The Three Halves of Martyn Manning-Chapter Twenty: Paradise By The Dashboard Light? - Part Two
took one step across the threshold then immediately stopped. Apart
from the dull light from the office behind her the place where she
was now standing was completely unlit. She had a sense that she was
in a large space but apart from that she couldn’t make out anything
in the darkness. The smell of oil, petrol and tired engines was
intense but not entirely unpleasant.
going on Billy?”
heard a click and suddenly the room was flooded with harsh industrial
light. There was a few seconds of silence before she spoke.
My Fucking God! That’s beautiful.”
thought you didn’t like cars?”
was stood on a slightly raised platform overlooking what must be the
main workshop of the garage. Three steps to her left led down to the
workshop floor. Against each wall were cluttered benches on which lay
mysterious tools, oily rags and indeterminate lumps of machined
metal. The walls were hung with diagnostic instruments with meters,
dials and trailing wires, barrels of fluids with trailing hoses, and
several air pumps. She was looking out over three cars, each with
their bonnets facing her. To her left she recognised a Jaguar, all
shiny black and chrome. Its bonnet was open and its yellow handled
dipstick lay horizontally on top of the radiator grille. It must have
been in for a service. To her right was a car she didn’t know, a
car, a shabby brown hatchback with faded bodywork and no hubcaps. But
the Jaguar and the hatchback didn’t matter. They were just cars,
who cared? The only one that mattered was the car in the centre. She
was vaguely aware that Billy was speaking to her but she wasn’t
a ‘58 Chevrolet Bel-Air Coupe. It’s got a six litre fucking
engine! Fuel injected V8. Do you like it?”
didn’t answer. She was still trying to grasp the magnificence of
what she was seeing, it was a metal cathedral, no, an ocean liner in
shining Alfa Red, commanding both the room and her gaze, towering
above the hatchback and even the Jag. She saw acres of chrome, the
huge threatening grin of the grille putting her in mind of a shark.
It actually intimidated her. Above the grille, from the front tip of
the hooded headlights to the very rear of the trunk the body raked
distinctly downwards. The windscreen however was the opposite of
raked, sitting proudly up almost vertically from the body, dismissive
and contemptuous of drag and the price of gas. There were pristinely
white-walled tyres of course. And the fins! Don’t forget the bloody
fins! Jesus, it was a rhapsody in ruby, a symphony in scarlet,
although surrounded by filth and detritus it was spotless, a beacon
of hope and of good in the world, a beacon that said “All’s well,
and all will be well.” She’d seen cars like this in “American
Graffiti” and “Grease” but she never really believed they
really existed, or that even if they did they weren’t this grand,
this magnificent, this...this awesome. This time she heard Billy when
can have it if you want.”
do you mean?”
laughed. “He wants sixty grand for it. You’ve got sixty grand
haven’t you? It’s better than your Fiesta.”
right, I’ve got sixty grand lying around.”
at least you can have a look inside. Come on, I’ll show you round.
I might even let you have a sit inside if you’re a good girl.”
winked at her then set off down the steps and Elena followed. At the
car he opened the driver’s door and pulled forward the driver’s
seat then stepped back.
in the back, you’ll get a better view.”
where are you sitting?”
sit in the front and show you all the controls!”
climbed in the back. She pulled the driver’s seat back into
position and Billy slid behind the wheel. He turned the keys and the
engine briefly exploded then settled into a slow, deep, and rhythmic
thrum which Elena thought both powerful and a little menacing. She
sat in the middle of the back seat with her head between the two
front seats and while Billy fiddled with the radio knobs she viewed
her surroundings. She was genuinely fascinated and impressed.
left-hand drive, like in Romania. I love all those white dials. And
all that chrome. And look at the size of that steering wheel! And
look, it’s got handles to open the windows.”
gave up with the radio and switched it off. He half-turned towards
special isn’t it!”
we go for a ride?” Then she caught another whiff of Billy’s
breath. “Oh no, you’re too drunk.”
fine to go for a little drive. There’s no police out here anyway.
We can go for a ride after.”
Billy didn’t answer. Instead, to her surprise he suddenly jumped
out of the car and started to walk away, leaving the engine running.
She shouted after him through the open door.
are you going?”
going to turn the lights off.”
are you turning the lights off?”
want to show you the dashboard lights in the dark.”
spectacular. You’ll love it.”
she thought, but she settled back and tried to relax in the sumptuous
padded leather. Ah what the hell, she could handle Billy.
lights went out and as Billy walked back she admired the display.
He’d been right, it was spectacular, the dashboard and front cabin
was now a maniac vision of yellow and orange, electric blue and neon
purple. What it lost in subtlety it more than gained in garish
dramatic effect. In the back Elena sat bathed in the soft pink glow
from dim concealed downlights. She sat back and smiled to herself.
“Here we go, Billy’s Passion Wagon. Brace yourself girl.”
approached the car and as she feared he pulled back the driver’s
seat and jumped in the back beside her.
back here innit? Loadsa room. You could get up to all sorts back
have you got in the back?”
these lights aren’t just for you you know! I want to look at them
stretched forward and pulled the driver’s side door closed then
slid the driver’s seat back into position.
I told you, isn’t that great?”
fantastic, it really is. Like you said, spectacular. Thanks for
showing me. But I’ve seen it now so come on, we’re missing the
settled back into the upholstery.
your jets. There’s no rush. Relax! We’re not missing anything
down the pub. You won’t get many chances to sit in a car like this.
