The construction workers finishing the huge, opaque-windowed government building near me knock off about three, and some of them trudge down my block to get to satellite parking. I don’t expect knocks on the door on my day off and looked out nervously to see two guys in yellow hard hats standing in front of my house, looking toward the curb.
“Can I help you?” I called from the entry, palming a pepper spray from the hall stand. I may be capable of a hell of a roundhouse kick but I do not take chances with unknown characters.
“Madam, hello, I am seeing this car here at the curb and wanting to know if you are thinking of selling?”
He was surveying Melissa, twenty-two years of slightly chalky paint and a few rust-ulcers, one fender caved in from her encounter with a concrete stanchion back in ’07 after my late-and-ex died and I wasn’t tracking real well.
“Well,” I said, “there is a young man who’ll probably be taking her, but I don’t know yet if he is going to be able to get his license and insurance, I’ll know in a week.”
The taller and huskier of the two guys was Gabriel, and he wanted a serviceable clunker to replace a car that had been whammed downtown by a hit-and-run driver. Right now he was riding with his friend Daniel. As he gave me his phone and e-mail I explained that she was seeping oil everywhere, the power rack leaked, the transmission was a little temperamental in cold weather and the steering was loose. “And the hatch falls on your head,” I added. “She should have about two hundred bucks of transmission service says my mechanic.”
“I can fix the rust and the dent,” said Gabriel, in a melodious West African singsong, a little like what they call Bombay Welsh. “If you tell me by Wednesday I could bring cash on Friday. How much would you want?” I named a sum far above her blue book but far below the price of most bicycles, even. “I just want to let my young friend have a crack at getting his driver’s license first.”
Gabriel’s brow furrowed. “Why does he do crack?”
I explained the expression. “Ah. I worry because I see so many young people, they smoke and drink and do drugs. I do not smoke or drink.” It went with the politesse and the missionary Old Testament names. “Are you a trainer?”
Huh? “You train? Like work out?” I was wearing a spaghetti-strap gym tank imprinted with gym law #4 (“No Stretching In The Power Rack”), so it was a fair guess. I pled guilty to living in the gym. “”I can tell you are in very good shape. How old are you?” I told them; wide eyes all round. “Are you married?”
“Not quite, but almost,” I said, not that I expect to be any time soon, but this was going rather fast.
I gave him a very businesslike handshake as I saw him off, with a promise to call as soon as I had anything to tell him. About the car, that is.
All I can say is, my young friend needs to get his rear in gear. And maybe the Cute Engineer too.