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“See what a good clean out can do?” Jake yelled, his hair whipping the side of his face.
I just grinned. This was the first time I’d taken “Rosie” out for a run. Two weeks ago, she was a rusting, metal hulk sitting in my garage refusing to kick over. I didn’t know much about cars, but I was glad Jake talked me into buying Rosie from the auction a month ago. A pre-loved ’67 mustang convertible, just looking for some TLC.
“She likes you,” Jake had said as I walked past, not really paying attention.
“Ha, all the women do,” I’d replied.
“She’d be a beauty if you gave her some loving.”
“Why don’t you buy her then?”
“Because,” Jake said, caressing the bonnet of the car, leaning in close like a lover, “she’s more you than me. Besides, you’re the one with the money to spend.”
I rolled my eyes. “Just because I have money to burn, doesn’t mean I have to buy the first thing that comes along.”
“This isn’t the first thing. And besides, don’t you think it’s time you bought yourself a ride that doesn’t say ‘I loaned this car from my Grandmother’?”
I laughed. There wasn’t anything wrong with my Festiva, but I had to admit it wasn’t exactly the ideal ride to pick up chicks in.
“If I did buy this jalopy, how am I going to get it on the road?”
Jake grinned. “Well, you’d be lucky that you know the best mechanic in the business.”
I knew Jake was living vicariously through me. He wanted me to buy the car so he could work on her. And that was okay. He’d been my best friend since he dacked Pete ‘Turd’ Burger in front of our grade three class. Pete never bullied me again. I figured just by being near Jake I was pretty safe, so that’s where I stayed all the way through school. Lucky for me, Jake actually like me too.
“So, what’s it gonna be?” Jake asked.
I sighed. She was a nice looking car under all that rust. And who could resist owning a car you could drive with the top down? “Alright,” I said, “but you’re doing her up for me, and I want her drivable in a month.”
Jake fist-pumped. “I’ll tell you when the bid’s high enough,” he said. “You better go register. The bidding’s due to start soon.”
It was actually quite exciting to buy my car at that auction. Jake reckons I got her for a song. She only cost me ten grand, and apparently they go for nearly twenty in her condition. Still, I’d just bought myself a car for ten grand that I had to pay another two-fifty to get towed to my garage. The flip-side was that Jake had spent every afternoon for the past month at my place, tinkering with her, while I sat on the work bench and drank beer.
She still needed a lot of work done, but at least now I could actually drive her.
As we turned the corner into my street, Jake punched me in the arm and said, “You didn’t tell me you were moving.”
“I’m not.” I looked to where Jake was pointing. A huge white moving truck was parked ass end in my driveway. Just as I pulled up out front, two fat guys came down the front steps carrying my new cinema lounge.
I leapt out of the car, and ran up the path. “Hey! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
The two guys looked at each other and shrugged. Without saying a word, they loaded my lounge into the back of the truck.
“Hey, dip shit. I asked you a question.”
“Look, we’re just doin’ as we’re told, man,” said the second guy.
“Who told you to move my stuff?”
He pointed to the house. “She did.”
I turned around to see Suzie standing at the front door with her arms folded. Her lips were pursed and her eyes flashed daggers.
“What the hell’s going on Suz?”
“What do you think?” she said, and then stomped back into the house.
“You want me to come in?” Jake asked. I hadn’t even realized he was right beside me.
“Nah, I’ll be fine. You should probably stay out here anyway. For your own safety.”
Jake laughed, but he’d seen Suz in these moods so he knew I was only half joking. As I headed into the house I heard him tell the moving guys to take an early lunch.
I followed the sounds of banging through to the kitchen.
“Suz?” I poked my head around the door way. In this mood, she may well have a weapon. She had her back to me and was rifling through a cupboard. “Suz? What’s going on?”
“I’ve had enough,” she said. She stood and turned, brandishing my barbecue branding iron.
“What do you want that for?”
“It’s mine,” she said, tossing it into a box on the bench.
“You don’t barbecue,” I replied. “And you gave it to me for my birthday. You can’t take it just because you bought it for me.”
“Watch me,” she said, and pushed past me into the lounge room.
