July 24, 2009

I’ll see if we’ve got one in stock

by Jack Ohms

We drove over to the outskirts
trying to get the battery to charge in Maarit’s car
and stopped at a parts dealer
for a new one and other stuff that needed fixing;
indicators not working,
some fuses gone.

When we walked in there
two guys stood behind the desk
expressionless in the company colours,
as always; bright blue, yellow, white;
other guys leant over the counter, hips out, comfortable,
waiting for the print-out
in dust blue-coloured overalls covered in swarf,
tanned drivers' faces.

I looked around and felt strangely out of place again;
noticing the white wire racks full of replacement parts,
hanging there; bulbs, shock-absorbers, brake pads, wheel-trims,
racing car magazines
on a strangely unwelcoming table and four cheap chairs
in one corner, a coffee machine whirring and
a hundred different shades of spray paints
all good men stuff.

And I thought of all the millions and millions of cars and vans
and trucks and coaches and buses
using all these parts, turning, buzzing, whizzing, whirring
collecting grease and road dirt
up and down a million different roads
endlessly on and on, parts, parts, parts,
wearing out, spark-plugs firing a trillion trillion trillion
cylinders every millisecond
and I reeled and began to sweat.

Then other guys turned up - speeding up the short driveway
in flashy, shiny models, like the ones you see on telly
driving through rugged landscapes, alone -
enquiring after stereo’s, more wheel-trims,
accesories, additions, up-grades;
with the wife in tow looking uninterested;
people totally engaged in society.

Then I catch my open sores from the beating I got
the night before on the edge
of a cardboard cut-out man
in company overalls;
blue, yellow, white,
holding up an exhaust pipe and smiling
about something - I don't understand,
so I go outside
to get some air into my clogged up filter
while Maarit pays with her card
and waits an interminable time
for the damn print-out.


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