Archive | February, 2013

The Car Men

16 Feb

This is a sequel to my post about my accident, but also an excerpt from my novel, which should be done sometime next month. 

I was in a wreck a few weeks ago. The wreck destroyed my car, my hope, and my desires. It destroyed my happiness and my joy and it made me feel ugly and painfully, painfully mortal. I have only been able to listen to Fleetwood Mac since the accident because the silken, medicine-woman voice of Morraine Goobenstein is the only voice that can soothe me now, as if it were the sound of life itself.

God what is that woman’s real name.

I lost that woman’s name in the accident.

The entire week after the accident, I struggled at work. I would be processing a vehicle title, leave off part of the address. My supervisor would ask me to void out the transaction, tell me that I’d made a mistake.

“I’m sorry,” I’d say. “I just can’t focus.” I’d then look into the monitor, totally vacant. “I’m not here today.”

Truth was, I was there, you see. I was in my seat. But I meant like my mind was far, far away. My mind was by the Valwood exit on 35, looking for change that might have fallen out of my car because damn it that is still my money and every bit counts.

Other times I’d get caught staring at a woman’s bottom and she’d make a face and maybe even rebuke me a little and I’d just look up at her with this hangdog expression and whisper “I was in a wreck,” and I’d be granted immediate forgiveness.

Once, I was sitting at a table at Jupiter House and a very stinky man asked me if he could share my table since it was the only one available with a lamp. I looked at the seat he wanted, then turned my body in this very labored way and pulled my legs out from under the table with my arms and said “I need to be alone. I was in an accident. And while my hands and my mind are fine…” I look down at my penis. “Other things might not be. And I don’t know if you want to be around when I figure that out, whatever the results may be.”

“Why do you do that with your legs?” He asked me. “I saw you walk in here. I was behind you in line.”

“Then you are first in line to get your ass kicked,” I said, acted as if to get up, then crumbled to the ground. “My legs!” I bellowed. “This man has stolen my legs from me!” I looked around for support. I looked at him. “Were you the other car?!” I clawed my way over to his feet and started hitting them as if I were playing a very boring version of Whac-a-Mole. “Take my legs from me,” I muttered. I heard a peculiar hissing sound then looked up. A man with a wheelchair was rolling by on his way to the register.

I cleared my throat, then stood up and nodded to the stinky man whose feet I had been hitting.

“No you cannot share with me.”

All this is to say that I now am in need of a new mode of transportation. I need to move on. I need a fresh start. I need a new beginning. I need to be born again. I need to hit the Refresh button on my life. I need to turn myself off and then turn myself on again ( 🙂 ). At some point during the accident, I lost my glasses–or I thought I lost them. I actually found them a few days later when I went to the tow yard and took all my belongings from my car. But before I got a chance to find the old ones, I bought some new ones to replace them. The new ones look better and more adult and make me look like a young, happy software engineer that has two kids and carries his groceries home in paper bags.

The next step is to purchase a new vehicle. I have tried this several times on my own.

The first time, I met with a diminutive, leathery imp who told me that he was working hard for me and would sell me a used Civic for what I later found out was almost a grand more than new ones were going for. I told him “I’ll think about it,” then left the shit out of there.

The second time, a man of indiscernible nationality took me on a test drive of a slightly nicer used car. He smiled a toothy smile and when he did he looked like he was hungry. His teeth were the color of limestone and looked slick like fish fresh out of water. His eyes were beady and set like they were hiding behind his glasses. He had curly hair that looked like pubes.

Once in the car, I tried out the sound system. No matter what station I turned it to, the man would close his eyes, bite his lower lip, and wag his puffy olive-skinned finger along to the beat like some deli metronome. It was sort of rainy that day and he kept telling me to “Gun it,” and I was still a bit shell-shocked from my wreck less than a week past, and so I didn’t want to gun it, hardly even wanted to take it out of the parking lot to be honest, and so instead of gunning it, I would instead accelerate almost imperceptibly then press myself against the back of my seat and say stuff like “Woohoo” and “She’s a spicy taco, isn’t she?” The man looked at me and I could tell I was making him sad. I asked him how to get back to the dealership and he led me there.

When we got back from the test drive, he and another salesman sat me down and took out a bunch of papers, all with different numbers on them. The other man was a large African-American man named Wayne and I felt like I could trust Wayne because his accent was mine and he smelled like Old Spice aftershave, unlike the other man who smelled like he bathed by standing around in a public fountain then doused himself in a basket of body spray. Wayne had a big belly like Santa Claus and a tiny mustache that traced the top of his lip.

“Now John,” they said to me, in unison. They laughed and looked at one another, then bumped knuckles and looked back to me.

“We always do that,” Wayne said. The ethnic, who to this point I do not believe has told me his name, nods. “It’s just from working together for too many years.”

The ethnic tries to do the unison thing again, trailing Wayne, muttering “Too many years,” a half beat after Wayne says it. Wayne looks at the ethnic with a hard look and for a moment I think he is going to hit him.

From the way the ethnic’s face falls after saying that, I wonder if maybe the phrase held more meaning for him than he had anticipated.

“We have set up an offer sheet for you, John. Now this financing could change depending on the down on the length of the lien and what sort of interest rate we can get for you, but that’s just something we’ll have to check on once we get all that set up.”

“Of course,” I say. I do not know how to apply any of what he just said to me. I just assume he’s lying to me about something and get my guard up.

“We’d like to make you a competitive offer–and this is our lowest price possible. It gets no lower than this.”

He slides a paper across the table to me, his cocoa brown hand skin covering up a great swath of the middle of the page. I try to take the page from under his hand, but the hand does not move. It is resolute. I look at the hand, its slight gloss showing it to be well-moisturized, the tiny pores that seem to hold no hairs.

I tug again.

“May I look at this?” I ask Wayne. Wayne lifts his hand.

“This is more than the sticker price,” I say.

“The sticker price is a fluid thing.”

“A fluid thing?”

“Yes. Liquid. Malleable. It can change at the drop of a hat.”

“Yeah, well then I’m liquid too,” I say, then slither to the door, swaying wildly as if I were made of a liquid.

“Wait,” they both say in unison. They glance at each other and scoot in their chairs until their thighs touch.

“Too late,” I say. “I’ve been insulted.”

I get in my car and hit the highway going 35 mph. A veritable rocket, I was.

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