Written by James McCann
Johnny Walker chuckled, he did that a lot, had done so his whole life. He had to to make it through. His daddy had been an alcoholic, his momma had been a chain-smoking enabler. Johnny’s daddy had thought it was a blast to name his only son after a brand of whiskey, even if it was a brand he didn’t particularly enjoy. Other than a death-by-addiction waiting to happen, the only thing his parents passed down to Johnny Walker was a skill with engines. Being a mechanic was a job, it was something to keep a man out of crime, nothing more. That was good enough for Johnny, and anything else would’ve been to, if it kept him in just enough money for the weekly rent and the four or five cold beers he allowed himself on a Friday night.
Never one for what his drunken daddy had called, in a slur, “pomp-puss book lurnin”, Johnny had, over the years, conditioned his mind to look for dignity and honour in working with his hands. If he didn’t break a sweat doing whatever it was he was doing, then it wasn’t really work.
‘Hey, Johnny.’ Big Eddie called from the office. Big Eddie was a giant, fat black man with a tightly curled crop of wire-like hair and a thin moustache, who owned the garage. Eddie had given Johnny a job several months ago, and although they were friendly they would never be friends. There was something about Johnny that Big Eddie just didn’t like, something about the skinny white boy didn’t sit well with the man. ‘Your girlfriend’s here.’
Johnny slid out from under an antique Ford he was working on, the light of day making him squint. He liked it under the cars, it was dark and cool under there. All the world could see of him was his blue overall-covered legs and oil-stained work boots. They would leave him alone then, not wanting to disturb him during his work. Once his upper-half was visible then people would try to talk to him. Johnny usually didn’t like people talking to him.
Sitting up and rubbing a dirty forearm over his sweaty, dirty forehead, Johnny craned his neck to look out onto the forecourt. The afternoon sun was beaming down, heat shimmered off the asphalt, making dancing images of everything out there. Coming towards him he saw the perfect legs of his ‘girlfriend.’ Mrs Veronica Sanders was a tall blond who had married young and married rich and had never had to work a day in her life. A s a result, she had kept her looks and, well into her forties, was still as pretty as when she was in her twenties. She was taken care of, never had children, and Johnny was certain that after nearly three decades of marriage Mrs Sanders had a well-exercised wandering eye.
‘Hello, Johnny,’ Mrs Sanders said, softly, seductively. ‘How are you today? It’s cool in here.’
‘It’s cooler under the car,’ Johnny said, hoping it didn’t sound like an invitation. He wanted to make eye contact, but found it impossible. He had to keep looking away. His eyes ran over her neck, her cleavage, her legs. ‘What’s wrong?’
Johnny had not wanted to be so abrupt, but he had never been very good at small talk, and had never been very good at talking to women. He knew as soon as he’d spoken that he should’ve remained quiet a little longer and let Mrs Sanders carry the conversation.
‘I’m not too sure what’s wrong with it,’ Mrs Sanders said.
I know what’s wrong with you, Johnny thought. I know how to fix it, too.
‘Every time I go over sixty the engine starts making a clunking noise.’
I’d like to make you make some noise.
‘Sure,’ Johnny said, standing up. As he did, he let his eyes linger over her body awhile longer. He could smell her perfume; it was a rich woman’s perfume. The type that costs a week’s salary for an average person, and the amount you got was less than Johnny could spit.
Mrs Sanders handed Johnny the keys, letting her fingertips gently caress his palm as she did. Mrs Sanders didn’t really believe that she’d have an affair, but she did like the attention. She liked making the working class stiffs…well, stiff.
‘How long will it take you?’ Mrs Sanders asked, looking Johnny over, seeing the way his shirt clung to his sweaty frame. Part of her would have liked to have an affair, but a dirty, nasty one. Not the prim and proper ones depicted on daytime TV. This would have to be hot, sweaty, passionate. Frankly, she wanted Johnny to throw her onto the hood of that Ford and make her beg for mercy, beg for more.
As long as it takes, Johnny thought.
‘I can have it ready by tomorrow,’ Johnny said. ‘You want to come by and pick it up tomorrow afternoon?’
‘I’m not sure if tomorrow is good for me.’
‘I can drop it off for you, if you want?’
‘No. We live all the way out on Canyon Road, it’s- ‘
‘I know where it is.’
Johnny would always wonder if Mrs Veronica Sanders caught what he said. Johnny would always wander if Mrs Veronica Sanders thought he meant he knew where Canyon Road was. Johnny was fairly sure that Mrs Veronica Sanders knew exactly what he meant.
‘I’ll call you tomorrow,’ Mrs Sanders said.
‘I’d like that.’
‘To arrange a pick-up.’
‘I know what you meant.’
