Chop Shop by Yves Jaques

Page Four


I roll the Mercedes into the lot,around the high wooden fence that reads 'Frank's Re-build, Foreign and Domestic'. Toady bought the joint at auction five years back. Story is Frank snorted too much coke, got too many sharks too angry. Disappeared. His loss. Toady's gain.

Every time I pull in this lot I'm reminded of the first time I met Toady. He'd seen me painting at Scheib's that day and walked on over to talk to me while I was masking the Jag he'd brought in. I remember the paint job on it was in great shape and I couldn't figure for the life of me why the idiot wanted it re-painted. I'll never forget the way he lurched at me, this great big guy. His lips were moving and I thought he was gonna take a chunk out of my head. He was just trying to whisper in my ear that he'd double whatever I was getting if I'd come paint for him. And that was the last day I worked for Earl.

I take the car fast around the far corner of the lot and pull up sharp. We're idling outside the garage. "Pop the bay doors," says Toady. "Let's leave it here," I say. "Anyway my hand hurts too damn bad to turn that rusty old handle."

"A little burn?" says Toady. "What a pussy. Just like his daddy." he whispers to Boy.

Boy says to me, "You let him treat you that way?" He opens a rear door and flicks his cigar out into the lot, steps out of the car. He slides the bay doors to and I pull the Benzo into the garage.

Toady's shop is a bit like the land of broken toys in that Christmas special. You could probably find either the front or back half of every make and model of luxo car somewhere on his lot. The man is a genius. When I first stepped onto his grounds that day he hired me out of Earl Scheib's I thought it was a junkyard. Reminded me of the yard next to where we lived at Fort Lewis, where I grew up when my dad was still around. Us kids used to jump the cyclone fence and wander around the twisted metal o f a thousand wrecks. I had a collection of strange parts in a box under my bed, springs, plugs, rusted cotter pins. When I got to Toady's that day I knew I'd found my home. It even smelled right.

The car's inside and Toady is closing the bay doors while the boy is pressing up behind him, getting him warm, saving time that way. I've seen it before. As I step out of the car I see Boy lift the wallet out of Toady's pants and drop it in his jacket pocket. Sneaky little fucker. I close the car door and start getting my equipment together, an old Milwaukee grinder, the warm Coors I left behind, and my walkman to drown out the noise.

Toady leads Boy back into his office. "See ya girlfriend," says Boy to me, grinning and smoking a fresh Swisher. Toady is grabbing the Boy's ass and leering at me. He knows I hate it when he does that kind of shit. He used to try and do the boys in front of me, right on the shop floor, but I kept walking out, and the work slowed down, so he backed off on that one.

The first time he asked me to drive for him I didn't know what I was in for. He said something like, "Let's cruise Aurora," and I wasn't sure if he meant let's drink and drive and smoke and yell shit, or if maybe he wanted to pick up a hooker. I figure d both were likely. I'd already learned not to ask too many questions. He was like my dad that way.

But wanting a boy, that surprised me. I'd never been around a fag. Not where I knew it anyway. Toady is so big and strong I'd never of guessed it. But Toady cleared it up for me sort of. That first Aurora cruise is clear as day. Toady talking and smoking the whole time, wanting me to like him. Wanting me to stick around. Liking my driving. Saying crazy shit like, "Hookers, they stink like shitty perfume. They always got bruises from their pimps. But a street boy, that's something different. Like letting a wolf in the house, and you can't hardly believe it's letting you pet it. There it stands shivering a little, maybe scared. They smell like animals, like dirt, and oil, and shit. None of that flowery smelling crap. I hate hookers."

Funny, I remember my dad always complaining about mom's perfume.