“Yo, Eric! Dodge Dart’s back from the paint shop!” Clancy yelled from the garage. “It looks like Barney the Dinosaur jizzed all over it!”
I chuckled. It wasn’t my job to pick paint colors. That was Stan’s business. I did mostly office work now. When we started S & E Classics nineteen years ago Stan and I were flipping cars out of my home garage. My dad had his own shop, so it was all I knew. I had been working on cars since I was old enough to hold a wrench.
“I’ll come check it out in a few!” I called back. I had to leave soon to go check out the auction. There was an old Ford Stan had been eyeballing that was going up.
I took a seat behind my desk and turned on my computer. I had to get the invoices out before I left. I wasn’t sure how I got the desk job, but since it got me home every night to have dinner with my princesses I was fine with it. Stan didn’t have kids so he wasn’t so worried about getting home at a decent hour. I, on the other hand, had a set of twins that were working on making Dad gray way too early.
Madison Paige and Gracie Lynn were a complete surprise to me. Their mother and I had been dating just over a year when she came to me to tell me she was pregnant. At the time I was young and in love. I was terrified, but excited. When we found out we were having two I fainted in the doctor’s office. Not my proudest moment. Aude pointed out that we wouldn’t know the difference between one and two since we started with a set. It was a good point.
Madi popped out two minutes before Grace, both little tiny things with no hair and big blue eyes. They looked like aliens to me. Adorable aliens that I was completely in love with from second one. They lucked out and looked like their mother, but they had my coloring. They were identical both with my long legs, Aude’s pouty lips, and her almond eyes. I knew I was fucked. They were good kids, though. They’d been through a lot for such a young age.
At sixteen they’d already lost their grandma Northman when they were four, which was hard enough. Losing their mother was even worse. We lost Aude in a car accident when they were eight. I had the girls at home with me while she was out with her friends. It had been raining and she lost control going around a corner. She smacked right into a telephone pole. She was in a coma for close to a week before she succumbed to her injuries. It was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through.
The girls had a rough time for a while. They ended up homeschooling with Aude’s mom for the rest of the school year that year. They had good grades and felt good about going back to school the next year. I was glad they had each other. I was a mess for a long time. I was never so bad I couldn’t take care of them, thankfully. My girls were what held me together most of the time. If they had been in the car with Aude that night, and I’d lost them too I was sure I would have ended up in the looney bin.
I got up from the desk to get some coffee from our break room which was where I found Stan. He was smiling at his phone.
“Girlfriend sending you nudes again?” I asked as I moved past him to the coffee pot.
“I wish,” he snorted.
“You’re still seeing Ginger, right?” He’d been seeing her for a few months. She wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box but she was nice and Stan seemed to like her.
“Yeah, I am,” he confirmed. “You check out the Dart yet?”
“No. I was heading out after I refueled,” I answered as I picked up the coffee pot to refill my cup. It was a ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ mug Gracie made me when she was eleven. She actually came in to work at the shop a couple days a week. She was my tomboy.
“I’m not too sure about that color. I thought it would be a little lighter than it is.”
“Clancy said it looks like it’s covered in Barney jizz,” I chuckled. “I’m intrigued.”
“Fucking Chow and his flames… They’re magenta.”
“Magenta?” I had to see that.
“I really hope that’s what his customer wanted. His builds always make me nervous,” Stan admitted.
“We haven’t gotten any complaints or returns,” I shrugged. Chow was different, but the customers loved him.
“Yeah, they’d love the return policy. Does flipping the bird count?”
I laughed and said, “Depends on who’s doing the flipping.” I was the face of the business for a reason. I knew how to work with people way better than anyone else in the shop did. I could also sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves.
“You watch the news this morning?”
“Nah, what’s new?”
“They did a segment with Tits McGee at her restaurant.”
“Huh, is she switching over?” I was sure she was a much better cook than a car flipper. Some of the shit that came out of her shop was just… no. I was sure she was a nice woman, and she was very nice to look at. She’d been in business long enough to tell me she knew what she was doing when it came to cars. Her snakey little ass also got a few cars I wanted to get my hands on. I had to be quick to get in before her. I was sure she had an inside track on that shit.
“No, she’s expanding the empire. You know she owns that Soup’s On place?”
The girls’ new favorite fucking hangout.
