. The woman at the counter smiles at me with only a few teeth missing, and says, “hey there beach baby, where you from?”
“California. How’d you know?” I love her.
“Listen, beach baby, how you come all the way from California to Brooklyn?”
“Well, Brooklyn is amazing,” and I do believe this, certainly of this side of Brooklyn.
“Yes, Brooklyn is the best
in the whole wide world. You have a good day, beach baby.” I wanted to bring her with me to the mechanic’s, for I’m sure that if she touched the bus, all ills would be cured. Anyway, the sandwich was pretty good.
The Beard meets us and we get growled at by the main proprietor, but Hugo, the actual mechanic, hops out from under another bus to greet us with a Marlboro obscuring his words almost entirely from our understanding
. His excitement speeds his sentences and he gestures like Keith Richards with his cigarette, more pointed and less staggered, and before he finishes with one suggestion he’s off to the next, landing ultimately on a pile of old air filters – they cleaned ours earlier, as it was supposedly quite clogged – while he urges us to take with us to be used as stools on the road. “I got ten of these in my yard!” Before his giggle’s finished, though, the owner is at our back.
“You going to pay me? Eighty dollars.” I’m pleased with the price but disappointed in his extremely resolved focus on money, as I’m very self-aware of the preconceptions the guys have of Jewish people. Hey, far Hasidic mechanic proprietor: way to propagate bad stereotypes, punk!
We drive it home and it’s feeling alright, but by the time we’re back to the cemetery, she gives out and stalls twice. We call a phone number recommended to us to try to figure it out, and make another appointment for that evening, which is obnoxious. Frustrated and exhausted, we pass out all sweaty in the apartment, of which we’ve long since made a mess. Ultimately even Shmark is awake from his deep hangover and the four of us take the long subway trip to this new garage, which is up near Queens on the border of Brooklyn
. The fellow is waiting there for us a number of hours after closing time and he’s great, a portly bearded young guy named Joey, who cracks jokes and smiles like a mouse. He’s very likeable and excitable, but clearly wants to take care of business, and takes our Pearl for a test drive. He’s very clearly the craziest driver I’ve ever seen, to the point where we’re all laughing with one another and Shmark’s even filming everything. He promises to analyze it and check it out in the morning, but after joking around a bit and discussing what ails our little girl, we close down the shop.
On the way back, The Beard stops before a garage door and smiles. We catch up and find that it’s a tortilla factory, with about five or seven people standing there awkwardly, pressing flour and lime water down, and when we dangle a dollar out in front of them, they hand us a pouch of twenty; they’re still warm and quite delicious. We do get, too, some juice – two apricots and one custard apple – and take the long way back. Shmark and I take the G, Cornbread the N/R, and The Beard decides he’ll go to Spanish Harlem or else just cruise around the subway all night, which he indeed does.
Shmark and I arrive at the same time as Cornbread, and he creeps up behind S, mumbling, “give me all your money,” and it’s quite amusing to see the ever-stoic Shmark nearly piss himself
. We enter the apartment to meet a sleepy Eitan and Jack, one of his Colombia friends that roade Pearl on Sunday. We all take it easy, playing some Beatles, drinking chocolate stout, even meeting Eitan’s roommate that never leaves his room or talks to anyone. The two agree to go out for a beer at the bowling alley to meet our favorite bartender – puffy Larry David – but Leather Woman, who pours us a ten-dollar pitcher, has replaced him tonight, and accordingly, we’re the only ones in the entire place. Jack bids us adieu as his trek is long, back to the Upper West Side, and after Eitan’s off the phone with his muddah, we all meet at a greasy spoon for horchatas and midnight dinner. They get carnitas and chimichangas and tacos, and I get tongue torta and a side of fries, and the supposedly shy waitress is soon making out with the customer in the booth next to us, but the tongue seems great on both sides of the counter and are back to the apartment by an early 1am.
DAY FORTY-SIX: Cornbread has called this city of New York, "a ring of hell," and while I quite like a lot about it, I can't say I disagree. From the accident to the focus of all our engine problems to date, New York City has been a terror to navigate for Cornbread (as expected, I suppose), and I must award him the Yellow Medal of Chool Bus Valor for his unwavering strength from behind the wheel. At that, we spend another day at the mercy of our dear baby girl, who can’t be blamed for any of this as she’s tried her very baby bus hardest to suit our wants and needs. Nevertheless, she spends the night away from her daddies, who really haven’t been intimate with her since they hit this large and tawdry metropolis, and is examined by those Hasidic mechanics. Cornbread and I receive their phone call in the morning and grab the first subway over, and while waiting for The beard to meet us from Jae’s, I stop in a little deli for a roast beef sandwich and soda for $3.50