Monday 3 April, 2013:
Tau and Leroi are playing chess in the shed, with a chess set they’ve found in some box out there.
“This is an old chess set,” I say.
“It’s an old game,” comments Leroi.
Tau says Scott played chess a lot in jail. He taught Tau how to play – and now Tau’s teaching Leroi.
On the way home later, Tau says, “Miss, any chance I can borrow ten dollars?”
“Sure,” I tell him.
“Would you stop at the shop then, Miss?” he asks.
He gets bread, milk, and two Big Ben pies for himself and Leroi. As he hops back in the car he sighs, saying, “Faar, my parents are stupid…” He bites into his pie, and continues, “We got no food at home at the moment. They don’t spend shit on anything, except drugs.”
I drop them off, Scott’s there and greets us cheerily. “Thanks for the… Miss,” says Tau, just sotto voce and making a little gesture with his fingers, implying cash. I can see he doesn’t want his dad to know he has even a couple dollars left.
Mack eyes me up through the car window, but today I feel tired of being scared of the new dog. I just say, wearily, “Oh, shut up Mack, you should be used to me by now.”
“Haha, yeah Miss,” Leroi agreed. “Get over it, Mack.”
And then for some reason, Mack doesn’t bark when I get out. He just looks at me, from quite a respectable distance away. “Maybe he has given up,” remarks Scott, which makes us laugh.
Wednesday 3 April, 2013:
My car’s broken down, and the mechanic informs me that fixing the engine would cost more than it’s worth. So after school, I walk down to the car dealers on Municipal Rd, going over the bridge towards Bream. There are four places right next door to one another, and I call in at each one, starting from the southern end. The first three don’t appeal to me at all. I just don’t get any vibe from the store fronts, the sales staff, or the cars. Then I go into the fourth place and take half a dozen steps, and stop… and a little voice in my head says, “Ok, this is my new car.”
No reason for it. I don’t know anything about cars, don’t know what the various makes and models signify to anyone – even to me. Plus I have only the vaguest of ideas about what I’m looking for: A practical car; a hatch maybe, rather than a sedan. Not big, but not small either. Something I can drive everyday, and take out of town, too.
Anyway, I pause by this car. I see it’s an auto, which I’d hardly considered. But I just think, hmmm… and stand there, with the same feeling inside: Ok, so this is my new car.
Right then, the boss comes over, and we talk. Once he sees that I have a full license and a job (I show him an electronic copy of my payslip), he presses the keys upon me, saying I can check the vehicle out for 24 hours.
Later, Tau and Leroi are most impressed that I have a car with me.
“That’s buzzy, that they just let you have it like that,” Tau says. “My uncle took some cars for test drives and never brought them back. He did it at about four or five places… ended up going to jail for that.” Tau grins at me, and we snort with laughter.
“And this car’s mean as…” he continues.
“Is it?” I ask, having utterly no idea as to what is considered legit in the car stakes.
“Faar yes, it’s a solid car, aye Leroi.”
“It’s solid as, Miss,” confirms Leroi.
“Oh… really?” I say, somewhat confused as to if they are actually serious, or just being supportive, or even gently teasing me.
“Shit yeah,” they say, inspecting it. Tau looks at the engine, and shakes his head with delight, saying, “Faar Miss, this is clean as, it looks brand new.” Then he checks out the odometer, and tells me, “It’s low Miss, it’s all good – this is a good car.”
Thursday 4 April:
I take the car to school, and get the exact same reaction from Slade. As we approach the carpark, he says, “Ok, which car is it, Miss?”
“This one,” I tell him.
“This one? With the dealer’s plates on it?” asks Slade, with a hint of excitement in his voice. “Is that the one?” He points.
“Yeah,” I tell him.
“Faar!” Slade exclaims, bounding towards it. “Faaaaar, Miss, these cars are solid as, this is boosty!”
He looks at the engine too, and is suitably impressed. “Baaaalling!” he says. “Can’t wait to ride in this – legit as.” Then, as we drive off, he waves to numerous boys along the route, nodding his head and saying, “Yeah, scored me a boosty ride, motherfuckers.”
I can’t help laughing at myself, to think of it. Don’t have a clue, and go to the car yards. Pick out the most gangsta car there, without even realizing. Ohwell, that’s okay, I think to myself. Just goes to show… on some level, there’s a story, huh. A story I can’t always read straight away. But nonetheless, it’s there alright.
Slade tells me, seriously. “If I saw this car, I’d pop it Miss. Straight up. It needs an alarm.”
“Does it?” I ask, a little bit worried. “Would people really steal it?”
“Hard,” he says. “These cars get popped all the time. If you buy it, Miss, you need to get an alarm on it.”
So after dropping him off, I go to the mechanic’s (where my other car is parked, awaiting a tow). He takes a look for me, and says this one’s in good shape. Agrees, too, that it needs an alarm installed – tells me I should talk to the dealer about it, see if he can throw it in with the price.
I head back to the car yard, discuss things with the manager, he agrees to trade in my old car ($1000 off the purchase price) and install an alarm. Even gives me the keys till the weekend, while I arrange the financing.
I miss my old car. But it had a good run, you know. I think it liked these things: Night rides to Carthill; detours through Bream, via Clancy. Slade lighting up just outside the school gate. Pulling up at Fitzroy, Mack barking through the windows. Paint in the boot.