“I should ban the girls from going. Madi can’t get enough of that shit,” I sighed.
“For real? The food looked good that I saw this morning. Think she’d shit a brick if we went in there to check it out?” Stan asked.
“We probably aren’t allowed in,” I chuckled. “I’m sure there’s a ‘don’t let these two fuckers in’ sign behind the counter.” Sookie Stackhouse and I had a minor rivalry…
“Could be. There’s only one way to find out. She might be a pain in the ass, but I have to admit she’s pretty fuckin’ smart. She sells shop merchandise at the restaurant,” he said.
“That explains why the girls won’t let me go with them,” I chuckled. “They’re eating with the enemy.”
Stan shook his head. “Little traitors.”
“They’re lucky I love ‘em,” I sighed. “Which reminds me, have you heard anything about the Challenger?” It was a birthday gift to the girls; they were going to be seventeen in four months. They were inseparable so sharing a car was more convenient. I’d purchased a ‘72 Challenger that I was flipping for them. It was coming in from Nebraska and should have been showing up any day.
“Last I heard the Challenger was on the flatbed on its way here.”
“Alright. I’ll call in the morning if I don’t hear anything by then,” I said.
Stan and I left the break room so I could go check out the Dart. I stopped in my tracks when I saw it. Oh my fucking God that was… clean but fucking ugly. I sure hoped the customers were happy with Chow’s decision. I didn’t want to have to pay to get it repainted. I had more important things to spend my money on, like building my business.
“What do you think?” I asked Stan as we circled the Ford. The body was straight. It looked like it was rusted to shit, but upon closer inspection it was salvageable. It wasn’t rusted all the way through. Even if it was Clancy’s body work was a work of art.
“Looks pretty sweet to me,” he said.
I bent over to take a better look at the front panel. I was running my hand over the metal when I heard a girly grunt of annoyance behind me.
Tits McGee. I knew that sound anywhere. We tried to be civil usually. We’d been into some pretty heated arguments over the years. Her husband must have lost his balls decades ago.
“Want it?” I asked Stan. Even if we didn’t want it I was going to try to get it just to spite her.
“It’d be a good buy. We could definitely knock it out of the park,” Stan replied.
Tits McGee snickered again behind us.
“What’d I tell you, Tray?”
“I’m not really surprised,” Tray said. He was a good mechanic, I’d give him that. He was a fool working for her. He could have done way better on his own, I was sure of it.
“Late to the party again, huh?” I smirked.
“Actually, we were just finishing up the paperwork on a ‘56 Ford F100,” she answered. “We actually do more than one car at a time over at our place.”
“Quality over quantity, Miss Stackhouse,” I said. We had seven cars in the shop. We didn’t have an issue with multiple cars.
“Yeah, I’ve seen your idea of quality.” She gave me a look like she’d just caught a whiff of a nasty shit, and then moved around me to confer with her partner.
And it was much better than her work. The goblins she had working for her were like little fucking Oompa Loompas that only knew how to do one fucking thing over and over. Must’ve been why she was branching out.
“I think this one’s worth bidding on, but I wouldn’t go above $2500 on it,” Stan said quietly.
“You know the asshole in me wants to outbid whatever she offers, right?” I replied just as quietly.
“Yeah, I know,” he smiled. “Just be careful, she’s crafty enough to bid you up and then leave you holding the bag for ten grand.”
He had a good point. She’d done it to people before. I was lucky she hadn’t done it to me. It wasn’t a very good reputation to have. I’d been in the business longer than her though, plus I was a legacy since I pretty much followed in my dad’s footsteps. He was the kind of guy to keep his friends close but his enemies closer. He didn’t have the kind of rivalry Tits and I had. He often teased that it was because we were hot for each other. I kindly reminded him that was as far from the truth as one could get. Not to mention, we had the rivalry long before I’d lost Aude in the crash.
“I won’t go higher than $3500 if it comes to that,” I said, glancing over at Sookie and Tray.
“Good man.” Stan patted my shoulder.
Sookie pulled her phone out of her back pocket and stepped away to answer whoever was calling her.
I was getting ready to reply to Stan when my own phone rang. It was Madi’s ringtone.
“Hey, Mads,” I answered on the second ring. I always answered calls from my girls.
She wanted something. She only called me Daddy if she wanted something. The girls knew how to play me, and I was usually a sucker for it.
