The other evening a random stranger knocked on the front door and asked if our car was for sale.
“For sale?” I murmured, clearly confused. “No.”
The man nodded and gnomically continued on his way making me feel as though I’d just missed out on the deal of the century. He might as well have asked where my aunt kept her rugby league trophies or my views on medieval crop rotation.
That was weird, I thought, standing in the doorway with a baffled look on my face.
You see the car is not for sale. There’s no sign on the car indicating it’s for sale. We have no desire to sell the car. The thought had never crossed our minds. What gave this fellow the impression our car was for sale? Were we the victims of a viscious whispering campaign? Did he regularly buy cars from stranger’s driveways while on his evening stroll? Or had he access to the deepest recesses of my subconscious where I secretly wished to flog the car but hadn’t got around to informing my conscious self yet? It was a mystery.
Then I looked at the car.
We hadn’t driven it in months. It’s parked under a plane tree and is coated in a glue-like layer of honeydew that rains down from the aphids that live up there. Spider webs were hanging from the wheel arches. Muck, dry leaves and pidgeon droppings encrusted the boot. It was too filthy for someone to bother to scratch CLEAN ME, or I WISH MY (insert preference here) WAS THIS DIRTY in the muck. Basic hygiene the enemy of wit in this instance. Yeah, now I looked at it, this chap was hoping to take a rapidly depreciating vehicle off our hands. I had to admit that even I was surprised to see it still possessed four working wheels and wasn’t resting on bricks.
I vowed to clean the car first thing the next morning and (several days) later made good on my promise.
The problem is that the battery is flat so we can’t start it to drive it anywhere. There’s an issue with the alternator. I know this because a neighbour informed me when I had the battery charger out again and it refused hold a charge. I nodded impatiently, like, yeah, I know that, mate. Then I dashed inside to google what an alternator is and what it does. This is salt in the wound to little kid me who wanted to grow up to be a car mechanic.
It’s true. Once upon a time I was delusional enough to think I could fix cars despite possessing zero facility for anything practical. I am in the unfortunate position of being incapable of repairing things but reluctant to pay for someone else to do it for me. That’s not true. I did once fix a sagging ceiling. By fix, I mean I stopped it crashing down on our precious daughter’s head with the help of an upturned wastepaper basket wedged on top of a step ladder. Admittedly it wasn’t a long term solution. At least not in my daughter’s opinion. Eventually we had to get someone in. Someone practical.
Being a cartoonist means acquiring and honing many varied skills. Writing, drawing, lettering, designing. All practical in some sense. Just not in anyway that’s useful in real life.
Anyway, that’s how I was shamed by a stranger into washing my car.
How was your week?
Last time I was so caught up in my Proustian reverie I completely forgot to mention what I’m up to. Get a load of these madeleines.
Over at Gumroad you can find my complete layouts of Kerry and the Knight of the Forest (out now from all good bookshops). A look under the bonnet (or ‘hood’ if you insist) of how I put that book together. If you find the alternator, let me know.
Last week’s Patreon short was your everyday tale of a ghostly real estate deal. Ever felt like your realtor lacked a pulse?
Tomorrow’s short story? Who knows? I had better get to work on it right away.
P.S. Wikipedia on Honeydew: Honeydew is a sugar-rich sticky liquid, secreted by aphids and some scale insects as they feed on plant sap. When their mouthpart penetrates the phloem, the sugary, high-pressure liquid is forced out of the anus of the aphid.
Conclusion: nature is gross.