Welcome to the stories about Rode Apple Junction, a small rural community where people are fair, but small-minded. It is where being yourself is fine, but it is okay to try something else just to confirm you are not so bad-off after all.
Right smack in the middle of Rode Apple Junction’s business district is Uncle Bert’s Fixit Shop.
Bert can fix just about anything except what belongs to him. He still drives around in his ‘68 Chevy pickup truck with “Uncle Bert’s Fixit Shop” stenciled on the doors. He still had the four digit phone number. He uses a long flathead screwdriver to open the tailgate and to start the truck by bypassing the solenoid.
The man is a genius though. He can fix anything. Bert always says, “If you have just basic mechanical ability, logic, and time you can fix anything.”
Not too long ago Ferdy Fenstermaker climbed down out of the cab of his tractor and stumbled into Bert’s place white as a sheet and short of breath.
“What can I do fer ya, Ferdy,” Bert said looking over the top of his glasses.
“I don’t know, Bert,” Ferdy said gasping for air. “I think it’s my pacemaker. It could be on the fritz.”
“Shouldn’t you be seein’ the doc?” Bert said about to reach for the phone. “Can’t afford him and he’s at the edge of town; I don’t think I can make it.”
“The only thing I know what to do is call the Doc,” Bert said about to dial.
“No, no, don’t do that,” Ferdy said. “He’ll charge me a house call and for the emergency. Last year I had a cow’s udder caught in the milker. I didn’t know what to do. I called up to the house and told Louise to call the Doc; the cow’s got an udder caught in the milker. I meant the Vet. Doc comes out. He lubricates the thing with baby oil and I get a bill $817.42. I ain’t callin’ the Doc.”
“Well maybe after that one ya got free one comin’,” Bert said putting the phone to his ear.
“I’m not takin’ any chances,” Ferdy said. “Any body who can fix a ’59 Philco transister radio ougta be able to fix a pacemaker.”
Bert rested the phone on the wall. “What did ya do just before you started getting short of breath?”
“I turned the corner down at the stop sign,” Ferdy said.
“Hmm,” Bert said. “Nothing unusual about that.”
“Show me how you did it?” Bert said and brought a chair he was working on from behind the counter.
Ferdy sat in the chair and started to speak.
“Hold on,” Bert said. “Was ya bouncing around?”
“Sure,” Ferdy said.
“Than bounce,” Bert said.
Ferdy looked confused , but bounced.
“Good,” Bert said.
“Now make a sound like a tractor,” Bert said.
Ferdy hesitated. Bert gave him an assuring nod. Ferdy created a sound with his lips vibrating.
“No that’s not right,” Bert said. “That’s more like the sound of a lawn mower. Less nasal and more throat. Remember, yer a Massy-Ferguson.”
Ferdy stopped. “Is this necessary?”
“Yes it is,” Bert said. “We have to recreate the exact conditions if you want a proper diagnosis.”
Ferdy bounced a little and made the sound of the tractor to recreate the entire experience just as it happened..
“Ya better change them plugs,” Bert said.
“I’ll do that,” Ferdy said. Ferdy pretended to apply his breaks. He extended his arms to signal a left hand turn.
“You got push that deep on the brakes ta stop?” Bert said.
“I’m short,” Ferdy said.
“Right, right,” Bert said.
“Don’t your signals work?” Bert said.
“Haven’t worked since the winter,” Ferdy said.
“I’ll fix ‘em for ya,” Bert said. Then he stroked his chin. “Take your left arm and extend it across your body to the right. The opposite of a left-hand turn signal. But before ya do come to a stop and turn off the engine.”
Ferdy did just as Bert instructed him.
“Now hold it there for a moment,” Bert said.
The two men stared at each other.