Kinkaid’s garage was a true man’s paradise. It had posters of bikini-clad girls posing with muscle cars, neon beer signs, a fully stocked refrigerator, shelves, tools and work tables on every wall. It stood to reason that it would be so well organized and stocked with these kinds of things. The guy practically lived out there.
Having been divorced four times, Kinkaid had long ago vowed to never marry again. Occasionally he would bring home some young leggy blond or perhaps a buxom redhead but mostly cars were his only love. He seemed to bring a new one into the garage every three or four months. There would toil for hours underneath them until he’d made them growl and purr to his liking.
The Camero had been delivered at the beginning of summer. It had been a rusted out ’69 with bad struts and bald tires when he’d waved it down his driveway just as the days were starting to grow long. No one had seen it again after that day until tonight.
Markoff sipped his beer admiring the vehicle. The black metallic paint gleamed in the light of the fluorescent bulbs which hung above it. The tires had been replaced with racing mags and the rear end had been lifted at least three inches. The ball of the gearshift was now a silver skull. From the sound system, Nirvana thumped in tones as heavy and full as the orchestra that he’d heard tonight.
“This…” The builder said, pointing at the car with his cigar. “is a true work of art.”
Kinkaid reached in and lowered the stereo. “I can rattle windows with this thing.” He said proudly. “We could wake the whole town up with rock and roll if we wanted to tonight.”
“How fast do you think she’ll go?”
“I don’t know.” The man said scratching at his unruly hair. “I upped the oxygen intake on the manifold so I’d guess it’d top out at about 160, maybe 170.”
Grey ducked his head to look inside. “I still think that the red leather seats were a mistake,” He said. “especially with that chain link steering wheel.”
“Shut up, queer.” The older man said hitching up his shorts and strutting over to the ice box to grab another beer.
Biggs nodded his head along to the muted sound of the stereo. “Jack?” He said looking at Markoff over the hood. “How much did you clear with that performance hall?”
“Profit?” The builder asked.
“Well, I made 5 million on it but just about all of that went into paying down debt on other projects that I’ve got going up around town.”
Kinkaid popped open his beer. “I hate that damned Arab temple looking place that you’re building on exit 14.”
“The Taj Mahal?” Markoff asked.
“Whatever. It’s a strip mall and it looks like some dumb Mosque or something. Tear that crap down.”
“They’re trying to go for something exotic.”
“It looks like a place for terrorist.”
“They’re going to have spice scents piped into the courtyard.” The builder explained. “They want that Middle Eastern market kind of look. They think it’ll draw in shoppers.”
Biggs took a sip from his beer. “Did you buy yourself anything at all with the money that the city gave you?”
“I got a TV that I never get to watch.” Markoff smiled. “I keep looking for a boat but everyone that I like is out of my price range.”
“So says the man building the Palace of Ali Baba.” Kinkaid shot back. He pointed at the builder over the mouth of his beer can. “We should come up to your place next weekend when NASA blows the hell out of that asteroid.”
“Does that worry anyone?” Biggs asked.
Grey snorted. “NASA worries me.” He spat bitterly. “They’re all a bunch of morons.”
“Good point.” Markoff said nodding in the direction of Kinkaid. “We could kick the kids out of the theater room and watch that sucker get blown to bits on my new 150 inch plasma. Maybe we’ll have a cookout or something.”
“Screw a cook out!” The man shot back. “It’s too damned hot for a cook out. Just order Mexican food or something.”
Biggs was still concerned. “Seriously guys, I’m losing sleep over this asteroid.”
Kinkaid turned to him with a dubious look. “Quit being such a damned sissy.” He smiled. “NASA’s going to blow the damned thing up and it’s going to look awesome on that new TV of Markoff’s.”
“Maybe so.” Biggs replied sheepishly. Then turning to the builder he asked, “How much is that Taj Mahal shopping center going to cost you?”
“Three-million.” Markoff answered.
“How much do you expect to clear?”
The builder shrugged. “I don’t know yet. It’s going over budget with all of the rain delays that we’ve had. I’m probably going to break even. Why are you so concerned about my finances?”
Biggs looked down at his beer. “Jesus, I’m sorry.” He said.
“The thing is,” Markoff continued. “I’m sort of praying that we get a hurricane up from the gulf this season so that I can get some insurance money out of it. Just about everything that I’ve got working right now is either behind or in the red.”
“My company is in the red.” The programmer said sadly. “It stays in the red.”
Kinkaid smiled. “This here car cost me ten-thousand dollars to bring it in off the street and I put twenty-thousand into it. Now I’ve got a guy who wants to buy it from me for eighty.”
Markoff hoisted his beer towards the man. “Score!” He said.
“Who?” Biggs asked.
Kinkaid shook his head. “I don’t know. Some guy who works for NASA. Probably some kind of egg-head jack-off. He wrote me an email and said that he wanted to come out and look at it next week Sunday. That’s how I know where he works.”
“Maybe he knows about the asteroid.”
“Maybe you need to shut the hell up about that.”
Grey sighed. “They don’t pay the nerds enough money to buy a car that expensive. He’s probably some kind of director or something. Either way he’s completely clueless or he wouldn’t be working for NASA.”
Biggs looked up smiling. “How much did your factory make last year?”
Kinkaid stepped around the car. “Quit asking people that kind of crap.” He said punching the man hard on the shoulder.
“Sorry.” Biggs said, rubbing the spot.
The builder cleared his throat. “Anyone know when Dan and Clara are going to be back from their cruise?”
“Should be back this weekend.” Kinkaid answered. Grinning he made another swiping gesture at the programmer just to watch him flinch.
“We should invite them too.”
Grey looked at his beer before tossing it into a nearby trashcan. “I hate that woman.” He said. “I don’t like Dan either but I really hate her.”
“She’s okay.” The builder said. “Her and Myrah get along great together and their kids are on the schools soccer team with my son.”
Biggs took a step away from Kinkaid... “I like Dan.” He said going around to the back of the car and pretending to admire the wheels. “He’s good at fishing.”
“Trust me he’ll be the first person that I invite on my boat when and if I ever do get it.” Markoff laughed. “He caught a 130 pound swordfish the last time that they went out on a cruise; I wonder what he’ll come back with now?”
“Probably some big ugly sucker like his wife.” Kinkaid joked. Then turning serious he pointed across the hood of the car in the direction of the builder. “What’s this first person crap? You’d better bring me out on that boat too you gay-wad.”
“Me too.” Said Biggs.
“Me too.” Said Grey.
Markoff smiled. “Who wants to bring the beer?” He asked.