied shoes said from under the chassis of an equally muddied, one of a kind, experimental racing machine.
Figuring he might as well humor the mechanic, the former racer sighed and set to find himself a creeper. Soon realizing that those were all outside being employed by the other employees of Shelby Motor Company, the proprietor gave another sigh and settled for a nice, comfy, body length sheet of cardboard instead.
"Alright, what's so goldarned important?" Shelby asked as he got himself shimmied underneath the dimly lit, half lifted chassis.
"Here, hold this," Ken's only words as he waved a compact flashlight in his visitor's general direction.
Wordlessly, Shelby took the torch and clicked it on. Glad his host had at least been thoughtful enough not to blind him with it first.
"Remember when you came out of that last curve and hit that rough patch on the straightaway?" Ken asked, giving his hands a quick wipe on a grease stained rag.
"And it felt like her belly was gettin' chewed up by pirrahanas? Of course I remember that. Thought we'd kilt her," Shelby found himself admitting, hoping the while that he was about to be proven wrong.
"Shine that light over here and take a look," instructed the mechanic, pointing to something that his drop light didn't quite reach in the chassis overhead.
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," Shelby swore soon as his light found its mark.
"That's gotta be the biggest radiator casing hole I ever done seen," the man with the flashlight said, voice caught somewhere between disbelief and awe.
"Right?" Ken agreed, voice riding that same line.
"How did that not bust through the floorboard?" Asked the Texan as he reached up an inquisitive hand to inspect the jagged tear in the metal.
"No idea. But we're gonna have to reinforce the shielding around this thing," the man on the rolling board said with a grimace. "'Cause if this happened out on the track? Engine'd be fried before we ever got it back round for a pit stop."
"Good thing we weren't racing then," Shelby agreed, bringing both the light and his head closer to the exposed sieve of the car's radiator. "You think those rocks're still in there?"
"Eh, speeds we were goin'? Probably clean in and out," Ken mused as he stuck a hand in to check.
"Then where's the exit wound?"
"Maybe we're lookin' at it," posited the mechanic as his hand came back out empty.
"Went in, bounced off the inside and got spit right back out?"
"Well, we better get Phil's eyes on this too. Make sure he knows we can't go this light on the materials for the undercarriage after all," the man who was starting to feel the concrete through his cardboard said with a small adjustment of his spine.
"What, and break the man's heart?" Ken admonished with a snicker.
"Better'n breakin' some poor driver's neck," Shelby pointed out with a wry glance Ken's way.
"Why, Shelb, I didn't know you ca-"
The two flinched as a groaning screech tore through their workspace, cutting off the Britt whose eyes suddenly shot wide.
"What the hell was that?" Asked a concerned Shelby, flashlight swinging around to illuminate the source of-
"Brace!" Ken shouted, throwing his hands up to grab hold of an overhead strut just as the GT lurched a good several inches.
"The jack's slipping!" Shelby yelled as he dropped the torch to snap his hands up and around the closest piece of undercarriage he could reach.
"Yeah, no shit!" The mechanic affirmed as the chassis rocked to a precarious stop. Jack miraculously holding.
"Ken, Boss, you alright?!" Rang a harried voice over the sound of a pounding set of sneakers.
"Roy?" Asked a Texan who didn't remember the kid being inside.
"Roy, pull him out!" Came a demand that pushed the retired driver's heart into overdrive.
"Don't you dare, Roy!" Shelby insisted, tamping down hard on his panic. "You-you go out there, grab that spare jack and them tire chucks and get Phil's ass in here, and you make it snappy!"
"Right. Be right back. Just hold on!" And then the sound of skidding feet as the kid dodged half-assembled cars and picked-apart V-6 engines in his rush outside. Out to where the boys could be heard still happily slathering over their new project. And where the other car jack was currently being used.
"Shelb, your ticker," Ken reminded on a huffed breath.
"It'll be fine so long as we avoid bein' pancaked," Shelby huffed right on back.
"I cant believe I- I was sure I'd set the parking brake," an understandably distraught Ken bit out, straining all the while to keep the one and a quarter ton machine from rolling any further.
"Kind of grease monkey you are? You did. Brake line must be shot along with the radiator," the man from Camp County said through gritted teeth as he held on to his piece of strut just as tight.
"...You're probably right," the man from Warwickshire admitted with a grunt. "Damn rocks."
