garage

The hard cement floor is stained with motor oil. It smells slightly of gasoline and cool, damp air. Perfect square, it is this non-temperature controlled storage unit. Yes, for the car, but also for junk. Past memories no one will probably go through until their owner is dead. The door is electric and makes a mean sound when opened. Loud and angry like a buzzing chainsaw; repetitive cycles until it finally stops, fully open and I’m gazing out the driveway. It makes the same when it’s closed. Cement walls, insular floor panels fortify this peasant castle. Sometimes when the weather’s warm, Joe opens the maw of this mean door and blasts oldies hits on his transistor radio he’s continued to maintain and fix since he got it, years and years ago. He won’t get a new one. Gifted radios get re-gifted for the holidays, sometimes to the same people who gave it to them in the first place. And he’s take out his ’66 Mustang, open the hood and go to work on it. Always fixing, always improving, always singing under his breath, getting dirty, sliding underneath – But never driving. Completing that car is his White Whale, his Moby Dick. And he’s Ahab with a beer belly and five o’clock shadow at every hour of the day. The radio emits a tinny buzz as Frankie Valli sings about big girls not crying. Joe only seems to be complete when he has a wrench in his hand and a open can of beer close by. He used to smoke while he worked, always with a cigarette out of his mouth. But after the accident, he got spooked and quit cold turkey. He seemed more concerned about the car than then third-degree burns on his arms, wrist, and face. The scars healed up though. Well, as much as they could have. But Joe still looks like his mouth might taste like an ashtray, despite not smoking for 20-odd years. The man takes no vacations, has no family. Just has this lonely relationship with him and his car. The car is his woman, his child.