The two men smoked cigarettes out back, not together,
but each elbow-deep in the guts of his own machine.
The Sportster had blown out another generator.
The white Dodge van had boiled two batteries dry.
An electrical gremlin was on the loose.
Tom flicked a lit cigarette in among the nubs of sprouting paper-whites.
Mark ground his out on the polished cement floor.

I had given up smoking with them (even bumming a drag instead of a whole cigarette);
the uneasy camaraderie of the smoky garage was delicate, precarious.
Instead, I floated in and out, like a wayward ghost in my own house,
anxious to leave, but straining beyond all reason to stay.

I sat in the warm passenger seat of the van.
Its short hood was standing open.
Through the gap, I'd catch quick flashes of Tom's thick, scarred fingers
gripping tools, wrenches and needle-nose pliers.
His cup of Peets coffee, a triple mocha
with the last oily vestiges of whipped cream on top,
grew tepid in the beverage holder on the console.
He would drink it cold.

My keys were in my pocket.
"I'm going," I said to Mark as I got into the truck.
He didn't answer; he probably didn't even hear me.
I rolled down the window and shouted "Bye. I'll be back in awhile"
as I backed out of the narrow driveway. Neither of them watched me leave.


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