The Panel-Beater

by October 19, 2020 0 comments

At first, there was only the receptionist –
rather overweight, dyed blonde, with a smile
that said, ‘Aren’t I glamorous?’ Then she shouted
into the back room and he appeared – small,
far from young, crippled by what looked like
the damage of childhood polio. He led me
at a surprising clip to where my car was parked.

He talked. He said he was an ‘old dude;’
he had no truck with these modern ways.
Now they just look at a damaged tailgate and say
you have to replace it – eighteen hundred quid
a pop. He was right – I’d just been through that
elsewhere. What you need is a real panel-beater,
one who’s seen everything. And then he winked.

He said he could do the job for seven hundred.
It would need clamping, filling, repainting
of course. Good as new. I liked his company;
he had a big, toothy, world-weary grin. I went
back through the office; the blonde wasn’t there,
maybe she never had been. He had disappeared
into a dingy mechanics’ shop, vanished from sight.

The workshop backed onto scrubland, traversed
by motorway slip roads; as I walked away to find a bus
I reflected that, of course, I have no idea whether
he will do a good job. Nevertheless, if you ever
want your panels beaten, and you suspect it could
be done without replacing the whole bloody car,
he comes with my heartfelt recommendation.

editors note:

How often do we hand our hardware and our hopes to the (in)competence of others? (We welcome David to our crazy congress of Contributing Poets with this submission. Read more of his madness on his new page – check it out.) – mh clay

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