“Hi,” I replied. “What’s up?”
“Are you going to be home for dinner tonight?”
“I was planning on it. I’m looking at a car right now, though, so I’m not sure. Why?”
“Well, um, I have a date with my boyfr–”
“With your what?” I growled. Aude and I had discussed allowing them to date at sixteen. That didn’t mean I was ready for it to happen.
“Boyfriend. You know, my sweetheart, my steady, my lover–”
“You’re sixteen. You aren’t old enough for a lover. How long has have you been dating this boy?” Stan’s eyebrows shot into his hairline.
Madi giggled and said, “Calm down, Daddy. I’ve been seeing him for five months now.”
“Why am I just now hearing about him?” And why hadn’t Gracie said anything to me about this little shit?
“Because you’re a psycho when it comes to boys.”
“You girls are my everything, of course I’m going to get a little nuts when I find out you’re interested in someone. I want to meet this boy.” I was only being sane because I was in mixed company and I knew their mother would have been shushing me if I said anything too bad.
“Um, before your date with him tonight,” I corrected. “I’m not going to be psycho; I want to meet this little… this boy. I need to make sure he’s good enough for my princess.”
“Okay, but Daddy you don’t think the freaking prince of England is good enough for me,” she pointed out. “You better be nice because I love him.”
I stopped myself from reminding her that she was too young to know real love. I’d been her age once, so I got it. I didn’t like it, but I got it.
“The prince of England isn’t good enough for you,” I agreed. “I’ll be nice. I’m sure if I’m not your mother will start knocking all my shit off the hangers to piss me off,” I chuckled. I was partly serious. If had happened before. I tried telling myself it was Thor, my five-year-old pit, but he wasn’t big enough at the time. Anytime I did something with the girls she wouldn’t have agreed with strange shit started happening.
“I’d like it better if she’d pop you one upside the head like Nana does.”
“I’m sure Nana will come after me if you tell her I was a shit,” I chuckled.
“He’s picking me up at 5:30,” she told me.
“What’s his name?”
“Where is he taking you?”
“I don’t know. It’s a surprise.”
I was going to grill Gracie about Joshua later.
“I’ll be home at five. Do you know if he’s taking you to eat or are you having dinner with your sister and me?” I could miss out on the Ford to meet Madi’s… boyfriend. I didn’t like the way that sounded.
“Yes, he’s taking me out,” she said. “He has a job, Daddy, and a truck. You’d approve of it. It’s a classic.”
“Did he build it?” I built my first car from the ground up. It was a ‘65 Shelby. I still had it at the house, but I didn’t drive it anymore. I outgrew it when I grew over six feet tall. I was pushing 6’5”.
“I don’t know, Daddy. You know I don’t know anything other than if a car is cute. It’s got a nice backseat though.”
Stan’s eyes went wide again when he saw the steam coming out of my ears…
“What do you know about the backseat of anything?” I said in a quiet growl. Stan put his hand on my back to push me out of the area.
“Calm down, Padre, he drives a truck,” she giggled.
A truck… she said that. Calm down, Eric…
“Are you trying to give your old man and heart attack?”
“Just tryin’ to fill in a little salt to go with the pepper.”
“You are your mother’s daughter,” I sighed, shaking my head. She thought it was funny to get me all riled up. Aude was the same way. Gracie was more like me. “Alright, princess, I better let you go before my head explodes. I’ll see you in a bit.”
“Love you Dad,” she said.
“Love you too, sweetheart.” I hung up the phone and looked at Stan. “Madi has had a boyfriend for the last five months. I’m meeting him tonight.”
“Five months? Damn. You must be slipping if you didn’t know before this,” Stan said. “We also need to get over to the auction area. This car is up after the next one.”
As we started to walk over I replied, “I should have known. She’s just as sneaky as I was at that age. She made me promise not to be a psycho.”
“She’s mine,” I shrugged.
Stan and I made it to the auction area. When the bidding started I was so lost in thought worrying about Madison’s boyfriend I ended up losing the car to Tits. I was a little pissed, especially when she gave me that sexy little smirk. I really didn’t like that woman. She was pretty, and obviously smart, but she was the kind to rub it in your face when she won. It was extremely unbecoming. I didn’t have time to worry about her, though. I had to focus on Madi and what the fuck she was going to be doing with Joshua. Little turd.