cars

Lord Byron on Vorm Street

Sitting on Vorm Street

minding my own business in the sun

a guy came up to me.

I knew him. His name was Byron and he asked people to call him ‘Lord Byron’

but no one did.

“Did you know it’s going to rain for the next six days?” he asked.

“Yes I heard”

“I want to sell my car. I’m moving to Brisbane.”

“How much?”

“$2100. No offers.”

“No, too much.” I said.

He waved his hand at me and walked into the café I was out front of.

The door opened and cool air rushed into the street like a river.

I heard the voices of women inside, a baby cried.

A cockroach ran on the wall beside me. It trod on the bricks carefully

like a man does when he is barefooted on sand.

I looked at Byron’s car. It was eggshell blue and forty years old.

He would be selling it because it would never make it the thousand kilometres to Queensland.

The man also smoked in it.

I bought a pair of second-hand shoes off a man who smoked once,

the shoes forever smelled like smoke.

Every morning when I put them on

I would smell smoke.

I wore holes in those shoes, but they always smelled.

That car would never be any good, just like its owner.

Byron came out of the café and stood next to me.

“I’ll take $1500,” he said.

“No. What do I need a car for? I only live around the corner and the centre of town is only

over there.”

I pointed into the distance where the bridge could be seen stretching across the river.

“Driving only makes things complicated” I continued.

Byron walked away. He looked angry.

I had seen him swear at a man outside a nightclub once

The man knocked Byron down.

Byron’s confidence was never as great again.

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used car

The car sat on the road, two wheels up the gutter,

two down on the road.

It was a big car, sleek, and flash

but it was old and well used.

“It has a lot of kilometres on the clock,” the man said

touching the steering wheel gently.

“But it’s a good car.”

“Why are you selling?” I asked.

“I want something new,” he shrugged.

The car was beautiful, but you could tell it had been used a lot.

The seats were crushed down; it had the smell of history,

and there were scratches and tears over it.

“Just because it has been around, doesn’t change the fact

it’s a good car. It has never given me trouble.”

I liked the car

but the thought of all the people through it

all the problems that might come up

made me worry.

“I once drove this car across the country,” he said.

“I had a girlfriend I used to pick up; she lived out of town.

We did it in this car a number of times,” he pointed to the large back seat.

“The guy before me drove it an hour to work and an hour home

five days a week.

Before that an older guy had it, but even he didn’t buy it new.”

We started it up and he let me drive.

I had trouble changing gears; they seemed loose and hard to find. It wouldn’t drive for me very well

as if it didn’t like me.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“Give me some time to think,” I said.

On the bus home, I kept thinking of it

and looking at all the new cars parked in the houses as we passed.