The old circular saw, a Skil brand, had seen better days. It was an extra saw, a backup to my good Makita that “got away from me” as I’ve heard my country kin say of a thing that’s come up missing. The Skil’s bearings were noisy, and sometimes the internal clutch would slip if put into the slightest bind. Its shoe was also a little wonkus.
And so yesterday afternoon, as I was winding down the last of the construction details for the Resurrection Stage, the saw gave it up. At first I thought I’d blown a breaker when the saw wouldn’t answer the trigger. But I plugged in my Milwaukee Saws-All and it whirred to life.
It was a few minutes before 4. I didn’t want to buy a new saw in a quickie run to the hardware store. I wanted to take some time and check prices and specs on major brands. But I wanted to get to work first thing this morning so the stage would be done by the end of today.
I called the pawn shop. Gold Mine didn’t have any circular saws. I called Eddie’s and asked the fellow did he have a good name-brand saw. “I got an old Makita with a good carbide blade on it. Forty bucks.”
“Can you hold it until I get there.”
“You need to be here before 5. We’re closing early to let our Mobile folks get home ahead of the weather coming in.” If you don’t live around here, there was a forecast last night for bad thunderstorms, hard winds, and a tornado watch until near midnight. And maybe a test for my stage-building. I told the man at the pawn shop to hold the saw for me, I’d be there before he closed.
Bobby and I jumped in my car. I walked into the store with twenty minutes to spare. “I called about a Makita,” I said to a man behind the counter. He reached toward the floor and came up with a vintage saw with a replacement cord. “It’s seen some use,” the man said.
I raised an eyebrow. “I just wonder if it’s got any use left,” I said, grinning. He guaranteed it to work. “Or bring it right back,” he said.
The Makita, a model 5007F workhorse from decades ago, heavy with a 15-amp motor, was part of what made Makita’s reputation, as far as I’m concerned. You could drop the saw on concrete, forget and leave it out in the rain, and all would be forgiven. Usually.
I knew because that’s the model Makita I used for years when I was a carpenter by trade. My English degree didn’t come with a job, and so my backyard neighbor (who was almost finished with his master’s in English) and I started a construction company with a high-five and my twenty-five-year-old Chevy pickup. When we quit business we had twenty carpenters on our payroll. This guy Mack, my partner, was Suzanne Hudson’s husband at the time! She and I were creative writing students together almost forty-five years ago. And here I am still in cahoots with her, building a stage for her and writer husband Joe Formichella — all of us still messing about with books.
And as soon as I got back to the stage and spun it to life, I fell in love. The saw was quiet. It cut through a treated 2×6 like it was a white pine one-by. But best of all it was a throw-back-Thursday find that returned to my hand a saw that was a sister to the saw that was to me like Trigger was for Roy Rogers. Like Mjolnir was for Thor. Like a Subaru is to snowy mountain switchbacks. I was in heaven for a forty-dollar bill.
Bobby looked at me with sad eyes like I was crazy to go back to work instead of taking him for a walk along the bayfront at South Mobile Street. “You think we got time before it rains?” He yelped and wagged his tail and his eyes lit up. “Okay,” I said.
And we made that destination, and got our walk in twenty minutes before the first fat raindrops fell on the sidewalk and we made a little sprint back to the car. Which he loved. And I was laughing like a kid on a playground. Like a man with a good saw, and an even better dog.
PS: Suzanne approved a motion to invite folks out to Waterhole Branch to inspect my work on the Resurrection Stage. Easter Sunday afternoon seemed the right day, albeit short notice, and 2 to 5 in the afternoon the right time to gather…at 10930 Sandy Lane, Fairhope.