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“God chiseled away everything that wasn’t an idiot and when the smog cleared there stood my husband,” Lisa announced, standing in a sweat with Toffee on Knutson Auto’s sunny blacktop, lighting a cigarette, surrounded by broken cars, surrounded by noisy traffic, dead center on a crumbling peninsula that inhaled chicken-fried fuels and exhaled barbecued soot. “He looks under the hood and says, ‘That’s an engine,’ then puffs back to the couch.”
“That’s why I disfigured Cetshwayo,” Toffee said, gesturing for another Marlboro 100. “All he wanted to do was fuck and drink and watch TV. And, damn, could he fucking drink and watch TV.”
“You know what they say, relationships either end badly or go on forever.”
Toffee kissed the dirty white sky. “Then thank God ours ended badly.”
Two men in greenish-brown jumpsuits, Brick Knutson and Marco G., according to the embroidery above their pockets, strolled up to the women. Brick wiped his hands on a pink shop towel, then dabbed his glistening crown. “Whose silver Toyota?”
All four squinted at the heat-shimmering vehicle parked crookedly on diagonal yellow stripes. A passing tow truck honked; Brick waved.
“Mine,” Lisa said. “It makes a spaceship noise when I turn left.”
“Well, you landed your little spaceship in a towaway zone. You’ll have to move it.”
Marco puckered up a snicker at Brick’s frown.
“If you want my business, you’ll move it into your garage and fix it. The keys are in it.” Lisa’s tongue had sharpened her tone. “Comprende, kimosabe?”
“Marco, drive her around the block. The car.” They watched him squeal away. “Be about an hour before we can get her in to have a look see.”
“Uh, I called ten minutes ago and was told I could get it right in.”
“Who’d you talk to?”
Lisa wrote her name and number on a piece of paper, handed it to Brick, then walked away with her fists. “We’ll be in the slime-colored coffee shop next door.”
Sunlight buttered the hot rolls on the back of Brick’s neck as he watched them walk. “Reminds me those grease pumps need fixed.”
Marco squealed Lisa’s car up to Brick and rolled down the window. “Take me to your leader.” Scowled at, he jerked up his whiskery chin at the coffee shop where the upper profiles of the two women sat behind a window. “HHYo, who would you do, purple hair or green hair?”
Brick, colorblind, pulled an ancient fang from his pocket and, pressing the heels of his hands against the window slot, rubbed it with his thumb. “Listen. Fly this spaceship to Overton and check it into the Pentagram of Fire, grab us some lunch, then roll it into bay four and check the power steering fluid. Then hop on those grease pumps.” He straightened and squinted at the browned industrial horizon and murmured harsh reprisals.
Marco looked away from the coffee shop window. “Jack in the Crack coming up.” Then he ran over the tip of Brick’s boot.
Lisa and Toffee sat in a booth under an oscillating fan sipping Death Smog coffee, and every ten seconds Lisa’s purple wing flapped kinkily for the stubbly side of her head.
“They wouldn’t be giving us the run around if we were men.”
“Well, let’s don’t go growing a couple dicks to find out.” They high-fived. “So, why’d you take it there anyway?”
Lisa looked up from her phone and shrugged into fuzz. “You know, I really have no idea. I guess – because there’s a magnet on our fridge?” She turned to grime and glare. She peered through beige haze at the bustling auto shop. “Did they even pull my car in yet? God. This coffee’s making me retarded.”
“They must pipeline it over to Knutson’s.”
Coffee spurted from Lisa’s nostril.
Forty-nine minutes later, her phone rang.
“It’s Fuck Knutson. Hello? Hello? This is Lisa Chive-Curly. Is my car finished? Hello?”
A voice deep in shop sounds, “Best give Marco a chance. Remember, he’s the high priest’s nephew.”
“Wait – what?”
“How many nephews does that guy have? Enough to ruin me. And Marco still hasn’t fixed the grease pumps.”
“Wait – what?”
“He has a dark past. He interprets women literally. He entertains rats out back amongst the used tires. Brick, he’s ideal. Besides, Satan’s into destruction these days, not small business success.”
“Then why doesn’t he just destroy the planet? I mean, what’s he do with all those souls anyway, run an auto parts monopoly?”
“Oh – my – God.” Lisa rammed her phone into her wristlet. “Ate up devil freak must have dick-dialed me!”
They buzzed back to Knutson’s as Lisa’s freshly detailed car perved backwards out of bay two. Marco stepped out and handed her the keys and winked and grinned and rolled his eyes and turned his head and nodded.
Lisa slowly curled her lip.
“Don’t let the hair bun fool ya, bambina. I’m evil as shit.” He shot Lisa with his finger gun. “Dishonor before death.”
“Like this?” Toffee yanked a pencil from his pocket and broke it near his crotch.
Brick jogged out of the office clearing his throat. “Tweaked the steering box. Give her a try for a couple days. If she’s good, stop by Friday and we’ll settle up.” He folded his arms and shook his head at Marco. “I wasn’t talking to you.”
“I’ve never seen your car so clean,” Toffee said, loading a bowl as Lisa sped across the lot, turned left, and entered traffic.
“Hold up. Did you hear the spaceship sound?”
Lisa turned on the radio and a deep scratchy thunder throbbed in the speakers. “Douchebag jacked my tunes!”
“No, wait, this is Ramhate’s new song.”
The steering wheel spun free when a front tire struck a choked storm drain. Lisa spilled her margarita onto Toffee’s cleavage. Bounding over a littered island, the car made a figure 6, then another, then another, then it belly-flopped a cesspool and rocking-horsed a fruitful stretch of ditches and gutters and potholes.
“The accelerator’s stuck!”
Toffee lowered the bong, snorted smoke. “Your wristlet’s jammed beside it!”
Accelerating, the car rocketed over a slag pile, crash landed on a polluted slick, whirled across animated stagnation, then whipped through a weedy lot in reverse.
“Damnit, Lisa! You bong-watered my cat! Lisa?”
Lisa sat up in the backseat. “Stop this mother—!”
The car trunk-slammed a vat of used oil behind Knutson’s and splattered the white building as chocolate splatters a rich creamy dessert. The women staggered from the vehicle slurring adverbs, inspecting body parts, chanting for attorneys and lawsuits and swift justice.
Brick and Marco wiped their faces and surveyed the aftermath from a secular distance: the break area on the roof. “Are you sure you checked that car into the Pentagram of Fire?”
“I thought you said, ‘Make sure you check that damn front tire’.”
“Fix the grease pumps.”