Something to wet the whistle or tickle the fancy depending on your metaphor preferences. Its from the new project which at this stage, 10,000 words in, looks like being a series of novellas.

WARNING – Strong-ish language.

“This is a bit seedy.”

“About what you’d expect from a chop shop,” answered the young man beside the older driver. David Browne glanced at his son, a grin flashing across his face as he angled their expensive car into a possibly safe space at the end of the seedy alley. “It’s always interesting with you, Mac.”

The boy grinned back. “I warned you.”

“You did. No regrets.”

“Thanks. That does mean a lot, David.”

“Welcome. Now, your new car is here?”


Mac led the way into the only open roller door and was greeted by what to his father looked a cross between a zombie bikie and a bear.

“Hey, Mac,” said the bear. “It ain’t ready yet. Not quite, anyways.”

“No problem, Silvio. Just brought my dad to have a look.”

The bear glanced at the older man; his face neutral. He grunted and flung a huge arm inward. An invitation. David Browne tried not to be seen taking too big a side-step around the man. He quickly caught up to Mac who had gone straight to a rather underwhelming Audi A6.

A smallish man came out of a daggy office to join them.

“You the dad?” he said by way of introduction. David nodded.

“What the fookin’ hell you doin’, lettin’ a kid have a fookin’ car like this.” This was accompanied by a great many swinging arm gestures.

David laughed, looked the strange man straight in the eye and said, “You ever win an argument with him?”

He seemed nonplussed to be spoken to that way, then burst out laughing.

Meanwhile Mac was pouring over the car. A pair of slim, childlike legs slide out from under it just in front of David. The pixie-like girl attached to them came next and sprang upright. “Fookin’ Germans,” she said. Mac gave her a quizzical glance.

She threw her arms in the air and said, “They fookin’ bury the good stuff deep. Ran a fookin’ diagnostic this mornin’ and the fookin’ valences were out by five fookin’ milliwatts. The fookin’ adjuster is behind the fookin’ exhaust in’it.”

“Me daughter, Mildred,” said the other man to David. “We calls her ‘Dred’ for some odd fookin’ reason.”

Mac and Dred had started an intense conversation so David offered his hand to the man and said, “David Browne.”

The hand was shaken and Dred’s father said, “Eustace, just Eustace. No last names here, bucko.”

“Fair enough. Tell me about the car because he won’t.”

“Ha. Plays it close does your boy, that’s for fookin’ sure. But he’s a man of his word and pays on time. Now, the car … ah, you want the full dope cos I’ll deny all this in court if …”

David laughed again and made a sign of the cross. The Irish accent and crucifixes around the necks of all present had given that away.

“Done then. Rego n’ VIN are off the donor, an old A6 we picked up at the wreckers. Body panels and chassis too. Everything else is custom. Engine’s from an S6 with turbo and supercharger added on. Suspension and brakes from a couple of V12 Jags.”

“Horsepower?” asked David.

“Five hundred and ten fookin’ kilowatts.”

“Dear God!”

“You ain’t fookin’ wrong. Stops right smart though and with the electronics me Mildred has added, it drives like a train on tracks. Bullet proof too with a front battering cage. That’s what the power is for. The thing ways three fookin’ tons.”

David was speechless. It must have showed because Mac stopped his conversation and joined him. “Eustace hasn’t been scaring you, has he, David?”

Dred caught her breath and covered her mouth. “You called ya Da by name, Mac-o-boy.”

“Yes,” he said slowly turning to her. David Browne knew that tone and the look. Dred was about to get a lesson in manners.

She grinned, held up her hands and took a step back which collided with Silvio, who caught her playfully. Perhaps she already has, thought David.

“No, no,” he said. “Eustace has played a straight bat. The numbers are a bit staggering, is all.”

Mac grinned. “It’s effectively a mobile ops centre. Executive protection level hardware and a comms system, courtesy of the amazing Dred, that rivals most police forces.

 “I hope I never attract the attention these precautions warrant but if I do …”

Silence hung for a few seconds before Eustace said. “Well, that’s the tour, David, me boy. Can I offer ya a cup o’ coffee? Brewed it myself.”

David glanced at Mac who nodded. “Why not?” he said and allowed himself to be ushered into the daggy office. Mac and Dred continued their discussions.

Half an hour later David gingerly backed his Volvo out of the alley in Petersham and headed for the city.

“He makes good coffee.”

Mac laughed, “That he does. Always has. His wife is Italian, a Catholic marriage, and she insisted he learn the right way. Silvio is her little brother.”

“You’re making this up!”

“No. All true. The joys of cliché. They’re very talented but completely outside the law. Eustace and his team could make a fortune in the custom trade but they won’t be told in any fashion. Gets them in trouble sometimes but that’s what let me get to know them, so I can’t complain really. Who else would build a car like that?”

“Ha. Your paperwork all done?”

“Yep. Exemptions and documents were all stamped two days ago. Special Provision driver’s license is waiting at the DMR now. I’ll pick it up this afternoon. Take a left here, David. I’ll get you to drop me a block short and walk in.”

David made the turn, brooding a little. This was standard operating procedure for the whole family now, all at Mac’s insistence. It was a bit like being in a spy film really and nothing had ever happened but the implication of threat which it presented sometimes got him down. He wouldn’t change a thing that had happened in the last seventeen years with this extraordinary man who was his son, but sometimes …

He pulled over into a loading zone. As Mac unlocked the door, David said, “Will we see you for dinner?”

“Should do. I’ll text Mel if anything changes.”

David nodded. “Hope it goes well.”

The grin he received back was more than a little chilling. “Oh, it will. It will”

Published by iandavidmartin

Australian; Architect; Writer

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