Part 3 – Trish Chang

It was certainly no barn. It was big, but still looked like it was crammed. There was a big pit in the ground in the middle of the floor, and above it was a well greased car lift. It was in its highest position, and on it stood a rusty, old pickup truck. It was acid green and very dirty. The hood was missing. On either side of the lift were piles of tires, rags and oil cans, and a lot of other cans that I didn’t know. There were tables up against every wall, full of wrenches, screws, nuts, nails and hammers of all kinds and sizes, welding torches, spray cans and paint brushes. Behind the lift was an old wooden stair that lay up to a platform full of more tires.

David thread the way to the back, behind the stair, where there was a big window. It had obviously been put in there not too many years ago. Beneath it was a big and heavy wooden table covered in school books, pens and papers. To the right was a sink, small refrigerator and a coffee machine.

“Coffee?” David asked as he slammed his bag on a chair and started filling the coffee machine with water.

“Eh, sure,” I said distracted, looking at the posters covering all the walls back there. They were all illustrations of different kinds of cars and engines. Some of them were so high up; I could barely read the headings.

“So … you’re a mechanic?” I asked as I sat down in the chair opposite the one David had put his bag on.

“Yes,” David said, busy measuring coffee.

“But … don’t you need to take a test or study it, or something?”

“I’m not a licensed mechanic yet,” he said and sat down. “It’s actually illegal for me to run this place as a business. But it’s not illegal for a friend to ask another friend to help him fix his car, as a favor. They pay me in supplies.”

He took out his book and pen. Then he noticed my look of utter disbelief.

“Don’t tell anybody,” he said and smiled wide.

It was like I was looking at a different person. As he smiled his scar seemed to just smooth out and completely disappear, and he had such white and almost perfect teeth I could hardly believe I had never noticed them before. It was such a happy thing to see I couldn’t help smiling widely back, feeling uplifted.

“Shall we continue?” I asked cheerfully as I took out my own book.

It took us a lot longer to do the assignment than it would have because I kept noticing something that caught my curiosity in that barn and ask him about it, and suddenly he didn’t seem to mind talking. He grinned a few more times and smiled again when I asked him about the swimsuit calendar on the wall that looked like it was thirty years old. He took it off and showed me the picture it was open on. It was Miss August.

“That’s my mother,” he said. I stared at him, and then I stared at the picture. She was very pretty, with dark hair like his and the same perfect teeth. His nose he seemed to have gotten from his father.

“Was she a model?” I asked.

“No, just rebellious. That was the only time she ever did anything like that. She did it to prove to herself she wasn’t her parents pet. I don’t think they ever knew, they would never have bought anything like this, and their friends would never admit to have bought anything like this.”

The sound of a car echoed through the barn. We both looked towards the wide open door. The left front wheel of a very pink car was barely visible. We heard a car door slam shut. David rushed to his feet and hurried to the door. I followed out of pure curiosity.

Not only was it a very pink car, it was a very pink porch. First I thought it might be a client. Then I recognized the girl that stood beside it, wearing a short skirt in the same color as the car. It was Trish Chang, the Trish Chang. The only girl ever to win Young Miss Dale twice. First when she was 14, and again when she was 16. The last time had been about four years ago, so she was 20 now. She was very thin and small in every way, except she was about my height. She had long and smooth platinum blond hair and very green eyes, but otherwise she looked very oriental. Her great grandfather had been Japanese, which was where Chang came from. Beside the skirt she was wearing a white, short-sleeved shirt, with the lower part of it tied together so that we could see her smooth belly and diamond navel ring. She had black, tight and shiny leather boots on that went all the way to her knees and black sunglasses on her head. She looked rather like a 15 year old teenager than a 20 year old woman. She was smiling in a cheek way.

“You’re not welcome here!” David almost shouted at her. I looked startled at him. His jaw was clenched and his knuckles were white. He looked a little pale. He knew her?

“Oh, relax, Little B, I wouldn’t stay here in your little pig-sty for all the diamonds in the world,” she said in an insolent voice as she took a good look at the inside of the barn. “I just came to return some clothes.”

She bent down to the back seat, putting her left foot a little in the air as she did. She pulled out a brown cardboard box and threw it towards David. It landed on its side right at his feet.

“You know he’s not here,” David said, even angrier than before. She almost looked insulted by those words.

“You really think I’m going there?! Ha! No, you can keep them, although I’m not sure they’ll fit you,” she said, sounding amused by her last words. She was looking at David with a look of interest. “You’re a lot bigger.”

I got the feeling I was hearing a private joke that only they understood, but David wasn’t laughing. He kicked the box out of his way and walked towards her. She put her hands in front of her like she was defending herself.

“Little B, don’t you dare touching me with your filthy hands!” she shouted threateningly at him. He seemed to be resisting the urge as he stopped right in front of her. Then he opened the car door.

“Leave,” he simply said. She hesitated, but got in and he slammed the door shut, almost slamming it on her foot. Her eyes shot sparks as she looked at him while starting her car, but then she drove off, almost driving over his toes.

David seemed to be making sure she was actually leaving. He looked after her as long as he could and listened for a few moments afterwards. Then he turned around and strode into the barn. I thought he was going back into the back and was going to follow him, but he grabbed a can of gasoline and a pack of matches and went back to the box. He poured the whole can over it and lit it on fire. I watched this without saying a word.

Suddenly, a fuzzy woman’s voice echoed loudly throughout the barn.

“Dinner, David!”

David stamped on the remainder of the flame to put it out and went to a white box on the wall by the door, right beside where I stood. He pushed a button and spoke into it.

“Coming,” he said. Then he looked at me. “Would you like to eat with us? It’s a long way home for you.”

I hesitated. He looked like he had calmed well enough down, but he had looked rather frightening only seconds ago.

“Sure, if your mother doesn’t mind,” I said quietly. He pushed the button again.

“I’ve got a guest.”

“All right, dear!” boomed the woman’s voice. David took a rag from the floor and dried the gasoline from his hands.

“Promise me something before we go inside,” he said seriously. “Don’t mention who was here, or what happened. Not her, the box, the fire, or even that somebody was here.”

“I promise,” I said surprised. “Can I ask why?”

He sighed.

“My mother’s cried enough,” he simply said as he threw the rag away. “Come on, she’ll start shouting if we don’t go in right away.”

He closed the barn door, and we walked towards the cottage.

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