So I took it to this old-school garage in our neighborhood. Coke machine. Popular Mechanics. Burnt coffee and daytime television. It smells like oil, has dirty hands and there are no smoking laws. I love this place. It's the diner of the automotive world.
The mechanic explained to me his plans for my car in a Northern Minnesota accent so thick it was practically Winnipeg-an. The whole thing cost $10 and involved removing a mud flap that had singed itself onto an exhaust pipe, he told me on the phone.
My Former Landlord agreed to take me to the garage to get my car, cleaning a fast food bag off the passenger seat but leaving the wadded diaper and explaining to me the beauty of having a handicap flag for the rear view mirror. You don't have to plug meters.
"There's nothing in it," he said when I'd stared at the diaper uncomfortably long gesturing wildly. He pitched it into the backseat.
This errand was going to require taking me to the garage, then me driving my plastic car home. Him cruising to a drive-thru window to pick up a couple of horse-hinds-and-salt patties for his dinner, then to my house where I would leave my car. I'd driven Chuck's car downtown, our end point. (I now see there was a more concise option. But, see, I don't really play chess).
The car was a fog of cologne. I could taste it so clearly that I could almost hear it. A jug-shaped bottle was in his cup holder. Curve for men.
He drove down the highway with a stack of junk mail pressed against the steering wheel like a map. Pages and pages of fast food coupons yielding nothing but disappointment. He balled up an expired sheet from Arby's and chucked it on the floor of the car.
"Garbage," he said shaking his head and missing a detour on I35.
"It's still Lent, right?" he asked. "McDonald's has its fish special through Lent."
"Isn't that just on Friday?"
We'd been thrown on to residential streets. He blew through a stop sign. "No cop no stop," he said. He lamented the missed detour again. Then, he flipped to being thrilled about being on a road he'd never been on "in all these years here." We clunked past old houses and old buildings and the radio played scratchy country music and when I shifted in the seat I kicked his front console and knocked a piece loose. An ashtray dangled by a thread and I put it as back together as it could be.
He dropped me off and went to McDonald's and we got back to my house at the same time. Again, he moved a fast food bag out of the passenger seat and I hopped in. He stuffed French fries into his face, driving with one hand, his loot in his lap.
"Man," he said. "That dollar fry has gotten so skimpy."
He'd bought two Filet-O-Fish and finished both by the time we were back on the highway. Before a dollop of tartar sauce succumbed to the gravitational pull of his pants.
"That's pretty good crap, I have to say," he said, wiping his hands on his jeans.
* This is all true and verbatim. I actually take notes whenever we spend any time together.
** Also: A few weeks ago I asked him what he was doing on a Friday night because I was feeling dried of blog fodder.