Then, as if disapproving of the subject matter, the jack creaked and the chassis rolled another few inches, dragging the two along with it.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, you stupid piece of-"
"Aw hell, now it's got my leg," Shelby said, trying not to squirm against the once again dubiously stationary frame and make the whole situation worse.
"It's got your bloody what?" Ken asked at a shout, voice reverberating sharply as he craned his head to see for himself.
"Don't worry, this great galoot's got me pinned is all," Shelby informed with a pinched grimace of a smile. Not at all appreciating the way unyielding metal was suddenly digging down onto his thigh.
"Well fuck. At least the blasted beast's not on fire," the racer said, huffing with the ongoing strain of keeping things where they were until help arrived.
"Don't tempt it," Shelby warned with more than a hint of seriousness.
"Yeah alright," agreed a Ken it sounded like might've been having a harder time staying calm than he was letting on.
"Hold on... They're comin' now," Shelby said as the sound of a car being let down none too gently echoed in through the garage doors.
"Finally," Ken grumbled under his breath. "Hey, hurry up with that jack! It's got his leg!" He continued soon as they heard the metallic racket of what must have been the entire team pushing and pulling the industrial strength jack along faster than its tiny wheels were meant to roll.
"Shit," the voice of one Phil Remington bit out from half the shop away. "Boys, get those chucks in place, stat!"
"Right, Pops!" Acknowledged no fewer than three voices, breaking off at a run towards their imperiled teammates. Getting the wedge shaped things in place faster than the Texan had thought possible.
Not fast enough for the GT's shot break line though, Shelby realized when he couldn't completely strangle a shout. The car having given another groan and rocked that sudden little bit farther before coming to rest solidly on its freshly placed emergency stoppers.
"Shelb, you okay?" Asked the man stuck alongside him in that damnable slice of purgatory.
"Christ on a crutch," the only thing the pinned man could fight past his gritted teeth.
"Talk to me!" Ken just about shouted, sounding ready to take a hand off his crossbeam and shake his suddenly reticent friend.
"This car's tryin' to take a bite outta me," Shelby admitted, turning his head to hide the wetness he couldn't keep from his eyes at the feeling of something sharp and jagged gouging into his thigh.
"Phil, get this thing off us now!" Demanded the Brit, words punctuated by the jack giving yet another ominous creak.
"You heard the man, let's get this goin'!" The de facto shop manager instructed.
"On it, Pops!" Harried voices responded as hands came down to grip the sides of the car's belly, hoping to keep it from falling as presumably Phil and a helper inserted the fresh jack where it needed to be. Right next to the one taunting them as it teetered, tipped practically sideways, threatening to topple and let that metal maw mark the close of both a retired racer and his best friend's far too short lives.
A retired racer who was certain he could hear someone among them reciting The Lord's Prayer as the shop's most seasoned car whisperer began the nerve wracking process of bringing the jack's lift up to take the weight off the one they were lucky hadn't up and snapped in half on them.
He was also certain every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the garage flinched when the damnable hunk of metal finally gave up the ghost and clanged against the concrete, causing the car to groan once more as its weight was taken by the thankfully ready replacement.
"Good God," whispered a Ken who let arms trembling with exertion slowly come down to rest on the sides of his creeper. "Took 'em long enough."
Shelby, though he wholeheartedly agreed, said nothing. Choosing instead to just breathe as the GT was cranked slowly back up to a height that would allow the both of them to crawl out from under. Pointedly not making a fuss when he felt whatever had a claw stuck in him lift off his leg for good.
"Shelb, you can let go now," that voice said from closer to his head than it had been, a grease mottled hand reaching over to touch his near arm. "The boys're just about done. You'll be out lickety-split."
As he let his hand be coaxed down from the strut it'd practically welded itself to, the once professional driver sucked in a shaking lungful and gave a mute nod. Aware he wasn't quite up to talking just yet.
"And here they come," the mechanic informed, pointing to the mitts moving from the bottom of the car to the edges of the cardboard pad. Ready to pull their boss out from under.
In a blink, Shelby found himself staring up at a very different kind of ceiling. One that wasn't actively threatening to crush the life from him. A ceiling the likes of which he'd never been so happy to see in his entire life.
Then a group of shaken youngsters descended upon him with eager hands and relieved faces and before he knew it, Shelby was pulled to his feet and hit with a barrage of questions. Questions it turned out his rattled brain wasn't up to processing, let alone thinking up answers to.
So he just stood there instead. Wondering in a detached sort of way why it was his leg didn't want to support him. And why it felt like his thigh was on fire.
