It’s a scorcher today.
I'm covered in grease, trying to fix this axle on a Volkswagen. It’s been a piece to deal with. I prefer American-made cars. International cars are a bit more complex and take a bit longer to fix.
As I am tightening a bolt I can’t help but look over my shoulder at my dream car. 1970 Chevelle. I found her when I was at a junkyard looking for spare parts. There she was, singing for me. She is my girl.
Some think it’s weird that a girl is a mechanic, but it’s all I’ve ever known. My brother, Lawson, and I work at my brother’s garage. Leland has been doing this since before I can remember. Our dad ran off with a new girlfriend when I was young and my mom was in a bad car accident. She’s alive but has a traumatic brain injury. She has good and bad days but through both, she has no idea who we are to her. My oldest brother Leland dropped out of High School to take care of us. Lawson soon followed to help lighten the financial load and because we spent all our time in the garage, I picked up the trade pretty easily. Leland lives behind the shop and is here all the time. He’s finally making a name for himself thanks to yours truly. He has been named one of the town’s best mechanics. Lawson spends his free time at parties and surfing. I only hang out with him when he’s surfing.
“Collins, is that Volkswagen ready?” Leland asks coming from the front.
“Yeah, It’s good,” I responded.
“Sweet, I’ll call the owner and let them know.”
As I wipe the car down and drive it back to the front for pickup, I see my best friend Massey pull into the parking lot. Since school, she’s been there for me. She used to sneak me food at school, then let me sleep over when my brothers threw parties to let off steam.
Tonight is night surfing then people will head to Lawson’s for his after-party. Massey and I only go night surfing.
“Collins! Ready for some waves? Clean Lines ready for us!” Massey asks.
“Alright, let me clock out.”
She follows me into the office where my brothers are hanging out.
“I’m out!” I nod to Leland
“Cool, Night surfing right?” Leland asks.
“We will be there,” I point to Massey and me.
“Cool, We will see you there,” Leland goes back to look at the books.
“Party at mine after?” Lawson asks. I wish he wouldn’t party so much.
“No,” Massey and I say at the same time.
I give them a fist bump and Massey and I head out. We stop by my house so I can change and grab my boards. We head to a local-only spot to surf in the afternoon into the evening. Before we arrive we stop off at the store for some food, drinks, and glow sticks. Once we arrive at our local’s only spot we see a small group of people around with a few fire pits going and a small number of people in the water.
Massey jumps out of the truck so excited to hit the waves. “Let’s rip this shit!”
I laugh and get out grabbing my longboard. You would never know that Massey works for corporate lawyers by the way she talks. We head right to the water’s edge and lay our wax. Once we have our boards as we like, we stand with the waves gently kissing our toes. As a tradition, we link our pinky fingers and swing our arms.
“Big waves.” I smell the ocean air.
“Big rewards,” Massey responds.
With that, we set off. Paddling into the surf, ducking under the wave as it rolls over us. Getting up on every wave we can and riding the current. After a few hours and the sun starts to set we head back to shore to grab a bite to eat. As we sit on the tailgate of my truck eating we look over and that’s when I notice him. The way the bonfire rises in contrast to his hazel eyes captivates me. He’s watching me as I am watching him. He has two girls pawing at his side for attention and he is looking at me.
“Damn,” Massey looks over at the group.
“What?” I ask.
“Victor is here.” Her eyes point to the guy I was looking at. I sat there in shock. Does she know him? “My dad works with his dad, blah blah boring work. Victor just joined the west coast firm for a deal that is supposedly in words. My dad and the partners have been hushed about it. Victor is one of the most sought-after lawyers and consultants in the corporate world. My dad tried to set us up and sent us on one date. I left after the first round of drinks.”
I face my best friend with a confused look all while laughing. “Why? You have to explain this!”
“He just didn’t seem interested, and honestly I’m not either.” She explains. “He’s not my type.”
“What is your type?” I ask. I already know who her type is.
“I’ll let you know when I know. But I do know what I don’t like. He’s not bad just...How do you say it without sounding mean? He’s a douche.”
I can’t hold back the laughter. “Wow! Ok. Well, you are a liar, you like my brother.”
“If he didn’t party so much,” she shrugs her shoulders and blushes.
I nod my head in agreement. “It is kind of annoying,” We continued to eat while watching Victor talk with my brothers. I can only imagine them talking shop talk. It’s all they ever talk about. “Let’s go catch up with my brothers.” I grab the bag of glow sticks and we walk to the group of people. As we approach we hear the tail end of their conversation.
“She isn’t your type,” Leland speaks.
“Avert your eyes, Vic,” Lawson adds.
“What’s up, boys?” Massey interrupts. Trying not to make an awkward situation more awkward.
They grow silent and it makes me feel uneasy like they were talking about me. Kind of pisses me off.
“Hey, Victor,” Massey waves.
“You know this tool?” Leland looks at her surprised.
“Yeah, our dads are working together at the firm and he works there as well. We also went on a date,” she explains.
“What?!” Lawson was shocked by the admission.
“Sorry, it didn’t work out Massey. You are nice, I just…” Victor replies.
“It’s cool, don’t worry. I feel the same way.” She responds. “No hard feelings.”
“You went on a date with Mr. Clean here?!” Lawson says annoyingly.
“Mr. Clean?” Victor furrows his brows staring at Lawson.
