I came across this variation of the old Urban Legend of the “Vanishing Hitchhiker” in a book about Yellowstone Ghosts. The canyon next to home here has a story almost like it. I thought that this one was regional but it would seem to have a bigger telling circle. Have you heard this one?
A man was driving to his new job. It had been almost 2 years since he was laid off and he was exited to get to the town so he could get started.
His wife was now sleeping in the back seat with their 2 year old daughter in the car seat. Less than a month after she was bourn he was laid off and it had been a rough couple of years. In fact he hoped that the car would make the drive. It was old when he got it, but it was payed for so that was the one they had to keep. Now it was rattling. He told himself that if he could drive all night, he could save the motel costs, but now it was snowing and combined with the dark, he couldn’t see much in front of the windshield. And now the car was rattling.
The man look quickly at his wife and child. Asleep. They hadn’t noticed anything wrong. He prayed in his heart that they would never know anything was wrong.
The car coughed hard and then stopped. Costing as best he could to the shoulder, or what he hoped was the shoulder, the got out to see what he could see. The snow fell in thick wet flacks and soon he was very wet. He was grateful there was no wind. As he lifted the hood, he wondered why he was even bothering, he was no mechanic. After staring at hot and still machine for awhile, he walked back to the car and got in. For a moment he wondered if he should walk for help. He looked at the map he printed off the internet and saw that the he would have to walk about 18 miles to get to a town, and in this snow, in the middle of the canyon... And what about his wife and daughter? Could he leave them to freeze here?
He remembered in the truck he had a big blanket and some water. He would just get them and sit in the back with his family until help could arrive or... at lease they would be together.
As he opened the door again, he heard someone under the hood. He walked to the front and found a man in overalls working on the engin.
“Say you had some trouble.” the man said. “I think I’ve just about got it.” The man shivered as he watch the mechanic work. The mechanic wasn’t wet. He had no coat but he seemed not to be cold. “When you get to town, you’ll need to go to Big Mike’s place. He’ll fix you up.” the mechanic talk as if nothing were unusual and this happened every day. “There.” he said. “Try it now.”
The man got back in the car and turned the key. The engin roared to life. And with it the snow seemed to subside a bit. The hood closed. But no one was there. The man got out to see if the mechanic had slipped in the snow, but when he got back to the front of the car, there was nothing there. Nothing. Not even footprints, except his own.
As he got back in the car, his wife in the back seat ask, “Is everything ok?”
“Yes,” he said, “everything is fine. Go back to sleep.”
He drove into town without any more trouble, until he passed Big Mike’s Auto Repair. The engin didn’t cough or rattle, it just died. With some effort the man and Big Mike got the car into the shop. “It’s a good thing the car died infront of a mechanic’s shop.” said the man’s wife, “ and not in the canyon.” “Yay” thought the man.
“How did you get this far in this thing?” asked Mike. “The engin block is cracked and there is no oil in there.” The man told Mike what had happened. “Sounds like Roger.” Mike said. “He was always helping people.”
“Was?” asked the man
“He died up the canyon there a few years back.” came the answer. “In a snow storm, Roger slid off the road after fixing a breakdown. Role the truck down a 60 foot embankment. The best mechanic I ever had. Still sends me costumers it seems.”