Short Piece Involving an Automobile (2 of 5)


Eric is next to a soap-drenched aluminum box, the nerve mass of the coin-op car wash on Gage Street. He’s pulling on a menthol while dropping three quarters into the slot on the side of the metal box.

“I’ll even buy you a wax,” he says, as he turns the rubberized knob four clicks.

He takes a drag, then throws the Newport into the air and snipes it with a burst from the high-pressure sprayer.

“But I was on sudsy wash,” I say, holding up the brush-ended soaking wand and speaking in a bad Scottish accent, “you cannot go straight from sudsy wash to wax — it’s not right. The Valiant is not an animal, she needs a proper rinse. We must maintain civility.”

Eric is sixteen, I am seventeen. We’re coming down from last of the k.b. we bought from Donny, our manager at Vista Hamburger. We’ve been speaking in accents all night though I can’t remember how that started.

During the evening we stole forty dollars pocketing money from exact-change customers, so when a scruffy black man approaches red-haired Eric and asks if we need anything, I smile.

Filed under Fiction on July 4th, 2003