"The Rogue needs a couple of things looked at," she said, meaning her little SUV. "Routine stuff, nothing major. But it will be eventually if I don't keep it maintained." She added that her father had nagged her relentlessly about routine things like oil changes when he was alive. He told her one time that he wanted to make her hate owning a car as much as he did. Instead, she said, by keeping up with oil changes and sticking to the owners' manual's recommended maintenance schedule, her car never gave her any problems. Her father, on the other hand, had neglected his vehicle, ignored a recall notice and eventually needed the engine replaced.
"I don't know exactly what the problem was, but a ten-minute fix he could have had done for free would have prevented it," she said. "Meanwhile, he could never figure out how my little Saturn stayed in such good shape." She said he ended up getting a Saturn Vue because of her "good luck" with her SC-2. However, his bad vehicular mojo hexed it, too. She inherited it after he passed away and had nothing but problems with it.
"I got fed up a couple of years ago and traded it in for the Rogue," she said. She still has her other Saturn, by the way, with 105,000,000 miles and counting.
At the dealership, I looked around while she tried to finish the Stephen Donaldson book. She's a huge fan of the Thomas Covenant series, she said, and this is the second-to-last book in the series. She keeps checking Amazon hoping the last book will be available for pre-order.
"It's going to make zero sense unless you've read the rest of the series," she warned me when I looked at it. "If you're interested, I'll find my other books for you. It's a slow go in parts, but worth it."
We ran a couple of other errands afterwards. When we got home, I went to see what the others were doing. I found them in the computer room. Shel was trying to retrieve a piece of fabric so Jade could take a closer look at it...
When there was a problem...
"It was my fault," Jade said. "I asked Shel to get something down and it fell over."
"No fault. It was an accident," she said, helping us pick up. "Is everyone okay?"
"Yeah, it - where's Shel?" John-John looked around.
We had no idea.
"Leave that. I'll take care of it," Maddy said. "But where did Shel go?"
It took us about half an hour to find him. He was hiding in one of the closets, in tears.
"Shel?" John-John sat down with him. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"I'm sorry..." he sniffled. "Please don't be mad at me..."
"Shel..." Maddy took him back to her room, with us following, He was so freaked out and upset that he couldn't get hold of himself for awhile.
When he finally did, he couldn't look at us. "I didn't mean to knock that box over. I'm sorry. Please don't be mad at me, please..."
"Who's mad? I'm the one who shouldn't have put it up there," Maddy said.
"Shel, what's wrong?" I said. "Why were you so scared?"
He still couldn't look at us. "I thought - I was going to get in trouble for it..."
"So? Who doesn't get in trouble from time to time?" I said.
He choked on a sob. "But my last boyfriend used to hit me when I did stupid things like that. I didn't know..."
"He what?!" we all said more or less together. Shel started to cry again.
When he got control of himself a little, he told us the rest. This idiot had been his first boyfriend and had treated him horribly. At one point he'd even thrown poor Shel down the stairs, breaking his arm and wrist in several places. Worse, when this moron dumped him, he'd made sure to totally, completely and publicly humiliate poor Shel, telling all kinds of lies about him. Everyone they knew had believed the moron, apparently. Our Shel was left with a whole bunch of pins in his arm and wrist, a broken heart and a shattered reputation.
"If you guys hadn't taken me in when you did, I think I'd be dead," he admitted.
"Shel, if anyone tries to hurt you, they're going to have to deal with me," I said.
"And me," Maddy said. "Shel, you poor thing. Why didn't you tell us sooner?"
He looked down. "I was too scared to."
"Nobody's going to hurt you again. I'll sic my mates from Manchester on them if I have to," John-John said. "But they won't like it if they have to deal with me."
That almost made Shel smile. "Since when are you so fierce?"
"I'm not." John-John looked sheepish. "But I love you, Shel. I'm not going to let anyone hurt you. Ever."
We all love him....
*Maddy's note: The above is part of the backstory for Shel's character in a story I'm writing.