Insert Chassis Albuquerque: Chapter 8 - "Honest Al's"

Chapter 8 - "Honest Al's"

Honest Al's Your Pal Auto Lot.
"Al around?" I asked.
"Who…?" the salesman said.
I walked around the lot, the salesman followed.
"How much?" I said, circling a car tagged$16,000.
"For you – uh, $9,000," the salesman said, sizing me up.
“Lada Nova, huh? What can you tell me about it?”
“I can tell you if you’re interested in obsolete, heavily mechanized machinery for a car, this is your lucky day,” the salesman said.
"What's the mileage?"
"It's Russian, you know, Communist? Them commies don’t use mileage."
“What they use then?”
“Corporal punishment, gas, death penalty – you ask a lotta questions, pal, you with the cops?” he asked.
"What year’s it?"
The salesman looked confused.
"What you mean?" he asked.
I guess the Russians hadn't used years either - my father always claimed he thought Communists were lazy. I’d never actually seen one, not in real life, talking and walking, in command of all their senses and communist faculties. Most of what I’d known about communists I’d gleaned from literature. And what my mother and father had told me, largely anecdotal. And seen as both of them are out and out liars a communist might as well have been a million dollars to me.
I kicked the tyres.
The car had an electronic window, just the one, on the driver's passenger side.
None of the others worked.
But both side-view mirrors were electronic, too, and worked.
"Where's the exhaust…?" I asked, looking under the car.
"Whoa! Isn't it there?" the salesman said, surprised. He turned round and yelled: "Hey, Dumbass! You seen the exhaust for that red, rust-treated, junk yard Russian Lada Nova?"
Dumbass shouted back: "What…?"
"Lada Nova! That Russian built 7 seater!"
"Never heard of it," Dumbass said.
"I'll give you $1,500. And the exhaust," I said.
"That's extra, pal," the salesman said.
"Top up the gas and replace all the tyres, too - $1,500."
"That is a very tall order to fulfill, maybe the tallest I've ever seen!" the salesman said, scratching his neck thoughtfully.
I stick to my guns, brandishing them in the air for all to see.
“$1,500,” I said.
“$1,500? Okay, okay. All in, let’s call it $1,900 – deal…?” he said and extended his hand.
“All in, $1,500.”
He shook his head.
“Look, I’ve already come down from $16,000 - you gotta have a little flexibility…!”
“$1,500,” I repeated.
“$1,500? Jesus! You’re killing me! You’re killing me! What’s Al gonna say!” Still, he thought about it some and then said: “$1,800 and we there – exhaust, tyres and gas, what you say? Come on, be a pal - you’re stealing from my children!”
At exactly that moment Dumbass wandered over brandishing the missing exhaust.
“Hey Al! I think I found the exhaust for that shit-heap?” Dumbass said.
Al said : “$1,500 - sold! Okay, fella, you got yourself a deal! Talk about driving a hard bargain…" and handed me the exhaust.
So now I'm driving around town in the rain in a Russian-made family car for 7 from 1983 like I'm some kind of Mafioso big deal. Shimansky had a $750,000 Ferrari sports car sprayed bright yellow with a black, off-center racing stripe down the length of it and one of those stupid bumper stickers on the back that said: MY OTHER CAR'S A PORSCHE. I’d see him in his various cars zipping about town, super models hanging out the windows, often without any clothing on and big breasts on display. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, my grievance is purely from a socio-economic disparity point of view.

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