Chop Shop by Yves Jaques

Page Two

The signs swing by as we roll, The Thunderbird, The Alhambra, Joe's XXX Fulla DDD's, and Toady almost drops his cigarette yelling, "Here here here! Stop!" one hand pounding on the leather seat.

I ease over to the side of the road. A reedy kid in tight pants and a wife-beater tee stares at the car, dragging slowly on a Swisher Sweet or some shitty cigar like that. The white plastic filter is wrapped in his finger. Makes it look like he's smo king and flashing the OK sign at the same time. Maybe he is.

Toady rolls the window down, the hairs on his knuckles bristling. "How much?" he says. Toady doesn't waste words. He's efficient. He started out twenty years ago souping up fucked-up Camaros and Mustangs. Taking them from the junkyard door and turni ng them into fire-breathing dragons. And for cheap. For his Army buddies to drag outside the fort gates. Get in, do it, and get out. He was always a cannibal. I don't know how many times I've heard him say, "Bring me two cars and I'll make you one th at'll knock your nuts off," or "If I can get two cars to fuck I can make you one decent baby." Toady used to drive me crazy. Even scare me. But you can get to like most anything.

The boy draws on his Swisher, looking cool, like he doesn't give a shit that it's a Mercedes, leans his elbows on the sill and blows a thin cloud of cigar smoke into the car. "A hundred dollars. And that's each," he says thickly, slowly.

"Ain't that a little high? What say we were in a Pinto? What would it be then?" says Toady.

"A hundred dollars. And that's each," says the boy again in that lazy-bone way.

Toady grins, takes a long pull on his smoke and blows it in the boy's face. He says, "Well aren't you an expensive piece of ass? How do I know you're worth it?"

I say, "Fuck it Toady. There's three more boys at the end of the block. Look."

Toady looks over, says, "Well you ain't the one doing the fucking now are ya?"

And then this is the strange thing, the boys starts to sing, his voice catching a little at the middle of each line:

One hundred dollars gets you,
Paint for your pallet-knife.
You can mount me,
On your canvas.
Spread me all around,
And up and down.
Making the green one red.