"All right, all right; give 'im some air," instructed a Ken who likely hadn't needed help getting himself out from under that death trap, waving at the little crowd and making sure their rescuers were far enough back before turning to his friend. The giddy relief in his expression faltering once he'd gotten a good look.
Well, hell, thought Shelby as he chanced a glance downwards and caught a glimpse of red.
The Texan flinched when he looked back up to find that the mechanic had stepped close and was reaching out to grab him by the belt. Steadying the wavering man before he had a chance to overbalance.
"Hold still," the driver insisted, giving him a look before moving quick fingers to finagle open his fellow survivor's buckle. And then the brass button underneath.
And Shelby too busy just trying to stay upright to ask what in God's name Ken was doing that for.
"Somebody bring us a clean cloth and some duct tape?" Requested the Brit as Shelby felt his fly being unzipped. Confused enough about the whole affair that he put up not one protest when the guy started to work the pants down and off his hips.
He felt the slight breeze while previously tucked shirt tails kept all but a glimpse of his BVDs covered as his pants were slipped down around his knees and he was pushed back to sit on the edge of the closest desk.
"Don't- don't- It-It's fine, Ken, I'll walk it off," Shelby managed, finding his tongue at long last.
"There's no walking this off, Shelb," informed a concerned Brit, sounding like he might've actually known what he was talking about. Bending enough to inspect what the Texan figured must have been some sort of puncture wound.
"Eh, bleedin's not too bad. Should keep till we can get you to hospital."
"Hospital?" The guy sitting on the desk asked with a confused blink.
"Shelb, I'm not gonna sugar coat it," Ken said as he accepted a clean rag from a pale around the eyes Phil. "This is gonna hurt."
"'Gonna hurt'? It already 'hurts'," an indignant racing manager asserted with a gesture toward the injury.
"Alright, so no shock then? You can feel your fingers?" Ken asked with a serious nod.
"Yeah, and I've half a mind to put 'em 'round yer neck and wring 'em till yer eyes pop," came the pseudo threat that had the world class driver practically snickering.
"Yeah, alright then," he said in a distinctly 'not a chance' sort of way. Before reaching out with a grease smudged hand and setting the still relatively clean rag onto the oozing wound.
"Hold this," the man instructed. Giving it a whole two seconds before reaching out and grabbing a similarly greasy, slow to respond, lightly shaking hand in his and pushing it down on top the absorbent fabric himself.
"Jesus Christ!" Exclaimed the man biting the inside of his mouth to keep anything worse from jumping out.
"Hard to believe, but that's a good sign," the Brit reassured as he turned his attention to inspecting the rest of the thigh.
"This is going to bruise massively," he informed, running both eyes and a gentle set of fingers over the angry red swath of skin spreading out from where the workshop rag was helping staunch a slow leak.
"Great, I'll be sure to break out my Polaroid," quipped the Texan whose patience with the situation was whittling away fast.
"Speaking of 'breaks', I don't think this leg has any, so you should be able to help us get you in my car," Ken informed as he finished with his inspection.
"Your car? What in high heaven for?!" A rather scattered Shelby asked. Only then beginning to realize the barely decent, disheveled state he'd been reduced to.
"For your trip to hospital. Unless you've forgotten that a car's just fallen on top of you?" The Brit responded with a wry twist of his eyebrows.
"You're a jackass, Ken," Shelby insisted, wagging a finger inches from his insufferable friend's nose.
"If I wasn't, I don't think the two of us would get on quite the same. Like attracting like, and all that," the purported jackass said as he accepted a roll of duct tape from their head engineer. Pulling out a double arm's length of the stuff and biting the strip free before bending to wind it around the entire thigh. Twice. Tightly enough to keep the rag applying a firm pressure without the shaking hand's help.
"Yeah? Well least I'm not a menace," the now sweating as well as shaking, bleeding man bit out.
"That's the shock talking," Ken informed with a grin, straightening to survey his work.
"Alright, I have county on the line!" Came a call from the office doorway. Turning heads to where a worried Roy was visible through the blinds, holding a phone and looking right back at them. "Am I telling them to expect you, or to send an ambulance?"
"Well, what do you think, Roy? Can our budget take an emergency ride like that?" Shelby chastised from where he was busy trying to bat away the hands of both his head engineer as well as their head test driver.
"Uh..." Came the young man's protracted response.
"Don't worry your pretty little head, mate. I'll get him there sooner'n any ambulance could," promised a Ken who'd finally finagled an uninterested arm around his bony shoulders. Which he'd followed close by snaking a firm hand around an unhappy rib cage. A hold he used to maneuver the injured man to his feet.
