A short story.
The man in the red coat had insisted on the carwash, half-off. “It’s my family business. Drop it off tonight, pick it up in the morning.”
I accepted, though it was my careless elbow that knocked his coffee cup onto my new car.
Now I stood in the empty lot of what used to be Chort’s Suds—the building boarded up and the signs taken down overnight—blinking in shock.
They hadn’t waxed and polished my car—they’d waxed and Polished it.
The sleek Nuova 500 had been transformed into a hideous Polski Fiat, elegant curves pounded square, pillars connecting roof and quarter panels at the hard angles of the Communist regime.
“We’ll get her in shape,” the man had said. I’d nodded and signed the discounted estimate. The pen’s red ink stank of gear oil.
I snatched the copy from the wiper on the front windshield, scanning each capital letter, wincing at my initials ticking the box marked Interior Detailing.
“My wife does that,” he’d said proudly. “She’ll take care of you.”
Embroidered felt covered my car seats, folk-art roses and roosters handstitched on black wool. I’d seen those same designs yesterday morning, on the skirt of the woman who shook her fist when I clipped the corner too fast on Gooseberry Street. My stereo had drowned out her curses.
I slid behind the wheel. A spiced babka air freshener swung from the rearview.
The radio blared as the engine turned. I frantically pressed the buttons, but every station played a Chopin mazurka.
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