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Greasemonkey: The Extended Edition
"Excuse me, sir."
Christ. Here she is again. Third or fourth time in the past hour, I couldn't remember. I hadn't had the pleasure of dealing with her since Mikael stormed off, thrusting the drill into my hand. It was too hot for this kind of torture. The New York summer hit full force at the beginning of the week. Thermometers around the city consistently hit 100 degrees and left most people scrambling for their air conditioners. I'd long since unzipped the navy jumpsuit with "Mikael's Garage" emblazoned proudly over the left breast pocket and left the top half hanging from my hips. Even the grey tank top felt like a wool sweater, clinging to the sweat on my back.
It was definitely too hot for this shit. Thankfully, it was easy to pretend her voice was lost over the sparking welding torch and the tire rotation in the background. It was hard to breathe behind the mask and I could feel my hands swelling under the leather gloves.
The proximity of the woman's voice made my hand slip, nearly cauterising my thumb. My heart raced in anger. "Look, lady--" As soon as my head turned, my voice left me. The pointed heels led to long, slim (and probably very smooth) legs and a short black skirt hugging luxurious thighs. I swallowed, trying to make myself look away. This chick's a bitch, man, leave it alone.
I stood and switched off the torch, relishing her long blonde hair disheveled by the humidity before pushing the mask to the top of my head. Her expression faltered as she realised her mistake. Despite the amount of grease that must have been covering my face and clothes, I was undoubtedly female. Her eyes drifted to my breasts and back again, as if to make sure. I wiped my hands on an impossibly dirty rag, and extended my right. "Olivia."
Her eyebrow lifted like my hand was diseased. "Is my car finished?" she asked with that uptown condescension.
I looked at it. "'Nother few hours, maybe," I said. I ran my thumb over my eyebrow, squeezing drops of sweat down the side of my face. "Alignment's kinda shot and the front right tire needs a new rim." The back of my hand wiped my forehead. "What the hell did you run over?"
She rolled her eyes. It was adorable. "How much is this going to cost?"
I smirked then, not hiding a long look at her body. "Does it matter?"
She snorted and adjusted her sunglasses. "You people are all alike."
"We people," I repeated, taking a step toward her. I could tell she didn't like it, but wasn't the type to back away. "Just a bunch of gearheads trying to milk you socialites of all the hard earned money your people make for you." My eyes strayed again, watching the sweat gather at her throat. "Lady, if you'd let me treat you like I treat your car, you'd be spending the rest of your life in my lower east side apartment."
She swallowed noticeably and I smiled at her. "I'll have it done for you by four," I said. I think she tried to thank me, but it never made it out of her mouth. I watched her eyes lower and snap up again. Then she turned and retreated to the sidewalk, flagging down a cab. "Have a nice day, Ms. Cabot."
Over the next month, I saw her about four times total. A broken tail light, missing wiper blade, bent antennae and broken side view mirror. I was starting to think she was sitting at home, staring at her gorgeous car and wondering what else she could do to it. I was sure she had used every excuse to bring her car in before I saw her again. Her Audi pulled into the garage and I watched it park next to the front door that was propped open with a large concrete block. I dropped the ratchet in my hand and crawled around the front end of the Civic I was working on and braced myself on my hands. When the door opened, I pulled the sunglasses down the bridge of my nose. She was wearing a longer dress today. One of those Asian-inspired things that I'd probably need to sell my first born to buy for myself. If I wore dresses. The slit up the side of the blue silk teased my eyes with the skin underneath. I felt my hand itch and I rubbed it on the hot tarmac before getting to my feet.
"People are going to start to think we don't do our jobs here if you keep showing up," I said over the noise as I walked up to the car.
She turned and I could tell she was hiding a smile. "I'm on my way to an art opening," she said, grasping one of those little shiny black purses you see in the movies.
I looked around her, scanning the front and rear bumpers, wheel wells and windshield. All buffed and polished just like the last time I'd seen them. "Uh " I looked at her with an arched eyebrow.
Her long fingers pulled the sunglasses from her face and she regarded me coolly. "My engine," she said. I could see the veil of sweat already appearing on her face and neck, now removed from the air conditioned oasis inside her car.
My lips turned into a smile and I pursed them quickly, taking my lower lip between my teeth. "What about it?" I asked, fanning myself with a clean-ish rag.