"More like kill us both on the way," Shelby grumbled as Phil grabbed his other side to steady them. Slinging the leftover arm around his own shoulders soon as the Texan stopped squirming.
"Now that's just not fair," Ken said with a faux pout, pointing them off for his car when Phil gave him a nod. Waiting until they were halfway there to open his mouth again.
"What say we put him in the back?" The menace asked his cohort over their friend's head.
"Good idea. We don't want him bending that leg any more'n he has to," reasoned a Phil taking more of his flagging business partner's weight the farther they shambled.
"I'm right here, y'know?" Informed a Shelby who was summarily ignored and forced into the back seat of a ratty old family car. Legs stretched out on the bench in an admittedly practical arrangement.
"Thanks, Phil. I'll call with an update soon as we get him checked in," he heard a winded Ken tell an equally winded shop manager.
Shelby, rightfully annoyed with being manhandled, tuned out the rest of the brief conversation. Trying his best to do the same for the throbbing starting to spread from beneath the makeshift bandage cinched around his pants-less thigh.
Which became all the more difficult when he realized that in the quiet of the wagon's backseat, there was nothing to distract him from the harrowing reality of his current problem. Nor the fact that he was beginning to feel that rhythmic throbbing all the way down to his bones.
By the time Ken threw himself behind the wheel, Shelby was preoccupied well enough that he barely noticed as his driver slammed the door, cranked up the engine, stomped on the gas, and careened them off down the tarmac and onto city streets.
Out on the hilly, twisting road, between the varying colored streaks of traffic lights the car was blowing right on through, he was pretty sure Ken was talking. To himself if not to the guy who hoped vaguely that he wasn't staining the bench's cheap surface with the red oozing slowly down his busted thigh.
"Put some pressure on that, will you, love?" He thought he might've imagined from the front seat. Turning his head when he definitely heard a noise of exasperation.
"Your leg- Put your hands on your leg. It'll help stop the bleedin'." The man at the wheel said. Glancing over a tense shoulder at the man in the backseat after a couple seconds interrupted by nothing but the angry sounds of an engine being pushed hard.
"Please, mate, I can't rightly do it for you. Bit busy at the moment." The driver said as the car swerved. Hard.
Registering belatedly that Ken had been talking to him, Shelby looked back down at his leg. Rather surprised by the amount of red that had seeped between the layers of duct tape while he'd been watching his friend have a conniption.
"Carroll Hall Shelby, you put your hands on that wrapping now or I swear to-"
"Yeah, yeah, keep yer hat on," the man on the now somewhat sticky backseat mumbled as he moved leaden hands to do as the apoplectic Brit demanded.
"That's it, love," the driver said with another stolen glance over the back of his bench. "Keep the pressure on that. We're not that far out now," he assured, voice fading into the background as the wagon revved them up an incline.
But even the sound of the hideous jalopy screaming down the road lost its mortal importance as the redoubled pressure on his thigh brought the throbbing back to the forefront of Shelby's attention. This time worse than the first. Bad enough that when the wagon banged it's way over some ungraded piece of motorway, he couldn't bring himself to stop his heavy hands from jarring right off that sluice gate of a bandage.
With the distinct feeling that he was once again being yelled at, Shelby let his back relax that little bit more so that his shoulders were flush with the door, head pressing against the window. Filling his brain pan so full with the familiar vibrations of an automobile breaking every known speed limit that even the increased misery of his leg couldn't reach him anymore.
There, he let himself float. Not the least bit concerned by the faint, faraway, "Damn it, Shelby!", a red faced Ken threw at him.
The lunatic behind the wheel had been right about them not being far out though, for before Shelby knew it, they were parked. The man with the fuzzing sense of his surroundings could tell because his head listed to one side as the wagon lurched to a none too gentle stop.
Then, an ambulance scooted on by while the guy in the front seat jumped out the car like it was on fire, hollerin' at a small passel of folks dressed in white something about stretchers and blood loss and shock and all kinds of weirdness.
Hospital, Shelby thought as the door behind him was popped open and hands stopped him from falling right on out and onto the parking lot asphalt.
Yep. He was at a hospital all right. Otherwise, wouldn't nobody be shinin' a penlight in his eyes and barragin' him with questions they should've been asking somebody else. Like the manic mechanic over in the corner, pacing back and forth and piping up whenever it was obvious Shelby's tongue wasn't going to cooperate.
