Auto phobia

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Enjoy that which I have given you. Corny, but my sentiments exactly

Submitted: March 04, 2012

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Submitted: March 04, 2012

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Auto phobia by Chen Harker

The car had always been. There had never been a time when its presence was not somewhere. It had taken many forms over many millennia. It had many followers of its dark religion; the most loyal having been Bartimaeus, a German woodcutter from long ago. It lies now in restless slumber. Its prey would come soon enough, it would wait, however long it took. There was no need to rush.

. . . . .

The house was decrepit, its visage one of neglect and misuse. In a time long ago, it had been picturesque, cabin like, whitewashed and fenced in white picket. It had overcome shoddy workmanship with an air of homeliness. Time’s cruel embrace, and lack of occupants for nigh on a decade, had reduced it to its current squalor. Weeds overran the front yard, invaded the porch, and choked the house like an insane ward patient. A tropic wind soughed through the undergrowth, stirring the trash within. The fence had pickets missing, and a small joke written across two pickets: The Berlin Wall. It stood in a part of the outlying city where few went anymore. It was a suburb of a rather large city, although slum would have described it better. The residents had christened it Little Berlin. It was predominately occupied by the descendants of German refugees who had fled the extremes of the aftermath of WWII. Most houses had been constructed fast and cheaply by German labourers, therefore most resembled scrapheaps of lumber, the constructions brought to mind an inexperienced child trying to build a model with Popsicle sticks and aeroplane glue. The house was wretched even by the standards of the neighbourhood; smashed front windows covered with duct tape and flimsy, mould patterned cardboard. The front door, a slab of rough-hewn oak, was gouged and spray painted with various gang insignias. Someone who considered themself a contemporary Nazi had carved a roughshod swastika above the disabled doorbell. Another of his kind had produced an inflammatory remark about the Jewish denomination. Billy Grohmer had the misfortune of living in the disfigured house, but that was not the worst of his grievances. The dubious honour of worst situation in his life belonged to his problems with the car. He had once lived in an upscale apartment, overlooking a section of blooming metropolis. Then this car had come along, and everything had spiralled downward from there. The car had first destroyed his marriage. After the separation from his wife, settled out of court, his savings had been completely wiped out. Then his job as a reasonably well paid tax clerk, vacated from mutual consent, so then he had no source of income, so he had left his apartment, in the fairly affluent part of town, and moved into his parent’s old house, in a neighbourhood where only crime was affluent. The shack was up a fucked up mess, so no one would buy it, even with a ridiculous price reduction. His parents had both died a while ago, his dad from a prolonged struggle with lung cancer, then his mum a year after him from complications in a triple bypass. Better not to think about that. They had been good parents; they had done the best they could with five children and a four figure income. Night was falling outside, the sunset barely glimpsed through a small window beside the tacky poster on the far wall, yet it was nonetheless beautiful. The glistening lozenge of a sun was just starting to recede beyond the western horizon. The twilit sky was an exotic shade of lavender, with flecks of vibrant orange visible through the purple haze. Grohmer stood erect, in the manner of a drill sergeant, inside the parking garage annexed on the side of the house. His countenance was one of defeat and a begrudging humility. His face was prematurely lined, his nose sharp and beaky. His swimming blue eyes were two large; sunken in ashy circles indicating insomnia. He wore tattered cut-offs and a mildew stained shirt faded beyond recognition of its original colour. His back was to a scarred work table, he faced the left flank of the car. Cold chrome reflected light from a dim, fly specked bulb that danced above from a slight breeze, and left coal black shadows, as fluid as water, streaming whimsically on the walls. The garage was enormous, the compacted dirt floor, littered with used condoms, the size of a tennis court, but for all its size, in a state of ill repair. The walls were crumbling around him. Brick dust and pieces of cement lay in piles around the dark garage. Ants scrambled over the garbage that lay among the detritus. The faded and torn poster representing an out dated band covering the wall opposite was flapped gently in the mild draft. Some smart ass had displayed a childish pun beneath the poster, the rock band now a ‘cock band’. The car stood among this rubble, immovable. It seemed as though it had always been there, and that it would continue its vigil through the aeons. The car was an Oldsmobile Toronado, or at least that was its outer form, who knew what really was concealed beneath the false veneer, maybe a demonic force, assuming the form of an object to steal away the hearts of men. These idiotic notions depressed him; they were not his, not really.The idolatry of the car was just another supplanted thought. He stood, still as the eye of a storm; pondering his plight. He was demented, had to be, for all his love was for the car, a thing which could never return his adoration. He had no friends; though he’d had some an indeterminate time before the car had come between him and them. It didn’t matter now; he needed no one when he had the car. He had had his wife long ago, but had left because of his infatuation with the car. He had loved her.

