Johnny America


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

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