21 October, 2009

Rusted Out Minotaurs and Other Mythological Creatures: Part 1 of 7

“It ain't a hard job,” Bear McGee said to me through his cigarette. “All you’re doing is taking things apart and organizing them into piles.”

Looking around the piles of old lawn mowers, motorcycles, and bicycles, it was difficult to know where to begin. None of the piles were tall – but they covered a lot of territory. Bear McGee’s Motor Graveyard took up every bit of three acres, right next to Highway 67 about ten miles from town in either direction. He’d been in the same location for more than 20 years and lived in a small trailer on the same property. Bear was a tall, intimidating guy who lived up to his nickname in appearance and demeanor. All he ever wore was a pair of faded blue jeans, worn out steel-toed engineer boots, and a black leather vest, t-shirt optional. His beard was as long and knarly and black as his hair. Rumor was that Bear McGee used to ride with a motorcycle gang. I never heard him deny the rumor; but I never really saw him ride a motorcycle, either. He owned eight or nine of them – but none of them ran. Each one of them were either missing a part, or needed some small bit of repair. He used to tell me he didn’t want to work on motorcycles anymore; that it was easier to just pay somebody else to do it. Then he’d tell me in the same breath that all mechanics were crooks and they just wanted to rob him.

“So Kid, you want the job or not?”

I looked around. I needed the job, even if it didn’t pay that much. Bear never brought up money, and neither did I. He was good friends with my girlfriend April’s dad – who, oddly enough, acted like he liked me – so I figured it would all work out. It was the summer after my senior year of high school; in a couple more months I’d be off to college and free of the small town whose borders seemed to close in a little more every day. I had just quit my last job – my second job ever – as a grocery store stock boy because the manager Alice, an aging bar cooz with topographic face and tits as saggy as her jowls, kept trying to corner me in the back room. I couldn’t see myself working at McDonalds, wearing that ugly ass uniform and trying not to spit on people’s food in between cleaning up kiddie puke in the restroom. No thanks. At least at Bear’s I could wear what I want, smoke if I felt like it, and I didn’t have to worry about how I looked. I told him I’d take the job.

He grunted his approval. “Start tomorrow,” he said. “Bring your own tools.”

Later that evening when I saw April, she tried to warn me about him. “He’s creepy,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

She shook her head. “It’s just the way he looks, and… the last time I was there I caught him … STARING at me… you know?” She shivered. “It was just creepy.”

“You weren’t wearing the red tank top were you?” I asked. I liked it when she wore the red tank top.

She slapped me hard on the arm. “You’re disgusting,” she said. Then she kissed me. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”