Never Pet a Junkyard Dog

What I know about cars could fit into a muffler. Or a gas tank. Or maybe a spark plug. Whatever’s the smallest. I fall into the category of Los Angeles chicklets who are able to maneuver the puzzle-like freeways with the ease of an Indy race car driver, while having absolutely no idea what creates the magic synapses going on under the hood. Don’t ask me to pump my own gas — I might get my hands dirty. Don’t expect me to change a flat — that’s what AAA is for.

Or maybe a boyfriend.

If I had a boyfriend.

So when my sweet little silver BMW 520i was broadsided at the constantly congested intersection of Sunset and La Cienega, I thought for sure that my regular mechanic would be able to hammer out the dents and send me on my merry non-mechanically minded way. Immediately, I called the car service from my cell phone and was greeted with the nasal-edged voice of Ms. Mona Matthews.

“How can I be of service?” Mona asked me after introducing herself.

I described the damage, and then I requested a tow truck.

Mona’s tone was clipped and professional, and she quickly assured me that she’d do everything in her power to help. “We’ll send a truck right out, Miss Williams,” Mona promised. “But my guess is that there will be no need to take you to a garage.”

“Really?” I asked, my spirits lifting, “You think the guy will be able to fix it right here?” That was too good to be true. Maybe I’d make my morning audition after all.

“No, darling,” she said, and I caught a condescending tone in her voice, the type that appears when someone understands a concept that you do not. “Sounds to me as if it’s about time to pick yourself out a brand-new set of wheels.”

I was shocked. Yeah, my car had a crater in the right side deeper than the valley between a pair of newly pumped silicone breasts, and if I’d been chauffeuring a friend around, that person would have been — well, roadkill. But I hadn’t realized that the leaky green fluid showing up in a puddle beneath the chassis meant that the spirit of my beloved Beamer had gone to car heaven.

My shoulders sagged. Living without wheels in Los Angeles is flat-out impossible. People get into their cars to motor to a café 10 paces down the street. You know that song “Nobody Walks in L.A.?” It’s our gospel. Groaning, I asked for Mona’s advice. She was more than happy to give it.

“Brock’ll be there in 20 minutes. Why don’t you take the ride to the salvage yard with him? We’ll do the paperwork here and send it off to the insurance company. You won’t have to worry your head about it.”

Although I’m certain that the woman was only trying to be helpful, her know-it-all attitude irked me. That and the way her tinkling laugh punctuated the call. “Get ready to prepare for the funeral of your four-wheeled friend. And bring a camera. You’ll need pictures.”

“For the viewing?” I asked, deeply confused.

“For the insurance company. They have to determine that your car would cost more to fix than to replace. Once we get your automobile laid out in a safe place, you’ll take photos from all sides, and then your insurance representative can talk about getting you a new B-M-W.”

All right, so that’s what her problem was. She had a thing for girls with fancy foreign cars. I could tell that from the way she stretched out the initials of my recently deceased auto. Still, I took her advice. There was a drugstore across the street, so I picked up a disposable camera, then I dialed my agent and begged her to try to reschedule my appointment. After that, I sat on the corner looking at the sparkling shards that once had made up my passenger side window. The glass glinted diamond-like beneath the hot California sun.

Half an hour later, a yellow tow truck pulled up in front of me. That wasn’t a surprise. The Los Angeles rule is that you can get anywhere in 20 minutes. But L.A. lies. Thirty minutes from Venice was much more accurate.

“You called for a tow truck?” a man in blue coveralls asked me. I looked up at him. Dark hair. Gray-green eyes. Deeply tanned skin. In L.A., your bartender might turn up on stage at the Whiskey A-Go-Go. The grocery girl could be starring in a 20-million-dollar motion picture before you make it back to buy food again. Everyone wants to be doing something else. This man perfectly fit Hollywood’s version of a salvage yard mechanic. He was so good-looking that for a moment, I forgot how to talk.

“The Beamer girl, right?”

I nodded. I guess I look the part. “I was,” I said sadly.

“It’ll take just a minute to hook your car up, and then we’re set.” I climbed into the truck’s cab while he did the work, not wanting to watch my car in such an indelicate position, and I gazed out at all the other people driving on their way to somewhere more fun than where I was going. Moments later, Brock joined me, and we motored down Sunset almost all the way to Santa Monica, picking up the 405 right after UCLA.