Mrs Sanders smiled, the curves of her mouth curled up invitingly, her eyes scanned Johnny quickly and returned to his, holding his gaze. ‘I’ll speak to you tomorrow,’ she said, bit her lower lip, then turned around and walked away. There was a car waiting for her. All Johnny could see was a large cloud of blond hair behind the steering wheel, he assumed it was a girlfriend, not a lover, driving.
‘You going to fix it properly this time?’ Big Eddie asked.
Johnny figured Big Eddie was actually pretty decent, all things considered. He counted his pay at the end of each week before walking out, obviously, but Johnny really thought for the most part his drunken daddy might have been wrong about the blacks. ‘Don’t trust um,’ his daddy had said. ‘They rip y’off ev’ry chance…an wha thah call musak, puh...’ Over time, Johnny had come to recognise that most things his daddy had said were bullshit, but Johnny still liked to discover for himself. He never knew, one day the drunken old man might just be proven right about something.
‘I always do,’ Johnny said, resting back down and sliding beneath the Ford. ‘I know just how to fix what’s wrong.’
Big Eddie was in the latter stages of his closing down ritual, all tools cleaned, oiled and put away in their place. Unlike most people’s view of a working auto-shop, Big Eddie kept his place spotless. Would you trust a surgeon who performed in blood-stained scrubs or used utensils with a chunk of meat on? So why should anyone trust a mechanic who was covered in oil and grime and dirt? The majority of the equipment in Big Eddie’s looked like was less than twenty-four months old, when the youngest tool had been in service for seventeen years.
Johnny knew closing time was approaching, partly because of Big Eddie putting things away, but also because the auto-shop took on a different feel at a certain time in the afternoon. It began to cool, it began to quiet, it began to still. It was like a bright, fiercely burning bonfire reduced to a smouldering pile of charred rubble, perhaps only a few remaining glowing embers giving any heat.
‘Hey Johnny,’ Big Eddie yelled. ‘You still with us, man?’
‘I’m here,’ Johnny said sliding out from beneath the Ford. The job on the Ford should have really taken him no-more than an hour, but Johnny’s mind had been on other things most of the afternoon. All the time he’d been back under the car he’d been thinking of Mrs Veronica Sanders’s lips, hips, neck, breasts and legs. More accurately, Johnny was thinking about what he would do to Mrs Veronica Sanders’s lips and hips, legs and breasts. He thought about what it would be like if she showed up here late one evening after Big Eddie had left, just Johnny and Mrs Sanders, alone…
‘Lock up time, Johnny, ‘ Big Eddie said with a laugh. ‘You not got a home to go to?’
Interesting choice of words, Johnny thought. He had a one-room apartment above a diner ten minute’s walk away, but had never really seen it as a home. It was a place to sleep at night. A place to keep his stuff, which wasn’t a great amount.
‘Ah, hell,’ Big Eddie said, and began to move much more quickly.
‘Problem?’ Johnny asked, still sat on the ground by the Ford.
‘The time.’ Big Eddie’s shirt began to get darker in the armpits, his considerable jowls jiggled comically. ‘I’m late. Doreen will kill me.’
Johnny glanced from Big Eddie to the allegedly broken car that Mrs Sanders brought in, and his mind ticked-over. ‘Hey, uh, I can lock up. You take off.’
‘Thank you, Johnny.’ Big Eddie grabbed his jacket and waddled as quickly as his frame would allow him to move. ‘I owe you one.’
Big Eddie jiggled his way over to his car (Johnny chuckled at the sight of the massive buttocks swaying to and fro), sat behind the wheel (the suspension giving out a grown as it collapsed beneath the weight), and drove off.
Johnny didn’t know or care what Big Eddie was running late for, it didn’t matter. He got up, dusting off the seat of the overalls out of habit, walked into the cool office and took a bottle of Pepsi from the fridge. He swallowed the first gulp, thinking about that car Mrs Sanders brought in. The last time he fixed it, it was the radio that mysteriously stopped working. Johnny knew as soon as he saw it that it was broken at the hands of someone carelessly pulling and tugging at wires.
He didn’t know exactly why, but he did know the sooner he got the car fixed and back to her, the sooner this game would be over. Either Mrs Sanders would pounce on him and he’d show her all she’d missed out on over the years, or she’d take the hint and stop coming around every two minutes. Not too deeply beneath the surface Johnny was getting bored of the game, he didn’t like waiting for things. You’re either swimming or you’re not, don’t spend all day dipping your toe in the pool.
Johnny took his half-empty Pepsi with him out to Mrs Sander’s car. He walked around it slowly, softly stroking the body work the way he wanted to stroke Mrs Sander’s, imagining taking Mrs Sanders in the back seat yet hating her husband for all his ostentatious wealth at the same time. The man, whom Johnny had never met, was rich, and to Johnny, that made him a vulgar, needle-dicked prick. Johnny did not come from wealth, knew he would never experience wealth, and therefore had come to the conclusion that wealth meant “enemy”. Them against us. More of his drunken daddy’s “It’s not my fault” closed-minded philosophy on life that had seeped through.
