Vicky’s truck broke down on a farm now owned by the oddest man she’d ever met. Now, it seemed he could grow crops at an incredible rate. All of these things qualified the day as strange. Wait a minute — there were three wives in the title. Where are they?
The extraordinary sight and what it meant could not have distracted Vicky for more than a moment. However long it was, a bright flash of light under her truck brought her back to reality. Fortek slid back into view and stood up, brushing the dust off himself. Oddly, he didn’t have any grease visible.
“It will work now,” he announced.
Vicky was astonished. “It will? How can that be?”
“It was a simple thing. Perhaps you should do a test. That might not have been the only problem.”
Vicky chuckled. “There is everything wrong with the truck. Taking care of all of it, as you say, is simple. It requires a simple thing I don’t have. It’s called money.”
Fortek seemed perplexed. “You work in the place that has lots of money. How could you not have it?”
“It’s called a conflict of interest. Those who work with other people’s money are not allowed to have any themselves.”
“I do not understand.”
“It does not require understanding. The only requirement is that everyone put up with it.”
Forte blinked. Then, with no other visible reaction, told her, “Start your vehicle. We will go to the end of the field and return. I will ride, too.”
Vicky sighed and climbed in while Fortek walked around and climbed in on the passenger side. He cocked his head and listened as Vicky started the engine and put it in gear. Whatever he had done translated into immediate action as the truck rolled forward with no hesitation or noise. As they picked up a bit of speed and the automatic transmission upshifted, Fortek shook his head.
“Please stop. That is not right.”
He went out the door and slid under the truck with the engine running and still in gear. Vicky thought that was strange, not to mention dangerous. He popped back out a moment later.
“Please turn it off. I can take care of it.”
Vicky did as he asked. The truck hadn’t shifted smoothly since the day she bought it. Her mechanic told her several times that fixing it would cost more than the relic was worth. She was suddenly aware of multi-colored lights flashing all around her and the truck. A moment later, a pronounced white flash along with a slight thump came from underneath. The flashing lights disappeared, and Fortek reappeared. Spots of grease and dirt seemed to evaporate from his skin and clothing as he stood up. He got back into the truck as though nothing unusual just happened.
“Try again,” he instructed.
There was no way to get much speed but the truck now ran like it was new. Vicky had no idea what she could report to Roger. None of this had anything to do with how things got done anywhere, much less here. There was certainly no way the bank should make the man a loan. After all, there would be no way to collect anything if and when he disappeared.
She wondered if the Federal surveillance watched all this. Then it occurred to her that the Feds might now want to interview her directly. That part did not bode well. On the other hand, she now apparently had functional transportation. Hopefully, that functionality didn’t happen to include trips through space, dimensions, or time.
Meanwhile, Fortek relaxed in the passenger seat as they approached the end of the field. He finally pointed ahead.
“You will be able to turn around right there.”
The steering was uncertain when she bought it and got worse since. Now, however, the steering was tight and precise, giving a smaller turning radius than she could remember.
“Please stop now,” came from the passenger seat.
Vicky immediately stopped. The brakes were far better than she could remember. Mostly, she wondered what Fortek decided he needed to fix now. The man didn’t move. A moment later, she heard and felt clunks and clanks just behind her. Turning around, Vicky saw hoes, rakes, and shovels dropping into the bed of the truck. Following the tools were three attractive young women who looked as though they dropped from a reality TV show. One grinned and waved to her through the back window and another pounded three times on the top of the cab.
“Is this why we’re out here?” Vicky asked Fortek. “Does the pounding mean we can go back now?”
“It is an exchange of favors. I repaired your vehicle, and you helped get the wives.”
There had been more strangeness with this situation than Vicky could easily count. For some reason, she had thought of Paul Fortek as a single person. She thought that even while concluding he might not be human. Julie thinking she might have been a personal reaction on Vicky’s part to Mr. Fortek was more accurate than Vicky herself could have believed. While there was something about him that got her hormones racing, Vicky now saw he had three — count them, three wives. All looked like Hollywood starlets or models, too. The whole situation was too much, and Vicky decided on the short drive back to the ramshackle residence that to preserve her sanity, she had to put the whole thing behind her.
The three ladies vaulted out of the back before she completely stopped. It was like they all came from the same mold. The only difference between them was their hair color. One had raven locks, the second was blonde, and the third was a redhead. It was the redhead who bounced up to her window.
“Come inside. We’ll have lemonade or iced tea.”
“I couldn’t possibly,” Vicky started to say, only to have the redhead open her door.
“Don’t be silly. We all need something to drink.”
It was a good thing Vicky wasn’t leaning on the door. She’d have been on the ground, otherwise. Outside the truck, she considered how to get out of this insane asylum.
“Mr. Fortek, the way you repaired my truck, I wonder why you haven’t done something to the house.”
Paul stopped to consider the comment. The raven haired gal and the blonde ganged up on him at that point, each overtly pressing against him. “Yes, why don’t you do that?” they both cooed.
There was silence for a few moments, and then multi-colored lights appeared, whirling around the place. Vicky got the impression that fixing the house represented more effort. Vicky saw more lights and they danced around the place several minutes before multiple flashes of brilliant white light burst from all parts of the old home. Then everything became quiet again. The house had not become a fairy tale castle. As a matter of fact, it was not painted and didn’t even look very different from before. Now, though, Vicky got a feeling of strength and substance radiating from it. There were windows and doors now. The porch looked like it could take her weight without collapsing.
As they went into the house, Vicky noted the ring finger of each of the three women. There were gold bands on each, all identical. Inside, the three were all over Paul Fortek. Disconcertingly, he reserved all his attention for Vicky, who excused herself as quickly as possible.