I am laughing at my brother’s jealousy over Massey. I wish they would get over themselves and date already.
“Yeah douche, do you have a hearing problem?” Lawson puffs his chest out.
“Knock it off Law,” Leland says. “Collins, you have the glow sticks?”
“Yeah, here you go,” I pass around the sticks. I hand one to Victor and make eye contact with him.
“Thanks, Collins is it?” He asks.
Before I can even respond my brother pipes up. “Lose the name from your mouth. You are here as a courtesy to your dad.” Leland states.
“I am trying to be nice! You all are making it so damn hard.” He replies.
“You’re not local!” Lawson tells. “This is a local thing.”
“I’ll be working with locals on this deal to keep this place the way it is,” Victor responds.
“Good, but as long as you remember you are not local,” Leland confirms.
“Damn Leland, back up,” Massey tries to calm the tension.
“Wow, measuring dicks tonight are we,” I laugh. The three “men” stand to stare each other down.
“No competition,” Leland smirks.
“Winner here,” Lawson looks over at Massey.
“Delusional bunch of assholes if I’ve ever seen,” Victor says.
“Wow, I’ll judge!” Massey says.
I just shake my head and start to walk off. This is too much. As I turn I hear his voice.
“Where are you going, Collins?” Victor asks.
“Away from you merry bunch of holes,” I walk away. I take a moment and turn back and see Victor watching me. My brothers are talking about something and not paying attention. It’s the way he is looking at me like no one else is here. I turn and continue to the waves with my longboard. As I’m walking, Massey follows behind and takes my pinky in hers.
“He’s eyeing you,” She whispers.
“He can keep it in his pants. I don’t need to be around any more macho men.”
Massey laughs at me. Knowing me since we were kids, she knows when to push and when to let things go. At least I thought she did.
“Yeah, well we will see. Not even the nicest guys turn your eye.” She wiggles her eyebrows at me.
“I am not wasting my time Massey.”
“You deserve a life too, Collins.”
“I like my life the way it is.”
“If you say so” She responds.
We grab our boards and I am dragging mine when suddenly the back end seems lighter. I turn and see hazel eyes and half a smile. I can only stare at him, unsure of what to say or do.
“So um… I don’t surf.” He shyly says.
“Then stay out of the water,” I firmly state. I don’t understand why he would tell me. We all could see he wasn’t a surfer.
“Why don’t you tag with me? We usually just sit out there with the glow sticks and paddle around. Surf isn’t anything to ride. Just help paddle.” Massey offers.
Victor sets my board down gently and looks over at Massey. “Is it ok that I do? I’d like to know more about the locals here and what you all are up to. You know for research.”
“Yeah, like I said just help paddle,” she says.
We walk into the water and I get on my board and wait for Massey and Victor to get situated. The next thing I know my board dips and I look back at Lawson tagging on my board.
“Why are you tagging?” I ask.
“Hush!” he responds.
“God! You are a baby.” I roll my eyes. “Help me paddle fatty.”
I hear him huff and he starts paddling with me. With each stroke, he is pushing us toward Massey and Victor. Trying everything to get closer to them. As soon as we are at a good spot we crack the sticks and so does everyone else. Between the music coming from the beach, the moonlight, the stars, and the glow stick it’s a good evening. It’s nights like tonight that give me an escape from working and visiting my mom at the assisted living facility. Suddenly I am brought out of my tranquil thoughts by douche one and douche two.
“Take your paws off her dog,” Lawson screams.
“What is your deal? I was helping her with her necklace. It got caught up in her hair,” Victor responds.
“Don’t touch her!” Lawson continues.
“I am right here!” Massey yells back. They continue to talk like she isn’t there.
“Are you dating her?” Victor sarcastically asks.
“Well No,” Lawson pinches his lips together.
“So what the fuck does it matter?” Says Victor.
“You can’t touch her!” Lawson implies.
“Technically, he can,” I pipe in and say.
“Shut it, Collins,” Lawson yells at me.
“Whoah, Dude,” Victor says. Shocked at his outburst toward me. “Don’t talk to her like that.”
“I’m going to rip you to shreds dude,” Lawson threatens.
“Come at me!” Victor challenges.
“Oh, fuck this!” I finally scream. I roll off my board and start swimming to shore.
“Collins,” Lawson screams after me.
“Wait,” Victor states.
“No! My night off to relax and you two pull this crap? Shit or get off the toilet, Lawson! Massey likes you, you like her! Fucking go on a date and end this parade of pride!!” I say. I am so done with this back-and-forth with them tonight.
“Collins!” Masse’s eyes narrow at me. Shit, I outed her.
“Sorry for outing you. Forgive me? I’ll make it up to you later. . . I am out of this hell hole,” I yell back swimming away.
As I swim back to shore and come out of the water I am met with my oldest brother. He’s standing there watching us and drinking a beer.
“You Good?” He asks.
“Yeah,” I shrug. “Just tired. See that law doesn’t break my board and bring it back tomorrow at the shop.”
“Do you need anything?” Leland asks.
“Nah, I’ll be at the junkyard tomorrow. Benny called and said my parts came in and I am going to pick what I can for my girl.”
Leland nods his head and I climb into my truck to head out. I just ratted out my best friend, I need to find a way to make it up to her.
I’ve got just the thing.