A smile crept onto Johnny’s face. He slid his hand through his curled black hair, it was damp with sweat, and thought how perfect it would be to fuck the sense out of Mrs Sanders. He didn’t know if he wanted to have sex with her because she was sexy, or because she was married to a rich man and it seemed like perfect type of revenge. Do to his wife what his kind have been doing to us for a very long time. Johnny stood, his eyes closed, head tilted back, getting the last of the day’s real sun on his face. Behind his eyelids bright red dots danced on a dark orange sea. The scent of sweat and failing deodorant mixed in his nose, making a cocktail he thought of as Work.
It was a scent he knew, just knew, that Mr Sanders had never and would never experience. Unless Mr Sanders could smell Johnny on his wife.
Johnny sat in the driver’s seat with the engine running. To the best of his knowledge (and on this subject his knowledge was vast) there was nothing wrong. He put the pretty-fucking-expensive car in gear and drove it around the block once, just to test everything out. There was nothing wrong with this fine-but-flashy automobile. He pulled the car back onto the forecourt of the garage, killed the engine, and just sat there, feeling the wheel in his hands. It was the strange purple of dusk, there was no one else about, and Johnny closed his eyes and, if he inhaled deeply enough, he could smell the faint lingering aroma of Mrs Sanders’s expensive perfume.
The dream came to him then, of Mrs Sanders coming into the garage, just the two of them, alone, here in the heat. She’d walk over to him, popping her hips out in that way she only did when she knew he was watching her. She’d stroke her hands gently down his body, feeling her way confidently to his crotch, pulling down the zip on his overalls that still had the upper half tied around his waist by the sleeves…
He woke with a jump, startled. Johnny hated drifting off like that, even if it only was for a few moments. He slapped his face to wake up properly, and without knowing why (or questioning why) he opened the glove box. His mind raced. He wanted to find a pair of black lace panties, or a matching bra, or Polaroids Mrs Sanders took and left in there for him to find. All he found was a manual for the car and a silk handkerchief that smelled strongly of the perfume Mrs Sanders always wore when she came by. Johnny picked it up and held it, not sure if he’d ever felt something quite so delicate and soft before. He lifted it to his face and let her scent fill him, it triggered his memories of her, it triggered his imagination of her. It triggered an erection over her.
Johnny climbed into the back seat, unzipped his overalls, held the handkerchief to his face with one hand and himself in the other, closed his eyes and fantasised about her.
They’d parked up on top of Quarry Road, by the picnic spot that overlooked the deep reservoir that had once been a quarry, but now was filled with green water. An “estimated” three people a year drowned there.”Estimated” because the police figured at least one person died there every twelve years that never got reported. Put up all the signs you like, the moment you get a large body of water away from a residential area, drunken and high - not to mention horny - teenagers are going to want to jump in.
Johnny and Veronica were in the back seat of her car, her long summer dress pulled up high, revealing the tops of her white stockings. She wasn’t wearing any panties. The top of her dress was unbuttoned revealing a red lace bra, her visible nipples like hard pebbles beneath the fabric. She was straddling him, grinding down on his erect cock, taking shallow breaths and whispering in his ear how much she loved it, how much she loved his size, how much she loved him. Veronica’s ruby red lips kissed his ear, then her teeth, sharp and solid, bit into the sensitive flesh. Johnny liked it.
Veronica kept bouncing, kept telling Johnny that he was a real man, that Mr Sanders had never been able to please her like this. Johnny held Veronica’s hips as they swayed back and forth, back and forth as she continued to grind down on him. He leant forward and sucked on her erect nipples through the lace of her bra, Veronica rocking her head back, exposing the full length of her graceful neck. Johnny pumped-up to meet her, they worked together in perfect harmony, smashing into each other, faster and harder and faster still, both being over-come by an orgasmic surge.
Both Johnny and Veronica climaxed together.
Johnny opened his eyes and found himself back on the forecourt of the garage. His knees were hurting from the odd angle he’d had his legs, and the silk kerchief had a Rorschach pattern of sweat on the side pushed against his face and oil smudges on the side in contact with his hands. He looked around, and took his old, tattered rag from the back pocket to mop up the mess he’d made before it stained the seat. He put the silk handkerchief in his side pocket. There was no point in putting it back in the glove compartment in its current state. He had no idea how you were supposed to wash silk.