“Come on, Suz. This is stupid. Tell me what’s going on and we can fix it.”
“Ha!” she threw her head back. “No, ‘we’ can’t fix it. ‘We’ are no longer, Rachel. I’m not putting up with this shit anymore.”
I was a little lost. I racked my brain for something big I might have done to piss Suzie off. I came up blank. Then again, at certain times of the month, anything could piss Suzie off.
"Are you PMS-ing?" I asked. Wrong question.
She turned on me, stabbing the air with her fake nails. "No, I'm not fucking PMS-ing. I'm fucking angry!" Suzie stormed around the lounge room, stopping every now and then to pick up a trinket or a photo frame and toss it into a box in the middle of the floor. She'd already been through our cd's by the look of the cases strewn everywhere.
"Are you serious? Is that a serious fucking question?" Suzie stopped, her hands on her hips. She stared me down for a few seconds, opened her mouth to say something, and then threw her hands in the air and stomped off into our bedroom. Against my better judgment, I followed her.
"You," she began again, stabbing at me with her finger over her shoulder, "drive me fucking crazy!"
"What the hell did I do?" I stood in the doorway while Suzie pulled clothes off hangers and stuffed them into a bag. All of a sudden, she stopped and sighed.
"You know what? I really think you have no idea."
"No idea about what?"
“What is there to know?”
Suzie looked at me like I was stupid. Then her expression softened a little, and she sighed. “I can’t do this anymore, Rach. I just can’t.”
“Is this about the mess I left after last night? I was going to clean it up after work today. You just got home before me.”
“Yes, it’s about the mess from last night. And about not calling when you’re late or not coming home. It’s about forgetting to feed the cat for God’s sake!” Suzie was off again, slamming her clothes into a bag, her voice getting louder with each accusation. “It’s about flirting with every bloody woman you come across. And that car. That piece of shit rust bucket taking up the garage. That’s what it’s about.” Suzie’s voice grew as she gathered steam. I didn’t try to stop her even when she threw my leather jacket into her bag. “It’s your stupid mates who use our house as a drop-in centre every weekend. It’s avoiding anything to do with family. Do you want me to go on?” she yelled as she emptied drawers into her bag.
“My house,” I said.
“It’s my house, Suz, not ours.”
“Whatever,” she spat and attacked the bathroom. I had no idea she was that pissed off. Oh sure, she’d have a go at me every now and then about getting home from the pub late, but she never actually told me she wanted me to stay home. And the car, well, that wasn’t her decision. It was my money, so my car. Another thought occurred to me.
“If I pissed you off so much, why did you stay so long?”
“Honestly? I have no idea.”
At least she’d stopped yelling at me. “It was the sex, wasn’t it?” I grinned. Suzie threw a bottle at me. Lucky for me, she was a lousy shot. She threw the bag onto the bed, and scanned the room. I guess she wanted to make sure she’d left me with just enough stuff to get through the week. I’d wait til after she left to go through what she’d left.
“It doesn’t have to end like this Suz. Can’t we talk this out like adults?”
“Ha! You? An adult?” She picked up the bags off the bed, struggling to lift the last one onto her shoulder. I leant over to give her a hand. “Fuck off,” she said.
I lifted my hands in protest. She struggled out of the room. I followed her through the front door, and stood on the verandah, watching as she threw the bags into the back of the Festiva.
“What the hell are you guys doing?” She yelled at the moving guys. “I’m not paying you to sit around on your asses all day. Finish putting my shit in the truck!” The bald guy shoved the rest of his lunch into his over-sized mouth and trudged past me up the steps. The second guy turned as he went past and said “Sorry, man.” I nodded. Jake came from round the back and handed me a beer.
“At least she won’t take the car.”
I smiled. “Yeh, she hates Rosie.”
“Want me to sneak your lounge back out of the truck?”
“Nah. I dropped prawns on it last night and haven’t had the chance to clean it yet. Give it a week and she’ll be getting rid of it anyway.”
Jake laughed. We clinked bottles, and I took a swig. I watched as the Festiva-formerly-known-as-mine drove away from the house, and out of my life. Just like that, I was single again.