. . . . .

They had married at eighteen, when his love for her was all he had. They had spent three blissful years together, secure in their infatuation. Then, just before the end of their marriage, she started nagging him about a car. She had said they needed one; she had to take the bus to her job as an image consultant, and also whenever she had fetch groceries. He had said that he did not want to start wasting money on fuel; the budget was stretched tight as it was. She had retorted that it was easy for him to say that, he was only two blocks away from his job, and he didn’t have to run errands every day in his spare time. She also remarked he had some money in savings; why not spend some of these? She was starting to get very pissed off, he could tell from the redness spreading around her temples. Also her jaw was spasming, a muscle jumping against the skin. He had relented, sure that if he hadn’t, she would never have stop bothering him. He went to the living room with an old blanket and his pillow, tired emotionally and physically. Even after he cow towed to her, and said he’d buy the car, she still made him sleep on the couch. She was still steamed, so he would try to avoid her for a while. He started thinking about what sort of car he would buy them. It wasn’t till dawn, with the early light filtering through the curtains, that he fell into sleep’s embrace. Yesterday had been a Friday, so today was a Saturday. He had slept in until just past noon, Thank God, He was an early riser by nature; usually he woke with the dawn, instead of falling asleep with it. He didn’t have to work weekends, so he resolved to try to find some kind of car at a little place he knew of. The place was owned by one of his dad’s old poker buddies. He rushed into the bathroom on the second floor, taking the stairs two at a time, not exactly sure why he was hurrying. He took a shower that felt like a freezing hail of small calibre rounds, and proceeded to complete the rest of his morning ritual. He ran back down the stairs, nearly tripping himself twice. Next a breakfast that was technically a lunch, consisting of some dry toast that felt like sandpaper on his tongue, and some OJ that was just fine, if you liked it cloyingly sweet. He had hailed a cab, a good sign, especially in a place like Nordon Heights, and had arrived at quarter past one. He paid the cab driver about ten bucks, told him to keep the change, and exited the vehicle. The first thing he saw when he started towards the shop front was the car, positioned alluringly in the front display window, shining like morning frost in the ambient sunlight. He had pressed his face against the display window, with the candour and slack jawed wonder of a child. The car was just a standard model, fairly old, and not extraordinary in any definable way. When he finally came out of his daze, a quarter of an hour had elapsed, he looked around, red faced, worried that someone had seen him, mooning like a fool, but the street behind him was deserted. Relieved, he sprinted for the door of the salesman’s office. The first thing he saw when he walked through the screen door was the desk. It was a god-awful desk, like a mammoth coated in oil. The salesman himself reclined behind it in a leather office chair, stained with various sauces and unidentifiable smears. He was staring at the cracked, mildew spotted ceiling. His name plate declared that he was Bart Schrodinger. He had a glass plate in front of him, just behind the name plate. On it was a half devoured sandwich, which looked at least a few hours old, lying forgotten in the middle. Billy coughed, slightly annoyed with the man already. When Bart finally deigned to look down, he did so with minimal interest. “Hello, sir, hey… is that you Willy? “Yeah, it’s me, nice to see you Bart”. “It’s good to see you too, son, but God, I haven’t seen you or Kenny for ages. How’s Kenny these days, still trying to blow up city hall? “. He wouldn’t surrender to Bart’s affability, so instead he just said coldly, “Hey, Sorry to tell you this, but dad’s been gone six years now, died from lung cancer, I was always bloody telling him to lay off the smokes, but would he listen? No he had to be fuckin’ stubborn”. “He’s dead? How come I didn’t hear about it didn’t even get invited to the fucking funeral?” “No one but the family went. We didn’t even do an obit. He always said when he died, he didn’t want his friends