Since the garage was already locked up, Johnny started the car and backed it out onto the road, and turned towards Canyon Road. He was going to take the car back to Mrs Sanders, and while he was there, he might just live out a fantasy or two. Wouldn’t that be a real kicker? Take the rich man’s wife in the rich man’s own bed. Johnny had no real way to know, but he had a feeling the rich man would have satin sheets, cool and smooth and expensive. Johnny had never touched satin. Johnny liked the idea of wrinkling up the rich man’s expensive sheets with the rich man’s wife.
The car cruised like a dream, it gripped the road and ran as smoothly as paradise. There was nothing even remotely wrong with the car, there was nothing anyone could even mistake for being wrong with it. Johnny took his work as a mechanic seriously and didn’t like the idea of someone toying with his time, bringing in cars that don’t need to be seen.
Don’t worry, he thought to himself. I’m sure we’ll think of some way to make her pay.
‘Might make her pay twice if I’m feelin’ good,’ Johnny muttered and looked briefly down at his crotch. He began to think how good it would feel to hold Mrs Sanders against him, to feel the warmth of her naked body against his, to hear her moans and groans for real, to feel her goose-flesh-covered body quiver as she came. Johnny had decided that was what he wanted, that was what she wanted, that was what they both deserved.
A thought popped into his head then, so loud and clear and pure that it may have been coming from the radio. What if the husband was home? A good point. What if Johnny knocked on the door of the mansion and discovered Mr Sanders home?
‘Fuck it,’ Johnny told the part of his brain that had asked the question. ‘I’ll kill him. After I make him watch me eat his wife.’
Canyon Road was a long, smooth grey ribbon that snaked its way out of the city and up into the hills that over-looked the bright lights of Nicollette (not really a city but rather a large town), and part of the coast. The closer to the Sanders Mansion Johnny got the further the temperature dropped, but it was still warm enough to walk home in his short sleeves. If it did get colder, he’d pull the top half of the blue overalls up. Johnny had it figured out.
Why the hell am I thinking about? he thought. If he were truly going to go through with this, then walking home in the cool night shouldn’t be an issue.
So why is it?
Johnny got to the turning for the Sanders Mansion and found the black gates were wide open. He navigated the car onto the driveway, feeling the difference between the state-laid asphalt and the tarmac of the rich beneath his wheels. The other car they owned was nowhere in sight, meaning that Mr Sanders was not home. The garage door was open though, not wide, just the usual three feet gap that remained unless you forced it down. Whether it was a safety feature or just happened by accident Johnny had no clue, and he figured in an instant that he never would. He knew then, in a flash, that he’d never live any place that had a garage for his car.
He pulled the car up, turned the key, killed the engine.
Then sat, listening to the engine tick over, slowly cooling down. His mind began to play it over; he’d knock on the door, Veronica would open it wearing a flimsy dark green silk robe that stopped way above the knee, showing off a lot of her thigh. He’d walk in, neither saying a word, and she’d have a look of worry on her face and lust in her eye. He’d walk her back to the couch, push her down on it, then kneel before her, slowly kissing up her smooth calf, along her thigh and reaching the promised land.
Sitting in the car Johnny felt his penis begin to twitch and knew time could now become a factor. He took the keys from the ignition and got out of the car. An image occurred to him then, a hazy one, but a good one. It was an image that made Johnny smile. He bounced the car keys lightly in his hand, and casually strolled over to the open garage door. He saw clearly Mr Sanders asking Mrs Sanders what had happened in the garage, why things had been moved around. Surely then he’d know that his beloved wife had been entertaining other men? It was a flawless plan that made perfect sense to Johnny, and his tired, worn mind.
Dropping to his knees, Johnny deftly rolled under the garage door and entered the dark, cool garage. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust, but when his night vision came in, he was puzzled. He saw a large, dark, bulky shape before him, and as the seconds ticked away and his vision cleared, Johnny saw the object was a car. A sports car. A sports car that was not Mr Sanders’s car.
‘What a bitch,’ Johnny whispered. He rolled back outside, the fresh air a welcome change from the petrol and paint fumes of the garage, and the thought for a moment. Johnny craned his neck and looked up at the first floor windows. All the lights were off. The only lights on in the house were in the lounge, but a glance at the white shades and their complete lack of moving silhouettes made it clear that nobody was in there.
Johnny walked up to the front door and raised his hand to knock. He wasn’t going to ring the bell, the bell was too soft, too inviting. He wanted to knock. A knock meant business, it scared people, it jarred them. His hand stroked the smooth wood of the door, and then found the dimpled black iron of the letter box. He pushed the flap and dropped the keys through. He let the flap back slowly, gently, silently.
He began walking down the driveway, and pulled the top half of his overalls up. He wasn’t cold, he just didn’t like the feeling of being so exposed. He got to the iron gates and looked back over his shoulder at the upstairs windows. Still no lights, but he knew there was plenty of movement up there.
Johnny carried on walking home, he was tired and he had to be in work in the morning.