We didn’t talk for most of the journey, but I was aware that he kept sneaking glances in my direction. How did I know? Because I was doing the same thing. Hey, in Hollywood, this was what would be called a “cute meet.” Car crash kid. Handsome mechanic. Oil-slicked hands caressing soft smooth skin…

The CB radio in the cab sparked to life, and we got to listen in to a description of another, far more serious car crash, somewhere down in Marina del Rey.

“You know, losing your car isn’t the worst thing that could happen to you,” Brock said, with the wisdom of a fortune cookie.

“I know,” I said, but my mind was saying, Really? Are you sure?

“Because you’re not such a Beamer girl after all, are you?”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve got opportunities now. Your insurance company will send a check. You can go shopping. Find a vehicle to really suit your personality.”

“All right,” I dared him, “try me.”

He squinted as he looked me up and down, then finally, eyes back on the road, he said, “I see you in a pickup,” nodding to himself. “A red one.”

“I’m not a truck girl.”

Christ, how my friends would laugh at that picture. I tried to imagine bringing a pickup to a valet, driving a truck onto a movie lot. You want rugged in Los Angeles? Get an SUV, one whose wheels will never ever meet mud.

“You don’t know that. You just might be if you give yourself a chance.”

I considered the statement as we pulled into a dirt lot. He dropped me off at the reception center in the front where I saw a girl through the window, who I knew instantly was Mona. Pristine white outfit. Overly teased red hair. Tightly pursed lips. And white gloves on her hands. Who wears gloves in the summer? I stared at her, then glanced out into the filthy lot. And how could this woman possibly stay so clean around all that dirt?

“I’ll meet you around back,” Brock called. “Once you finish doing the paperwork. Good luck, by the way.”

I entered the reception area and walked straight into hell. Mona led me through the forms, but her attitude continued to grate on my already tender nerves. It was almost an hour before we were finished, and each time I had to write in the make of my car, Mona would drawl, “B-M-W.” Finally, she got on a phone and called out to somewhere in the distant regions of the scrap yard. She asked a few questions, then gave me directions.

“She’s over that way. Around the corner.”

“Look, I have to ask,” I said, “how do you stay so incredibly clean out here?”

“Just because I work in a wreckage yard doesn’t mean I have to get my hands dirty,” she lifted one white-gloved hand to me as I headed out the door.

I nodded, as if that made any sense, and then I headed out in the direction she’d pointed. This route took me past a puppy with a calico coat. The dog was fiercely chained to a pole 10 feet away from me, and I supposed that one day his job would be to protect the lot, but at the moment, he was doing his best to roll on his back and offer me his belly.

Pet me, his body said. Pet me, his little yips called out.

Bending down, I stroked his underbelly. “And one more thing, sweetheart,” the receptionist called out to me from the open doorway. I glanced up at her, waiting.

“You don’t never want to pet a junkyard dog.”

Now, I looked down at my hands. They were black from the oil and dirt on the dog’s coat. Maybe he wasn’t a calico, after all. Maybe he’d once pure white, but had spent too long in the dust and grime. Then there was Brock, interrupting my thoughts.

“Hey, Beamer Girl. This way.” He tossed me a rag, and I did my best to wipe the dirt off my hands. Then I followed Brock’s fine ass around the corner to where the hulking remains of my once-sleek machine lay in state. Quickly, I took the pictures I needed. And then, because you don’t run into such pure beauty all that often, I turned the lens on Brock.

“What’cha doing?” he asked, but he didn’t tell me to stop.

“I don’t know. It’s been such a bad day. I thought I’d capture the best part.”

“That’s not the best part…”

“Really?” I asked, tilting my head at him. The horror of the crash and the tedious paperwork fell away from me as I registered the look in his eyes. “What would that be?”

Motioning with one hand, he pointed to the body of a red pick-up truck several feet away. The engine was long gone, but the truck appeared pretty much intact. “Climb on in. Check it out. Take it for a test drive.”

I didn’t have anything to lose at this point. So I slid myself into the cab and got behind the wheel. Immediately, I liked how high I was off the ground. I could see more. Although, all I was seeing now was the sprawling wasteland of automobiles stacked in a huge, colorful heap of jagged metal. But I could imagine what it would be like to ride above the rest of the L.A. riff-raff, all the fancy people in their tiny little sports cars.