having to attend, in his words, the most boring non televised event ever”.” “Oh shit, man, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know, you really should have told us, me and the boys thought he just got too uppity to play cards with a pack of dogs like us”, Bart said, a tear slipping from the corner of his eye. “Well, I’m sorry, we just really broke down when he passed, Mum especially, I think she wouldn’t have been able to face telling the people he knew, I can say for sure I couldn’t. But what I really came down here for was to see if you have any good cars”. “Well I can help in that department, what, specifically, are you looking for in a car?” “Oh, I’ve already decided which car I want, you know the Olds in the front display, yeah, well I want that, don’t ask me why, but as soon as I saw it, I just knew, I need this car”. “Okay, you’re sure you want that car, she’s a beauty, but I’ve got some newer cars in stock that I could recommend, especially if you’re looking for safety. You’ll want safety if you’re thinkin’ about having any kids or if you already have any”. The thing that popped into his head first was he hated the man, everything about him was contrived. When he asked if he had kids, he’d seemed predatory, almost. Say you have none, and even if I had some, I would lie and say I had none, he thought sensing something wrong with the man’s question. ‘Well, see, I want the car, but I’m not sure it’s exactly in my price range’, Billy rushed out, nearly shouting in his agitation.“I mean, it’s great and all, but I’m not exactly enormously rich. “Hey, calm down, you think every single guy who wants a good car has the salary of a king? Bart said, sneering in his contempt for anyone with a higher salary than his, ”No siree, anyway, I think we can work something out, negotiation is the salesman’s only virtue”. Billy thought this guy was full of shit; he wouldn’t knock down even fifty bucks if I was the goddam pope. “Well, mister, the sticker price was $10,990 drive away, could we maybe say just an even ten’. “Boy, you sure know how to haggle”, He said sarcastically, in a terrible deadpan tone. He continued on, in a tone of smug assurance, “Buddy boy, you don’t need your superior bargaining talents in this transaction, have you ever heard of a little thing called a bank loan?” ”Of course I’ve fucking heard of a bank loan, don’t you dare insult my intelligence, ya prick”. Whoa, whoa, I’m gonna let the prick thing slide, man, but all I was trying to say is you don’t need to get all the cash yourself, just go to the bank, wait a little bit, and then you’ll get your goddamn car.” “What about the interest rates? It’ll take me years to repay, which I can’t afford, and I don’t have great credit history, either”. “I can recommend an affordable little money lending operation, if you want me to, they don’t charge too much on interest, no credit checks, and you can pay them back at your leisure, how’s that for a deal”. “Is it illegal somehow?” Billy asked, almost sure it was, “Cause if it is, I don’t want anything to do with it, I’m not exactly Mr. Outstanding Citizen, but I still like to keep on the right side of the bloody law” ” No, seriously, everything’s on the up and up, I can assure you of that, it’s just affordable because the guy who owns it wants to give people a fair go, sounds phony, but that’s all it is”. “Well, I guess I’ll think about it, I want this car, but I’m not sure if it’s the right decision, maybe I’ll drop in tomorrow, see how I feel then”. “Well, think hard about this, I don’t want any of my customers buying just because I said so”, he paused for a couple of seconds, scratching his nose, and then went on. “You don’t want to rush in, come back tomorrow like you said you might, we’ll talk then”. He gave Billy the address, which, unsurprisingly, was only a couple of blocks from the dealer. Billy got up quickly, and left the office. Outside in the sunshine, his hate for Bart evaporated. He’s an old friend of dad’s, he wouldn’t try to screw me, he thought, although some doubt still remained in the corner of his mind. He turned it over in his mind all afternoon and decided by dinnertime he wanted that car, no matter what the cost. “What’s that smile on your face about, mister? Have I got something stuck in my teeth?” Laura burst out, giggling as she said so. “No, no, I’m just thinking about a car I might buy for us, it’s kind of old, but as soon