The Resurrection of Palley

Kathryn Lynch

Copyright 2018 by Kathryn Lynch

Photo of marijauna growing in the woods.

On a sunny afternoon in the Spring, a young boy and girl walked together on their way to town. The brother and sister enjoyed these sojourns because they usually ended up treating themselves to a large ice cream cone from McDonald's before returning home.

As they passed by, local cattle could be seen (and smelled) munching on dried grasses, expressing leftovers from the opposite ends when they felt the urge. They heard the faraway sounds of bossy roosters ordering their ladies about the fields. Neighborhood goats walked nearby, following the fence lines in an effort to convince the walkers to produce a snack. Birds of many varieties flew overhead, hoping that the walkers would stir up the local insects, distracting them sufficiently to become a meal.

A mile or so into their journey, the old saw mill came into view. The factory had closed down a dozen years before, lumber becoming at first difficult to get, then next to impossible, and finally slowing down to the point where the mill was unable to pay its employees. Finally, the doors had been locked and equipment lined up in front for a quick sale. Much of the machinery had been sold off. A few pieces had been abandoned to the ravages of weather and the salt-water laced breezes.

What's that?”, asked the girl, pointing to a yellow swathe of color that was too large to be a bush or flower. The boy, who had little interest in flowers, but who could fix anything with moving parts, was driven by curiosity to see what lay partially hidden beneath the tangled weeds.

It's an old forklift”, said the boy, “rusted out, dirty, tangled with blackberry vines., paint faded until it nearly melded with the dead grasses.” “Useless!”, he repeated, but the challenge of fixing the impossible stirred within him.

Once home, the boy began to pester his mom to drive the flat bed trailer to the field where the old forklift was located, so that it could be moved back to the home. Mom, seeing the benefit of having a project which would entice her maturing son to work in the yard for several months, agreed.

When it was loaded, a cloud of dust filled the air. An old beehive ruptured from the movement, causing the inhabitants to protest the invasion and slow down the rescue. A number of small lizards scurried out of the machine and into the underbrush. Gummy brown-flaked water dribbled from the innards onto the rescuers, staining their clothing.

At last, the sad old machine sat on four flat tires in the yard. Dad took a brief look, shook his head from side to side, and said nothing. Mom imagined the day she would have to haul the sorry thing to the Dump. The boy stood nearby looking like a conquering soldier who had just returned home with the spoils of war.

Every day after school the boy worked until dinner time on the old forklift. He began by removing the wheels, chains, tines, and rotted gas tank. Now he accessed the motor case with its rusted walls, finding a nonworking ignition switch, rusted out spark plugs, decayed wiring between the two, and engine pistons coated with years of accumulated grime. After three days, he had scraped all traces of rust from inside the motor case and protected his work with a thin coat of rust-proof paint. The pistons, scrubbed bare with rubbing alcohol shined silvery in the sun. A man in the car parts store took an interest in the boy's project. Soon the guts of the forklift shone with new parts, plugs, and wiring. When the key was turned, the engine satisfied them both by purring like a hungry cougar.

The wheels and tires were a big problem because the tire size was now uncommon and the design of the wheels was no longer in use. After an extensive internet search, the boy found an old man in a pulley factory who knew just about everything there was to know about tires and wheels. Three weeks later, four big boxes were delivered next to the forklift.

There was a third child in the forklift-rescue family, a young boy. Joey spent his days in a wheelchair unable to walk on his own. He loved watching his older brother fix things and he always helped him find the necessary tools. On the day the new wheels and tires went on the forklift, Joey asked for a ride, whereupon his big brother bungeed his chair into the machine's frame and away they went.

The ride was rough because the steering wheel had not yet been cleaned and it seized up without any warning. Both boys hooted and hollered as the old machine, going too fast for the task at hand, putted back and forth on the road, stopping only when it was time for dinner. During the meal, the boys chatted happily and decreed satisfactorily that the forklift would henceforth be called “Palley.”

Now the boy tackled Palley's exterior. He carefully scraped the tines until raw metal shined anew. The tines were reattached and coated with a rust preventative paint. After being sanded, the newly painted machine took on a bright yellow, sunny exterior. The steering wheel was carefully removed, cleaned, and heavily greased to cure the machine of its time-induced “psychomotor epilepsy”. Lastly, new chains were hooked to the lifting mechanism and it was done.

Palley now rested in the sunshine of the back yard, proud, able and ready. His boy wondered if there would ever be work for this magnificent machine. Then, a call came from the local 4H club. They wanted their members (along with their goats) to ride on the float in the Forth of July Parade. One boy was in a wheelchair. It required four men to lift him onto the float, but at the end of parades this help was often unavailable and he became stuck waiting. While the boy held his goat in his lap, Palley lifted the boy in his chair high atop the float, to a cheering crowd. At the end of the Parade, when Palley arrived to take him down, everyone knew about the wonderful machine that the older boy had rescued from the weeds.

Epilogue: Palley became a workhorse for the disabled. For many years, this magnificent machine loaded and unloaded seniors whose vehicle had no lift. It removed debris from accident scenes in order to reach the injured. Palley was always on call to help disabled children to move about.

What Pally treasured most of all were his trips up and down the road next to the house with Joey strapped to his frame, big brother hooting and hollering commands from the rear.

When he finished high school, the boy who had rescued Palley opened a large shop. The sign outside said simply “Fix It –Anything that Moves”. In later years, Palley held vigil beneath the sign, parked and resting in the sunshine, reminding everyone what a determined worker could do. Business was brisk from the very beginning  for the young man's skills and good works had preceded him.

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