“You like that?” he asked, climbing in on the passenger side.

I nodded.

“And even that’s not the best part.”

“Really?”

“This is.” He put both hands on my shoulders and turned me to face him. And then he kissed me. The kind of really good kiss that unsettles your stomach and makes your whole body shake. I dropped the camera and came into his arms. And I knew as we melted together that I was getting dirty. Good dirty. Real dirty.

“Oh,” I sighed, my heart racing. “You’re right. That is good.”

“And it gets better.” He was teasing me, and I was letting him. There was nothing else to stop us. Just Brock, pushing the seat back, taking me out on the length of it. He pushed my short sleek skirt up my thighs, traced his fingers gingerly along the seam of my panties. I could visualize what that looked like: smudged fingerprints marking my white bikinis, and I liked the thought of that. His hands traced gently over my hips, then slid under my ass to cradle me. Carefully, he lifted me upward at the same time bringing his mouth to the split of my panties. With a gentleness that I wouldn’t have expected, he sweetly licked me through the filmy fabric barrier of my panties. Licked and tricked his tongue in slippery circles until I was pressing up against him, forcefully taking control of the ride.

“You’re sweet,” he murmured. “I can taste you through these. But, you know what…”

“What?” I begged, desperate to hear what he had to say.

“I’d much rather taste you for real.”

Sighing, I lifted my hips and felt him pull my panties down, all the way down. Then his mouth was back on me, and the true pure feeling of the wetness of his tongue had me shuddering all over. I couldn’t believe how excited I was. Each time his tongue made a darting circle over my clit, I thought, Now! I’m going to come now! But I didn’t. I simply crested on further in the moments of near-bliss that can almost be more powerful sometimes than actual climaxing. I say “almost.” Brock knew how to make this ride last, and he didn’t seem to be in the slightest hurry. He teased me effortlessly, and when I finally couldn’t stand it anymore, he changed the route.

“Wait,” he said, and I knew the words before he said them. Guessed the words and said them before he could.

“Even that’s not the best part,” my voice was a whisper. “Right?”

“Right…” he said.

As I watched, he took off his coveralls and was now in just jeans and a T-shirt. And in a second those jeans were open and I could feel just how hard he was. Perfect hard. Driving inside me hard. Sending me spiraling into dangerous waves of desire. I felt his body push up on mine, felt myself take him in. We fit together so well, even in that tight, confined space. We made the most of the area that we had, sliding together in the right rhythm. Just the right rhythm.

Sunlight warmed us through the spider-cracked windshield. From around the corner, the dog yipped joyfully. The scent of the ocean, only a block and a half away, was stronger than the faded leather and oily car smells around us.

I came when he put one hand under my chin to lift my face to his. Staring into his eyes, I came. So hard, so good. Everything slowed down for a moment. I could see everything clearly.

Yeah, I thought. He was right. Worse things can happen to someone than crashing a car. And better things can happen on the same fucking day. Moving apart momentarily, we adjusted our clothes and then sat there, in a truck that could go nowhere, just grinning at each other.

When I turned the rearview mirror to eyeball my reflection, I saw the dirt smudges on my cheeks, saw the heat alive in my eyes. My carefully blown-out hair was loose and messy. My lipstick was gone, only a deep stain remained.

“Now, do you want to go look for that new truck of yours?”

I nodded.

“I’ll clock out. Meet me by the front gate.”

I nodded again, hoisted myself out of the cab, and walked unsteadily toward the entrance of the salvage yard.

“Oh, my god,” Mona screeched when she saw me, a look of total shock in her clear blue eyes. “What on earth happened to you?”

I paused for a second, catching a glimpse of myself in the wall of windows. “I guess you were right,” I smiled as I made note of the grime on my arms, the smudges of dirt on my skirt. My smile broadened as I remembered the fact that my panties were still lost somewhere amongst the debris at the front footwells of the pickup.

“Right about what?”

Brock pulled his shiny black truck around then, and I climbed up into the passenger side. Then I rolled the window down, and unable to help myself, I called out to her, “If you’re afraid to get dirty, then you don’t never want to pet a junkyard dog.”

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