as I saw it, it just clicked”. “Did you go to a caryard today? Why didn’t you tell me this earlier? Holly asked, in a hurt tone that could only have been manufactured. “How could I’ve, you just got home, like, ten minutes ago, so technically, I have told you nearly as quick as I could”. “You’re not off the hook yet mister, I’m very disappointed in you for holding out on me”, she said, spraying out some half consumed peas, which kind of disgusted him, even as he struggled not to laugh. “But you still should have told me ten minutes ago”. He quietly finished his dinner, supressing laughs at her mock serious tone, he didn’t know why, but he just couldn’t get over it. Must just be in a really good mood today, he thought to himself. He excused himself, saying he would go to bed early, it had been a tiring day. As he slipped between the sheets, he suddenly felt very horny, he yelled out “Hey honey, you in the mood”. “No baby, I’m sorry, I just have to do some stuff for work, and when I’m done, I just want to go to sleep”. Damn, he thought, and decided to just fix the problem himself. After he had flushed the toilet and washed his hands thoroughly, he had padded across the floor to the bed, and slipped in between the sheets. He punched his pillow to make it more comfortable, and closed his eyes. He soon sailed away into the sea of sleep. He woke up the next morning, performed his morning ritual, and ran out the door, hastily pulling on a thin coat because it was just a bit chilly. He hustled a cab down to the place Bart had recommended, which he still had misgivings about. The outside of the little shop was filthy, covered in soot, as though it had recently caught fire. He pushed open the small door, and once inside, was overwhelmed by the musty smell associated with attics. He came to the counter, where a petite old woman sat on a bar stool, reading a battered old paperback. She looked up, and he saw half her face was a scarred mess. He tried not to stare. As quick as he could, he told her of his little finance situation, and hurriedly signed for the loan. She creakingly progressed to the back room, and came back with a large pile of hundred dollar bills. He counted them out, worried that she was senile and had miscounted. “Do you not trust me, or theenk I stupid just because am old”, she said in an accent that he thought was Russian. “No, not at all, ma’am, I’m sorry if it seemed that way. I just don’t think I’ve ever seen an amount like this before, in money I mean”, he said, with obvious deception. With that, he walked briskly through the aisles of junk. Probably a fence as well, he thought as he went through the greasy front room, and out the door. He went shopping for the rest of the morning, as the caryard didn’t open till noon. By the time midday arrived, he was so excited he could barely contain himself. He drove back to the auto dealer. An hour later, he drove out of the parking lot, experiencing a sense of freedom and possibility that he had never known before. Holly had hated the car straight away, called it an eyesore, and said it was a waste of money. “Well, you wanted me to get a car, I got a car”. “You fucking idiot, I wanted a car I could drive, not you. You selfish shit, you just bought this because it’s what you wanted, you didn’t even think about me or the future. You think I can go to work in this piece of shit, or we could let kids in that thing? Huh, come on, answer me you fucking idiot!”, she shouted, furious. She was irresistibly beautiful because of her fury. He had said he was sorry, and even though tomorrow was a work day for both of them, they had made love. Contented afterward, they had talked the car over more civilly. “Honey, I know you love that car, but couldn’t you have bought a car that was normal, nearly new at least, this car, it’ll probably break down in a couple of years”. When she said the last, he exploded. He started yelling at her about how it was his decision, he had bought the fucking car, and she better stop complaining about it. She screamed back, but eventually her rage gave way to tears, she ran out of the bedroom, slamming the door. She had fled into the bathroom, locking the door after her. He had tried to get her out of there, saying he was sorry, he didn’t know what had come over him. She wouldn’t listen though.


© Copyright 2020 chen harker. All rights reserved.

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