“Come on. It’ll only take a minute,” he says.
I follow him into the night. The darkness is gray with shadow. We walk through the lawn, and my feet slip against my Flip-flops, wet with dew.
He opens the garage door, bends down to plug in the lights. A sudden brilliant fluorescence. I follow him into that domain, that inner sanctum pungent with mechanical incense, that strange but comforting perfume that garages all seem to possess. New rubber and old oil.
Something about the scent of a garage takes me back to my childhood.
“Which one is pink?” He says leaning over the disassembled innards of his CBR. He is colorblind. I am his eyes. He points to a group of four wires.
I nod, straighten, and look around, not ready to leave yet, feeling lonely for this sudden ghost of childhood I’ve stumbled into.
“Here hold this for a second. Against that.” He hands me the wired node of a multimeter and points to the exposed battery terminal. I oblige. Nothing ever really takes a moment, but I am wandering now.
“The queen died today. Did you see?” I ask, as if the grease fumes have shorted the circuts of my own brain.
“Uh-huh,” he says, squinting at the multimeter.
Uh-huh, I think. That’s it. Just uh- huh.
I lean down over the battery terminal and study it as if I’m drunk. Maybe I am, on memories and gas fumes. It sort of humbles you to think that no matter how important you are, someone out there will notice your disappearance with only an uh-huh.
I study an oil stain near my feet on the floor and wonder if someday someone else will come into this garage and wonder how it got there and why. Or maybe no one cares about these things except for me. I switch the node to the other side of the battery terminal on request and blink sleepily at the opposite side of the CBR where a pile of dirty paper towels reposes.
I want to stay in the garage a minute longer feeling this childhood ghost. Feeling the end of things. The start of others. We bundle all of those cords up inside us, just like the wires in the CBR– past, present, future all running through us like circuitry. And when we’re broken up or at loose ends who opens us up and finds the pink wire?
The QUEEN died today, I think to myself in disbelief.