"It's making a clicking noise." I was about to smile again when she offered me an unabashed once-over. "Will you take a look at it?"
Like faking a stomach ache. Clever. "Sure I can," I replied, wiping the back of my neck and chest. "You want to pick it up tomorrow?" As soon as the words left my lips, I noticed the disappointment creep into her eyes. She replaced her sunglasses.
"Tomorrow?" she repeated.
"We close in an hour."
"Oh." She looked at the purse in her hands.
Any other customer and I'd be pretty close to rolling my eyes and making some snide remark about missing aperitifs that were more expensive than my budget for groceries, but for her I turned and looked into the office and watched Mikael yell at a boxing match on the tiny television in the corner. "Be back here at nine," I said.
I looked at her, wishing she'd take off those glasses again. "I'll hang around," I said again. She smiled, but I couldn't really tell if she was thanking me or gloating. "But I'm leaving at nine whether you're here or not."
I sat on the two steps leading up to the garage office, leaning back and bracing myself on my hands. It was 8:45 nearly two hours past official closing hours. I'd kept my jumpsuit unzipped (which was becoming a regular occurrence), not willing to confine myself in the summer evening heat.
I'd figured that this Cabot woman had either forgotten about her car or just found something better to chase while among her own pedigree. It was a sore spot for me. The gap between the haves and the have-nots only became more obvious as I got older and the older I got, the more jaded and cynical I became. Typically, I kept my distance when it came to the more well-off clients that passed through. Every once and a while, there would be some done up woman sometimes with a driver who'd "request" her car be looked after. This was usually accompanied by an unspoken demand to put her request first before the rest of the work that was already hours behind. It was in these cases that usually prompted me to lay it on a little thick; coming on to them wasn't always the best course of action, but it usually made them delay a return visit.
Cabot was among the few that ever came back past the final trip to rescue their precious vehicle. It was completely unexpected and for a brief hour and a half, I actually believed she'd come back. Now I was just waiting for the minute hand to swing around the face of my watch so I could go home. If I had less of a conscience, I'd have left already instead of staring at my scuffed work boots.
To my surprise, though, a yellow taxi nearly skidded to a halt in front of me. I watched the familiar figure step out onto the sidewalk and enjoyed the view as she leaned back into the car to pay her fare. The woman was none the worse for wear as the cab tore away and she turned to face me.
"You're early," I said.
She smirked, holding that little black purse gently in her hands and I almost hated myself for finding it endearing. "Disappointed?" she asked.
I scratched the back of my neck as I pushed myself to my feet. "A little," I replied honestly. "Your car "
"Yes, did you find anything?"
I looked at her blankly, as if I expected her to confess. There was a momentary standoff before I realized she wasn't giving an inch. "Well it was dirty," I told her bluntly. "I washed it."
She walked by me toward the car, brushing her arm across my chest. "Shame I missed that," she said quietly. Her long fingers trailed along the side of the car, probably checking for dust. She rounded the back of the car and met my gaze from the driver's side. "Want a ride?"
The corner of my mouth twitched and I felt my hands itch again. Now this was a new one. "I wouldn't want to get your car dirty," I said.
"That's okay," she replied, pulling her door open. "I'll just bring it back here for you to clean." She wore a devilish smile that seemed to scare me and excite me all at once. After all those beautifully grotesque women I'd come on to just to get them out of my face, I had apparently found one that either had an absurd attraction to blue-collar dykes, or one hell of a mean streak. "Get in."
I couldn't decide which was more plausible.
The leather interior squeaked as I got in and admired it again. The car was immaculate, so she either loved the thing to death, or just bought it a month ago. I tried hard not to touch anything my mother's rules started to spring forward in my mind again.
She turned the key and the car purred to life. "Where do you want to go?"
"That depends," I said as she pulled the car out onto the street. "Would you rather be seen in my neighbourhood or have me be seen in yours?" The length of time it took her to answer started to make me nervous. I wondered if I'd played the sex card too soon.
She hummed and it made my fingers twitch. "My building has a back door," she said.
My jaw nearly dropped, but as I turned to look at her, I noticed those lips curled into a smile. "That hurts, Ms. Cabot."
The car careened around a corner. "If I'm taking you home " She shifted smoothly. "You'll have to call me Alex."
I smiled at the lights flying by the window. "Anything you want, Alex."
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