Mechanical Memories

This new guy came to work with us the other week. His name is Ivan, and he is this real bad motherfucker. I am talking tattoos all over his arms, real big and muscular, but not really lean like male models, more real. Like a biker, only not phony. He has an accent, like in the movies. I guess he came over from Russia or some place like that. And he is really good with engines, that is what the boss told me.

Ivan is coming up to my desk, his overalls are covered in grease, he is carrying his toolbox. He says hi, I say hi back, “Are you ready to finish your shift?” I ask.

“Yes, just about,” he replies. I can smell his sweat and car parts on him.

“That’s good for you,” I say. “Hey, I gotta remind you. You did not punch out yesterday. You have to punch out, or the boss doesn’t know how long you worked?”

“Really?” he says, “I thought I did.”

“Here, take a look,” I say and turn my laptop around so he can see.

“Oh yeah, you’re right,” he says. “Hey, I Iike your wallpaper.”

My desktop background is this red curtain, really old-timey, with little gold patterns. “Thanks,” I say.

“Yes. It reminds me of this old cafe we used to go to called The Royal. My last night in the old country it was me, my friend Nikolai and these two women he knew. We were wearing tuxedos, they were wearing evening dresses. We were walking down the hallway and when we reached the stairs, Katerina, the one who was my date, I put my hand on the small of her back,” he pauses. “Or maybe it is something I saw through the window from out in the street.”

I smile.

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