Sunday, January 22, 2017

Auto Electrician

East Kent, 22 January 2017

“Very rare, that is”
declared the auto electrician
savant and physician
of ailing alternators
and lazy starters
as we stood and pondered
this wayward lump
of metal excised
from my old Ford.

“Nothing like it on the shelf.
I’ll recondition your’s”
he grunted, then asked
for my mobile.
“You write it down for me
in case I get it wrong”
(it seemed like we
were not getting along)
“Can’t blame me then.”
I said okay.
“I should have it done
for later on today.”

Greasy, floor-to-ceiling racks
laden with old car parts
teetered from above.
The heavy bench
like druid’s stump
was a palimpsest
of sorts. At my back
the door, glossed black,
with many-stickered
wired glass pane,
let out unceremonious
onto the road.

“You found him then,”
said the garage boys
in oil-stained tracks
“the bad-tempered old arse.”
“Owns that land behind,”
the boss chipped in
slumped against his SUV
“Worth a bloody fortune
I should say.”
I liked him I said
works with his hands
not so many
do that these days.

I took his call
let myself in
afternoon light poured
unmuffled through
dusty windows.
I counted out cash
then he pushed forward
my recon starter.
He held back, didn’t turn
seemed to want
to talk this time.

“Everyone buys new these days.
No-one repairs. See that?”
With great gnarled fingers
he held out an armature
with shaft snapped clean off.
“Chinese,” he said
in level tone
like he was announcing
someone’s passing
it could have been
his own.

“Very rare, that is”
he told me again
of my starter
as if for the first time.
“Might be tricky -
your alternator,”
he said.
“We’ll cross that bridge”
I told him as I stepped out
into dazzling sunshine.
We’d parted
he and I
like friends.


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