Brake Pad Bargain

‘Hello?’ I knocked tentatively on the steel roller door, glancing around inside the seemingly empty room. A half-constructed, or deconstructed, engine was propped up against the wall, a cornucopia of tools scattered around it, like whoever had been holding the toolbox had been raptured mid-step.

         ‘Can I help you?’

         I gave a start and jumped, turning around to see a wizened old man in blue overalls leaning against the wall behind me.

         ‘Sorry, I’m just… how long have you been there?’

         ‘Long enough,’ the man grunted, spitting out whatever he’d been chewing on. I fought against the instinct to watch it and see if it was going to crawl away. ‘So, can I help you?’

         I coughed to regain my composure, straightening my back before I spoke.

         ‘I’m looking for a good, affordable mechanic near Ringwood to help me—’

         ‘Ohhhh,’ the man grinned, flashing all four of his teeth. ‘You’re the fella who’s ride got totalled just outta town.’  

         He waved his arm in the general direction of “just outta town”.

         ‘That’s me,’ I grumbled. ‘Look, can you help me or not?’

         ‘Depends,’ he grinned again.

         ‘I don’t have any money, or anything to offer you, but I can make money once I’m back in the—’

         ‘Naw, I don’t need your money, kid,’ he waved me away, stepping forward and past me into the shop. ‘I could use your hands though.’

         ‘My hands?’ I frowned, puzzled. ‘What do you mean?’

         ‘Do you know where to go to get your brake pad replacement around Ringwood?’

         ‘Why would I know that?’ I sighed.

         ‘You go to a little place just on the corner there,’ he said, pointing down the dusty road. ‘They’re the best at it over there. Very competitive pricing.’

         ‘What does that have to do with—’

         ‘I wanna beat them.’

         ‘What?’

         ‘I want to be the best,’ he said simply. ‘And I need your help.’

         ‘And if I agree to help you…’

         He grinned at me again (with only three teeth this time?).

         ‘I’ll get you back on the road.’