Then, without warning, he saw a geyser of black smoke billowing from the engine compartment behind his seat.
“Chikusho!” he exclaimed, remembering the car delivery representative had warned him to check the oil frequently because the oil gauge didn’t work properly.
He exited the car dejectedly. Then he opened the engine compartment from which smoke billowed. Kenji, praying the engine hadn’t been permanently damaged, pulled out the dipstick and was shocked to find the oil tank empty. He knew now that his well-planned schedule had been ruined. He closed the hood and angrily kicked the car’s tire. Delivering the high-priced sports car to New York seemed a good idea at the time, but the result was becoming ....
Thirty minutes later, the Porsche was towed into the station.
“One hell of a beautiful car! What year is it?”
“Let me try to start it,” said the shorthaired mechanic. The engine was completely dead.
The mechanic opened the engine compartment and examined the dipstick.
“There’s no oil!” he said disgustedly.
“When was the last time you checked it?”
“I hate to tell you this-----but you might have blown the engine.”
“How much to fix it?” Kenji asked, wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.
“I can’t tell until I get a good look inside to see the extent of the damage.”
“How long will it take?”
“I’m sure it’ll take a least a week to get the parts alone, if I can get them at all. Call me tomorrow afternoon. I’ll give you an answer then.”
With his bag in his hand, Kenji left the gas station and started meandering about town. Where should I stay? In any event, I’ll have to call my father in Japan to ask for some money.
A middle-aged woman watering her lawn turned and stared at him as he walked by. A group of boys sitting on the steps of one of the houses stopped talking, nudged one another and stared at him as if they had never seen an Oriental before. Walking in the town he began to feel uncomfortable---even isolated. Nebraska is certainly different from California, he said to himself. Being Asian never drew any attention there.
He went into Denny’s. Inside, it was cool and clean. Several people, who were sitting at the tables, looked at him intently as he entered. He could feel the weight of their stares. He took a stool at the counter.
“Hi,” said a very attractive waitress of about eighteen carrying a glass of ice water. She had a casually arranged up-sweep of dark brown hair in which the top fell softly forward, artfully undone.
“May I have a large ice tea?”
“Sure. With lemon?”
With one gulp he did justice to it. It disappeared into him just as a drop of water in Nevada desert. Then he gazed at the clean nape of her neck as she walked away.
When she returned with the ice tea, she said, “New here?”
“This town likes an oasis.”
“You couldn’t be further from the truth.”
“What’s the population of this town?”
“The baker down the street can tell you that. We all buy bread from him. I would say more or less-----”
“He could feed the whole world.”
“For sure thing we have more grain fields and dairy farms than the high rises. Where are you from?”