Enjoy it. Let’s have a chat and just enjoy the scenery for a
you said there’d be a party at the pub. You said it would be fun.”
will be but it probably won’t have got going yet. Don’t worry,
we’ve got plenty of time.”
rather go to the pub.”
was a brief silence in which Elena considered possible escape routes
but it was a coupe, there weren’t any rear doors, she was trapped.
She was just going to have to tough this one out. Billy spoke.
tell me about yourself. How are you settling in? How do you like
working for Smart Mart?”
a good guy, I like working for him.” (Ha! If only you knew.) “And
I like the village and the people. Yeah, I’m settling in nicely
shifted his seat so he was looking more directly at Elena.
that’s good, but tell me more about you.”
do you want to know?”
for a start, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like
not? There’s not a lot of work in Romania and if you can find a job
it doesn’t pay very well. A lot of Romanians want to come to
England. We learn English in school and we like to speak it.” As
she spoke she furtively felt around for the door handle, just in
case, hoping Billy wouldn’t notice, then she again remembered it
was a two-door, there wasn’t a door handle.
God, you really do have the sexiest accent. Go on, keep talking. I
love it.” He looked like he was going to say something else but
don’t know what to say. And I don’t have a sexy accent. You only
think it’s sexy because to you it’s unusual, unfamiliar.”
He said it slowly, stressing every syllable. “Sexy. What’s that
word for when you know a lot of words. Vocab something. Vocably.”
it. There you go. Vocabulary. You speak English better than me,
except for the sexy accent.”
you but I don’t think I do. I may be OK technically but I still
have a lot to learn about slang and idiom. You English have a lot of
slang and idiom.”
that’s what I mean, I don’t even know what idiom means?”
just means like slang.”
why didn’t you just say slang? I’m good at slang. Let me test you
on slang. Let me think.”
the car the only light came from the doorway through which they’d
come. At least if she could get out of the car she could find her way
out of the workshop. But it might not come to that.
got one. Do you know what ‘the dog’s bollocks’ means?”
I know that, Martyn says it all the time.”
does it mean then?”
means like really good, something you really like.”
shifted again, moving just a little closer.
done. I knew you were clever. How about ‘one-eyed trouser snake’?”
trouser snake? No I don’t know that, but it sounds like it might be
depends what you mean by rude. Everybody says it. Go on, have a
thought for a moment.
I presume it might be something to do with a man’s penis.”
that’s it! It’s a cock. Get it? It’s like a snake and it’s
got one eye and it’s in your trousers. You’re good at this. I bet
you don’t know what a Prince Albert is.”
I don’t know.” She paused before adding “And I’m not sure I
want to know.”
I’ll tell you anyway. You want to learn english don’t you?”
on then, but if it’s rude I’m really not interested.”
a cock piercing. Like piercing your ears or your nose but its through
Elena had heard about these piercings but she didn’t know they were
called Prince Alberts. She had to admit she was intrigued. She knew
she was going to regret this but her curiosity overcame her. She just
couldn’t help herself.
Right through the end? Through the glans? How can that even be
it is. Then they put like a bar or a ring through it, like when you
have a nipple piercing.” His eyes moved down to Elena’s breasts.
that must hurt like hell? It was bad enough when I had my ears done.”
hurts like fuck. But then some women get their clits done, that must
do you know?”
seen it on telly. On one of those medical nightmare programmes. There
was this one young girl who went all septic and was oozing pus
I mean how do you know a Prince Albert hurts like hell.” But as
soon as she said it she kicked herself. She already knew the answer.
“Don’t tell me, you’ve got one.”
the fuck? Why on earth would you put yourself through that?”
ladies love it. It enhances the pleasure, drives them wild, it makes
them come like trains. Look, I’ll show you.”
Elena’s horror she saw Billy’s hand go to the tongue of his belt
and jerk to release the buckle. He’d already undone his jeans and
was fumbling to unzip his fly before she managed to shriek.
the matter? Haven’t you ever seen a cock before?”
off. I’ve had enough of this. Just fuck off and let me out. How the
fuck do you get out of this fucking car?” She began scrabbling at
the side of the seat in front searching for the release catch.
OK, suit yourself. It’s only a fucking cock for God’s sake. Your
loss, we could have had some fun.” He began to fasten his jeans and
belt. His voice hardened. “What’s the matter with you anyway? Are
you a lesbian or something? Jesus, remind me not to go to Romania if
they’re all lesbians.”
let me out of the car.”
thought you wanted to go for a drive?”
I know you’re fucking joking.”
come on, don’t be like that. I was only messing about. I didn’t
mean it about you being a lesbian.” She felt his hand on her thigh
and then a soft squeeze, his voice softer now. “Come on, let’s go
for a drive.”
took his hand firmly by the wrist and moved it away.
let me out of the car. I want to go home.”
felt for the catch and pushed forward the driver’s seat, opened the
door and climbed out. Elena followed then without a word marched
purposefully towards the steps and the workshop door. He had to jog
to catch up with her in reception.
go to the pub then, it should have got going by now.”
not in the mood.”
me walk you home then.”
OK, I’ll be fine.”
closed the reception door behind her and strode off into the night.
Elena didn’t go to the pub. But Billy did. After a couple more
pints he started telling anybody who’d listen that he’d just
shagged Smart Mart’s nanny in the back of that ‘58 Chevvy in his
workshop and that she’d bloody loved it. And some people even