Bugsy McPhee was the runt of the litter, was the sixth boy of six the last and the one who killed his mother, according to his father and older brothers. He was the one to blame. He was gangly, the scrawniest, the ugliest of all the boys. Not handsome like the rest, but he was clever.
From the beginning, he could fix things and put them to right. By the time he was six he could fix clocks and toasters. He collected broken things from the neighbors’ trash. He fixed them, cleaned and polished them and a week or so later, put them on their front porch wrapped in red ribbon.
By the time he was ten, he had put a sign on their detached garage, which proclaimed, “Bugsy’s Fix-it Shop.” He was never encouraged to play sports, but he could fix a bike so that it was better than new. Anything anyone brought him he made better, always with a new feature, a new bell or whistle.
Every night after dinner, after he had done the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, he got on his bike and went around the neighborhood looking for parts, in trash cans and in dumpsters. The garage, his shop, was full of boxes of nifty stuff he might need-- bicycle chains, old cords and plugs. Once he found an old piano, pushed it all night, and finally got it home in the morning.
He was good at math, bad at English, but he graduated on time. By then he was fixing motorbikes and cars. Though his shop was not zoned commercial, the town’s mayor and commissioners were his customers. They didn’t bother him. He had no real friends, but everyone was a friend when they needed him. He was fine being a loner. It gave him space. And he needed space. His mind was always busy figuring out how to fix what was wrong with the things they brought him. He loved machines, people not as much.
In the shop, hidden behind some tools was a picture of his mother whom he worshipped. Every morning he stared at that photo, brought a flower or a piece of fruit telling her he was sorry his birth killed her.
His brothers moved on—to college and their careers—doctor, engineer, lawyers, a professor. He stayed home and took care of his feeble father, who finally moved on in the most final way. Bugsy sold the house and moved his shop to a bay downtown. He had an apartment over the shop. His business prospered, but his ways didn’t change.
One night at twilight, he went out on his usual trash and dumpster run. Ready to cross a street in the middle of the block to get to a dumpster, he stepped out between two cars when he sneezed hard. The sneeze blinded him and he tripped out into the front of a huge semi speeding down the block. He was smashed, spread out on the grill of the Peterbilt monster.
In that moment he saw his mother running to him. But he went right through her into a blinding light—as if she were a thin membrane. Then he was above the planet looking at the space station, thinking in that ever-so-brief moment it might need a tune-up, but he flew on past. Out there all alone, he felt the radiance of his mother’s love, and his father’s secret admiration of him. Then one by one and flying by fast, everyone he had helped zipped by with a quick wave. He stretched out to contain all the love he felt until he became so thin and diffused, he finally became love itself, then totally disappeared.