Here we go again. Once more, the machines show their hatred for me.
Out of the goodness of my heart, and because I’m an all-round decent guy, as you well know, I volunteered to build a foundation for a friend of mine who recently got one of those horrible little steel sheds you have to assemble yourself. Or in this case, myself.
Ah well. Let’s do it with good grace.
Come on Bullet, I said. We’ll collect the concrete mixer I left at the back of Parkenstein’s house two months ago when I was making room for the party.
All right, he grunted.
And then we’ll go and buy six or eight bags of cement to go with the gravel I very thoughtfully picked up three months ago and dumped there with the promise to dig and pour the foundation by Saturday.
Bullet has become very monosyllablic these days, in keeping with his sixteen-year-old image. The bastard.
So we loaded up the mixer on the back of my trailer but as I passed the Bockmobile I noticed a peculiar smell from its engine. The kind of asphalty, tarmac odour that tells you this engine is running very hot. Very, very hot.
What the –? I grunted, the way they do in the comics just before they punch a mutant dinosaur-creature in the stomach and it goes Urk!
What the — ?
But there was no escaping the awful truth. There it is on the ground: water, and lots of it. The fucking radiator is leaking. Well, shit anyway, this is a pain in the arse, but we have a job to do, so I top up the water and hope for the best. Come on Bullet. Let’s move, I shout from the moving vehicle and grab him by the collar as he tries to scramble aboard. With any luck, this thing will keep going for a few miles.
Do you know what’s good for a leaking radiator? I’ll tell you. Some people swear by a raw egg. You can break it into the radiator and it’ll congeal in the leak. Other people use nutmeg, and I believe the best running repairs are done with pepper.
Unfortunately, I had none of these things, so all I could rely on was hope.
Come on, I keep repeating. Come on, you can do it, which proves that I’m both mad and stupid, talking to a mechanically propelled vehicle, but it’s the way we are. You see, I’m used to this motor doing awful things to me, like the time it burst a high-pressure oil-hose and spewed out all the lubricant in a nano-instant, resulting in the cam-shaft blowing itself to bits with a soft Boom! Or the time the turbo blew up on me and I had to search the country for a replacement that didn’t cost the price of a small hadron collider. And then there was the time the steering thingy suddenly went fuckways and tried to fling me over a hedge at sixty miles an hour. So, you see, I know a sinister mechanical sound when I hear one. I’m an experienced driver and I’ve done more than the average amount of dismantling motor vehicles and putting them back together with just a few springs left over.
So that was why, when I heard a distant Thud! I knew something had gone wrong, but it wasn’t an engine problem this time, nor a steering problem, nor a constant-velocity joint suddenly falling to bits, nor a ball-joint tearing itself to pieces.
This Thud! was different. This particular Thud! was the noise a concrete mixer makes when it falls off a trailer and crashes onto the road in the face of oncoming traffic. A new noise for me.
Did you ever try to hold back a busy lane of traffic while at the same time picking up a concrete mixer and hauling it onto a trailer, while a sixteen-year-old watches you with his hands in his pockets until you scream ARE YOU GOING TO HELP ME WITH THIS FUCKING MIXER FOR FUCKSAKE!!!! ?
And then it started to rain. And it got very cold. And we still had to dig out foundations and mix a load of concrete, so we’d better get moving, strap down the mixer tightly and drive on. And then … well … what?
What do you think happened next?
All right. I’ll give you a hint. The tightly-strapped-down mixer forced its way through the rotten floor of the trailer, gouging a long horrible groove in the road and there I am like a fucking madman, wrestling it back out of the splintered timbers and what’s Bullet doing?
What? Go on — guess. That’s right. He’s standing with his hands in his fucking pockets looking at me hanging off the back of a broken trailer, trying to force a big bastard of a concrete mixer out of a hole in its floor, with purple veins bursting out of my temples and my eyes bulging like a crazed Sumo-murderer, and he’d possibly still be standing there if he hadn’t noticed me reaching for a rusty pipe-wrench and realised he was in serious danger.
I brought the Bockmobile to the Laughing Mechanic this morning.
Well? I said.
Fucked, he said. I’d say you’re fucked.
Thanks, I said.
No problem, he chuckled. That’ll be fifty euros.
You were wondering about the foundations we were supposed to build? Yeah, well, see, we ran out of gravel. They’re half done.