They cut the bandage off at some point. He felt the absence of that damnable constricting pressure more than he'd felt the cold stainless steel of the scissors.
Also cut his pants the rest of the way off. Which he was pretty sure he hadn't been too happy about while they'd done it.
Ken had been escorted out the room about the time the rag and tape had been removed. Seeing as he'd just about blown a gasket at the nurses for-
"Letting it bleed like that? What kind of a bloody hospital is this?!"
Shelby wasn't strictly happy to see him go, but if being in the room wasn't agreeing with him, maybe it was best the Brit not have to see the rest of whatever was going down anyhow.
Maybe he'd get some of his color back. Not watching the nurses mop up the 'excess' blood. Change of scenery was sure to do him good.
Eventually the flurry of activity died down and the nurses all left to go handle their next emergencies and Shelby was left alone, half-lying half-sitting there, wondering what time it was and what time he'd be allowed to go home.
"Doin' alright there, eh, Shelb?" Asked a Ken whose presence in the doorway surprised almost as much as it pleased.
"Got me a booster for tetanus, a handful of stitches, and a shot of some pain med," Shelby informed with a lopsided feel about him. Realizing he was having difficulty keeping his visitor in focus, but that even so, the grubby mechanic was indeed looking more himself now than he had since right after lunchtime.
"Not in that order, I should hope," the Brit with the crossed arms said with an expression to match.
"Aw, hell, I wouldn't remember what 'order' to put on my pants right now," the man in the hospital gown informed. "Leave the poor quacks alone."
"I intend to," the man in the stain covered coveralls reassured. "Just as soon as somebody around here let's me in on what the bloody hell's going-"
"Alright, Mr. Miles, there's no need to shout," informed a nurse as she walked in the open door. A manila folder tucked under one arm.
"Finally," Ken just about growled.
"Yes, well, X-ray imaging doesn't process itself," the nurse admonished with a quirk of her mouth.
"Anyway, good news, Mr. Shelby," the white clad woman said, turning her head to address the patient. "Your friend here was right: no breaks. You've also been prescribed something for pain management, an antibiotic, and a few days bed rest. Will any of that be an issue?"
"Absolutely," the man almost sitting up in bed asserted. "How in Sam Hill am I gonna run a company with my keister planted on some cushion? No, I need to be-"
"In bed, Mr. Shelby. Doctor's orders. Besides, given your medical history, I expect your body will be glad for the rest and relaxation." Then, with a quick 'Good day,' the nurse was backed out the open door and on to break the news to the next poor soul on her list.
"She didn't even show us the bloody X-ray," Shelby heard his unhappy friend accuse.
"Yeah, well X-ray or no, I ain't listening to a fool word of it, because there is no way in hell I'm staying in bed for days on end," Shelby found himself challenging long after the one he had a bone to pick with was gone.
"Huh?" The Texan asked, not sure he'd heard right.
"I said, 'You're right.' Because you won't be spending days in bed," the Brit started, taking a few steps closer to his American friend's side. "Because you're going to be spending them on a couch. My couch, to be exact. I've already run it past Phil and the boys; they've agreed to watch the shop for a few days. Said it will be peaceful with us out of their hair," Ken informed, face a tad confused at that last part.
"Nope. No way I'm imposing on yer family like that. No, I'll- I'll just-"
"Too late. Molly and Peter already said yes, and besides: you already said you're too looney off medication to put on your own trousers. You're sleeping on my couch until either we get sick of the sight of you, or you've proven you won't die left unsupervised," the Brit demanded.
After a bit of a staredown, Shelby's annoyance ebbed and his mouth broke into an easy smile.
"Why, Ken, I didn't know you cared."
"Oh, shut it and sign the bloody release form so we can get out of here," Ken said, brandishing a piece of paper the man in the bed was positive he hadn't seen until right then.
"Alright, but this time, I'm driving," the Texan insisted as he accepted both the pen and paper.
"That's the medication talking," informed the Brit as he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Besides, I am not letting you behind the wheel of my car. You'd tear its front end off going round the first bend."
"I've driven a station wagon before," Shelby defended, signing the stupid form as soon as the line where his name went revealed itself to him.
"Yeah, and I'll bet it looked very nice when you were done with it. Once the firemen put it out," Ken chided, trading the filled out form for a sack full of what must have been a fresh change of clothes.
