Money Talks

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by Christopher Davis

  Money Talks

  Copyright 2017 by Christopher Davis

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  Disclaimer: The persons, places, things, and otherwise animate or inanimate objects mentioned in this story are figments of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to anything or anyone living (or dead) is unintentional. The author humbly begs your pardon. This is fiction, people.

  Money Talks

  Seventeen grand in cash should have been the first sign. I don’t know why I didn’t see it. Maybe I just didn’t want to? Maybe it was the desperate need that I had for the money right then with the old lady out of work and all?

  These guys weren’t bad guys as far as I could tell. Not the first night anyway, the night that we met in my shop downtown.

  The one guy spoke English real well, said that his name was Miguel. He did most of the talking for the both of them, introduced his pal as Jose. This guy Jose, he seemed to be the money man as far as I could tell.

  Said they were looking for a hot car and I had a couple of those lying around. I think they had taken a liking to my old Coronet.

  “Sorry boys,” I told them, “this ones not for sale.”

  I was lying my ass off. With me, everything is for sale if you got enough cold hard cash. It had to be after the phone company let the wife go. I worked dayshift for the airline and had my own place where you could find me at night. I’d always turned wrenches in my spare time for a little money and word started getting around. About ten years ago I outgrew the garage and moved downtown just to have a little room to work. Having my own shop gave a new meaning to working nine to five. Moonlighting I guess they call it?

  The money was good though. Brakes and tune ups made up most of my work, just little shit mostly. But it paid the rent and kept the lights on. I must have been the only guy in town who could tune a carburetor anymore? It seemed like I got my hands on every old car in the county.

  Every now and then, I’d get some guy asking if I wanted to overhaul a 396 or a small block Ford. That’s what kept me in it really, wrenching up a fire breather for a kid with daddy’s checkbook in his back pocket. That was real money.

  I wiped the grease off my hands. I’d been the last couple of nights under the hood of a cherry red Super Sport. Kid had blown it up racing out behind the fairgrounds with no oil in it.

  These two had a peek in a ’63 Belvedere I had in the corner. I didn’t figure they were much in the market to build a quarter mile rocket.

  “What about this one?” This guy Miguel asked, pointing at a ’66 Lincoln that crowded in next to the old Plymouth at the back of the shop. I hadn’t looked at the old car in a couple of years really. My buddy’s kid had owed me some money and traded it to settle up his debt.

  The old car was dumped and had nice wheels, but the body and interior were rough as fuck. Three different colors of primer and two years’ worth of accumulated dust finished it all off in that dark corner.

  “Is this one as fast as it looks?” The other guy—Jose—asked. They were both stoked opening and closing the suicide doors and not noticing the cloud of dust they were stirring just then.

  I laughed out loud. The kid who had settled his debt was into me for close to a grand. I answered the questions in order.

  “Like it sits?” I asked, looking to the guy with a better grasp of English, “I’ll let you have it for two grand, but I can tell you that you don’t want this car, mister.”

  “Why is that?” he asked closing one of the back doors.

  “Look at it dude,” I said smiling. “The interior is bombed out and the body is rough as fuck, guys.” I thought about what I’d just said. It wasn’t like me to talk a guy out of buying a car, especially one in my shop? “It’s got a big 462,” I added, “but this old gal is heavy. Fuck man, she might even be bullet-proof?”

  These two dudes look at each other and smile under a pair of naked fluorescent tubes.

  “How much then,” he asked. “To make this one good?”

  Man, I just shot from the hip with the first number that came to mind. “Look man,” I said. “If we overhaul the motor and go through the tranny, brakes, tires, interior and paint?” I paused thinking it over, “Thirty grand, maybe a little more?”

  These two chat back and forth for a moment. I can’t understand shit that they’re saying, but it sounds kind of heated. I’m glad that I keep a loaded 1911 in the top drawer of my box and I’m kind of backing in that direction.

  This guy Jose reaches down deep in his front pocket. I must have swallowed a lump the size of California.

  “How long will it take to get this one into running condition?” This guy Miguel asks.

  His buddy pulls out a wad of cash that would choke a fucking horse. I’m not shitting you and he starts counting out hundred dollar bills.

  “Seventeen thousand should be enough for a deposit, no?” Miguel asks, taking the cash from his partner and handing it to me.

  I nodded. Fuck, I couldn’t really speak at just that moment. I’d never seen that much cash in one place and I had surely never taken in that kind of money in my shop.

  “How long will it take?” he asks again.

  “Look guys,” I say, “I’ve got a day job. This shop is just part time for me. If I take the body off the frame and do it right, this thing could take three months maybe more?”

  “We will see you in one month,” he says. “Just to see how you are doing.”

  These dudes left and I sat in the office to think things over. I wasn’t going to get any work done with seventeen grand in hundred dollar bills sitting on the desk. I thought that I’d call Julie and let her know about the windfall, but then I thought better of it.

  It wasn’t like I could spend the money anyway. I’d need the cash to get the job done for these guys. One fucking thing was for sure. If they were paying in cash, I sure as hell wasn’t going to be making a big deposit at the bank. I might get away in not reporting ten grand in income for the shop this year?


  I poured a clean glass full of Makers Mark and penciled out my ideas for the Lincoln. It was already dumped and sat on a set of wide wheels. For this kind of money though, I wanted to do it up right for these guys. I still couldn’t figure their angle, but I’d do my best with this right after I got the El Camino finished and out the shop door.

  The motor would have to come out and be sent to the machine shop down the road, the body would come off. I could tackle the transmission and rear end once that was accomplished. This was going to be a bad one, if I had anything to say about it.

  The coming Monday was Memorial Day and I’d have three days off over the weekend to get started. I managed to talk the boss into making good on some comp time that I had coming and worked in my shop five days straight.

  My place was a mess for the first couple of weeks. It seems that I was constantly sweeping rust and dirt from the middle of the shop floor. After about a month, things were coming around. The frame was painted and back together. I’d overhauled the tranny and the rear end, gone through the brakes, polished up the wheels and mounted new tires.

  One night I hear someone knocking on the shop door late. It must have been well past ten and it wasn’t usual to h
ave company at that late hour. I stuffed my Colt down in the back of my pants and covered it with my T-shirt. I’d already invested most of the money in the project, so it wasn’t like I had much to lose in that way, but you just never knew what to expect. Like I’ve said, this was a hobby for me and the only shop space that I could afford was just across the tracks in a seedy part of town.

  “Hello my friend,” I hear this voice say from the dark when I cracked the door open. It seemed like I recognized the voice.

  “Fuck, Miguel,” I said standing back to let my favorite—cash paying—customers in. “You two just about gave me a heart attack man.”

  We all walked into the office and I took the .45 from my waistband. These two noticed and I somehow think that I earned some new respect from the both of them?

  Jose sat a bottle of top shelf Scotch on the desk and pointed to the glasses on a shelf behind me. I stood up and retrieved three. This guy—Jose—smiles and poured them full. We all raised a glass. As usual, Miguel did most of the talking, but I somehow figured his partner wasn’t as handicapped as he pretended to be?

  “So how is the car?” he asked.

  His partner reaches deep in his pocket. I’m looking at the Colt lying there and hoping for the best. This guy Jose comes up with more fucking cocaine than I’d ever seen in one place. He cuts a few lines

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