Deep Clean

Deep Clean, short fiction, short story, AJ Kirby, Andrew Kirby, novelist, Paint this town red, bully, sharkways - HeadStuff.orgEasy does. Mirror. Signal. Manouevre. Thread the steer wheel through my hands, pull into layby. Then sit with car purring underneath me like, how you say, a sated tiger.

A piece of sweat run down my forehead. I wipe on sleeve so it not spoil car interior.

Behind blue, red lights wash the windscreen. Cop keeps copcar lights running even as he climbs out, walks lazily over to the side of my vehicle. Bends into a 7. Tries to see through tinted window. Then makes mimeshow of winding down the window. Cars like this not had manual window-winders for big time.

I press button: window whirrs down. Cop sticks his potato face in space where cloudy glass was. Belches question in my face quick as a hit with stick. I flinch and nice leather seat makes creak. In my country cop really would have stick, no complications to use.


His question: this your car, sir?

            Ask it like I already lie. His eyes tick-tocking round me, at my stonewash jean and my Dinamo football shirt. And I want to tell him outfits not my business. His either.

He take my silence like an advertisement. Like I am Loot and he can now proceed to walking round car, kicking at tyres. When he touches the flank of it, fingerprinting grubby cop hands over the paintwork, I must bite my tongue to stop yell.

My feet tell me I could make dart. Escape into fields. Course my only move is a remove. Pull off driving glove.

Cop come back to window. Tells me it is nice ride. I roll my eyes at him before I stop myself. I know it a nice car. Otherwise it not my business to ride it.

Cop make a matryoshka doll of his questions. He ask my name, where I live, what I do for living. Inside each question is real one he wants answered. How I driving a ride like this and he isn’t.

I give no answer. I am not in the business of advertise. My company not advertise. This is not kind of business we are in. Client hear about us on the grapevine and call us because word of mouth says we a company they can trust, how you say, implicitly. We offer discrete, professional service and we like bears when it comes to protecting our client’s… well, not secrets exact, but you know what I insinuate.

The sanctity of the relationship is sacred is another way to say it.

Client trust is our obsession. I will say nothing about what in the trunk.

Cop goes to front of car, make note of numberplate. Radios back to his base. Then, after talking, he come back and ask me to step out of vehicle. When I unclunk-unclick and close door, it make a lovely smooth sound like snowfall.

He make me sit in back of his car. It have scratchy seat and the door when he slam it sound like train crash. He tell me get used to it.

He tell me we know it isn’t your vehicle… Unless your name is Hunter Carmichael, owner of Carmichael Industries.

I keep my face quiet but inside my heart thrumming. We both know Mr. Carmichael octogenarian and even sleep in pinstripe suit. What cop not know is Mr. Carmichael still active. Cop should have seen his wife when she was animate. I used to think maybe I could have wife like her if I stay best at job.

Before you say, I am not chauffeur. Nor thief.

I am delivery technician. I take car from showroom or port direct to client address. Or from depot after service back to the client home. These are good cars. Limited edition and collectible cars. Sleek cars which whisper like secrets when you drive. I am not permitted to drive clients so I do not wear cap. So not chauffeur. This more complicated business.

On the way to client address, some might construe I make-believe I am king and client car my chariot. But it is not this. The vehicle is client property and I must treat as such. I am issued check-list. Condition of car on collection. Condition of car on drop-off. I take pride my cars reach drop-off better than the car driven by other driver. It hurt me when the car not at top-tip. When the client, or cop, cannot see his face reflected in the flank.

I take it up with them at depot sometime. After mechanics, they have valet service. But it is not good. They do not provide deep clean of vehicle. Theirs only a surface skim. My mother a cleaner. She would know. You check for dust or mud-spatters even though the bonnet sparkling. You check inside the trunk, even under the material where the spare wheel is kept. Where other things kept too.

Because of this our client list like Times rich list. Millionaire property developers. Business magnates. My country oligarchs. People who value their privacy and do not like the Peepingtoms. In my country this like a law, but here, even though Englishman home is castle, there is always snoopers and gossips, newspapers willing to pay through an ear for information tidbits.

Once, a tabloid shake a heavy brown envelope at me. They ask if I take secret camera into home of high-profile actress. I tell them no. And deliver her flamingo-pink convertible to the listed address no question asked. That is the kind of business I am in.

Was in.

Cop pops the trunk and at same time my face pops also. My jaw goes slack and my eyes water some and I must give a big gulp. He lift up material and see where spare wheel should be. And we both know he see Carmichael’s hammer with blood on it.

Cop swing round and copeyes me right in the face.

His question: what do you know about this?

My answer: it is mine.

Client trust my obsession.