"Where'n hell'd this come from," Shelby asked when he managed to extricate an ancient pair of sweatpants that looked eerily similar to a set taking up valuable real estate at the bottom of his dresser back home.
"Eh, Phil brought you a change. Loosest thing he could find," Ken said as he stalked off toward the door. Probably intent on finding somebody to shove the release form at. Leaving Shelby with privacy enough to begin getting himself back to a halfway decent state of dress.
A goodly amount of swear filled, uncoordinated yanking of fabric later and the impatient patient got the shirt all the way down in place. He stilled from his straightening of the hem though at a knock from the doorway.
"Havin' yourself a bit of trouble there, eh, Shelb?"
"What makes you say that?" He asked, hoping against hope that Ken hadn't been standing there long.
"Well, it's only that you've got that on backwards, mate," the Brit said through a snicker.
"You try doing this after gettin' shot up with who knows what the hell kinda drugs," Shelby defended, scowling while Ken had himself an undignified, snorting chuckle. "And what in high heaven is that for?" He tacked on with an accusatory finger pointed his insufferable friend-ward
"What, this old thing? Nah, just a little bit of harmless hospital policy. I'm sure you understand," an ear to ear grinning Ken said as he rolled the offending piece of conveyance into the room.
"No. No, I can walk or-or-"
"'Or' nothin', mate. If you're makin' it out to the car it'll be because I pushed you there," the mechanic said with a gleeful wave down at the shiny, well maintained hospital wheelchair.
Realizing that he'd somehow managed to pull his shirt on inside out as well as backwards, the early retiree hung his head in defeat. Knowing it wouldn't do him a speck of good to fight the point any further.
"Fine. But get on over here and help me get this fool thing on right before I change my mind."
"Sure, sure, anything you say, Shelb," the mechanic enjoying the easy victory managed to say with only a hint of that overly gleeful snicker.
The great Carroll Shelby then swallowed what little pride he had left and allowed his friend to peel the old polo shirt off his back, flip it right side out, turn it around, and slip it over his embarrassed head.
"There. That's better," Ken said, stepping back just far enough to give his friend an assessing look. "What you think, trousers next?"
"I ain't leavin' like this," said the guy whose lower half was covered with a modest length of rumpled hospital gown.
"Didn't think so," the mechanic said with a wry tilt to his brow. "Won't take a moment," he assured as he picked up the sweatpants Shelby hadn't even had a chance to try putting on himself.
A handful of minutes and one near spill later found the pair well on their way down the labyrinthine halls, the one with the fresh stitches doing his best to ignore the way his skin prickled every time he thought he caught someone staring.
"So, how's it feel to be a free man once more?" Ken asked from his place above and behind. Pushing the wheelchair along at a surprisingly steady, measured pace. Not a single complaint in sight.
"You tell me, 'cause I just got told I'm bein' kidnapped and held captive by some crazy-"
"Oh, come on, Shelb, it's not like that. I'll be round to keep you comp'ny and do all the heavy lifting and there'll be three square meals a day. Besides, Peter already thinks of you as his eccentric American uncle and Mollie... likes you?"
"Really?" Shelby asked with a heaping helping of doubt.
"Well enough, anyway," Ken said with what sounded like a shrug.
"Uh-huh. You sure you asked her about this?" The man picking at the edge of his fresh bandage asked on a wry, disbelieving note.
"Yep. She said that, knowing you, we better put you up for a few. On account of her not wantin' your death hangin' on her conscience."
"Glowing endorsement," Shelby assured with a roll of his eyes.
"From Mollie? Not really," the mechanic admitted with a snorting chuckle.
"Well," the Texan started, finding himself suddenly swept up by what must have been a medication induced swell of sentimentality, "Momma didn't teach no son of hers to look a gift horse in the mouth, so... Thanks, Ken. For, uh, for everything."
"Don't mention it, love," the man said as he pushed his friend through a set of automatic doors and out the hospital all together. Just in time for the pair to take a well earned sit down at a waiting bench and enjoy a sky painted all shades of red and purple. The early evening sun setting just right to make a full blown spectacle of itself.
A perfect end to a beautiful Southern California day. No two ways about it.
This is based in part on the time I was under a van, holding a flashlight for somebody, when the darn thing started moving. Thankfully though, unlike for poor Shelby and Ken here, I personally wasn't freaked and nobody got hurt!
Also drew inspiration from that one time I messed up bad enough to need stitches!
No worries though, because for me as well as for our intrepid heroes, everything turned out fine in the end! :D
Hope y'all enjoyed this funky little fic!