Let me introduce myself. I am Dolores. I live with Geoff at 7 Camellia Close on the outskirts of town. I spend my time in the front room positioned in the bay window. The front room is decorated in tasteful beige and pink striped wallpaper and a beige carpet which doesn’t quite match the wallpaper. On the wall either side of the fireplace are pictures of the ‘Flying Scotsman’ and the ‘Brighton Belle’. Geoff keeps everything spick and span. Geoff’s mother is always going on at him to update the décor. From my vantage point in the bay window I can watch the comings and goings in the Close and be part of Geoff’s world. You see – I am the glamour in Geoff’s life. Oh, there is Celeste in the other room. Through there, what I call the back room. Yes, through those glass doors opposite my bay window. You’ve met Celeste. She was his first love (did she mention that?) thought so. Celeste is not a patch on me. After all, she is only a one tenth representation. I am full scale, not a model at all. Fully road worthy. I could be taken out for a spin, if Geoff could drive. He still has feelings for Celeste, mooning over her little guns, rigging and sails. Thinks I don’t know. Men, they are such fools.
It’s dark outside, the street lights came on half an hour ago. Next door’s cat has just weed under the bush in the front garden. No wonder it never flowers. There goes Mr Pritchard and Bonzo, the same route every day. Turn left, down the path by the big house and then into the park. Sometimes they take a ball and sometimes they come back with a stick. The phone is ringing, the answer machine will take a message. It will be his mother, wanting to know about the weekend. She rings every Monday and Thursday evening. He can call her when he gets in. He’s not usually this late, perhaps there is a problem with the bus. Geoff catches the 43b from the stop just three doors down from Mr Pritchard’s. It takes him all the way to work. On Saturday he gets the 48, the other way to Asda.
It’s Tuesday, so Pete will be coming. He works with my Geoff in the office. They man the phones, talking to people they don’t know. Geoff says people ring with inane questions and queries wanting to know the price of this and the price of that. He says why don’t they look on the web it’s all right there, easy to find. I hope my Geoff has remembered to buy those biscuits Pete likes. I like Pete, he is always very careful with his biscuits, he never gets crumbs on me. Not like some people I could mention.
That’s the front door. Geoff didn’t say hello. Geoff always says hello.
“Well dear, you’ll get another job, I am sure.” It’s Geoff’s mother, she’s come over. She has her gin and tonic so she’ll be staying for a while.
“There’s a recession mum. It’s not going to be easy. I’ve been at Dakers for thirty years”
“Well they had to move with the times, I suppose, people shop on the interweb now, don’t they. Didn’t need you and Pete in the office answering questions. ”
“They said cost cutting, rationalisation. We’ve been replaced by an automated message telling people to refer to the company website.”
“Well there you are dear. It’s the interweb. It’s a pity you didn’t stick at those driving lessons. Got any more gin dear?”
It’s been a month. Pete and Colin are over. Geoff’s opened the glass doors between the front and back rooms to give them more space. They’re playing cards and drinking beer. Poor Celeste, Colin has just put his empty beer can on her deck. She won’t like that.
“How are you getting on with your new job Pete?” Geoff asks.
“Oh ok. I’ve got the hang of driving the fork-lift now and the lads in the warehouse are ok. It’s not the same but it’s ok, mate.” Pete picks at a piece of loose thread on his tank-top. “Shall I go and get some chips?” he asks.
“No, let’s order a curry. What’s everyone want?” Colin pulls out his phone. “Got this app, with the menu and everything, so what’s everyone having?”
Dirty plates and discarded metal containers litter the floor.
“This car of yours Geoff.” Colin has a can in one hand and half eaten poppadum in the other. He levers himself out of the chair and comes towards me. He’s flailing his arms all over the place. I wish Geoff hadn’t opened the glass doors.
“Colin, look what you’ve done, you’ve spilt beer on my car.”
“Oh, diddums dumdum, I know what I’ll do, I’ll wipe it off. I’ll just get in and …”
“No Colin don’t get into her, no not on her leather seats, no.”
He is wiggling his skinny bottom on my seat, on my Geoff’s seat. He’s dropping poppadum bits in my foot well. Oh no.
“Colin get out of my car.” Too late.
He’s sick over the passenger seat.
The smell lingers for days.
Now my Geoff has plenty of time for me. We have a routine. Every day he dusts my paintwork and cleans my windscreen. Once a week he polishes the chrome around my lights. He calls these my eyes. And my bonnet my breasts. He likes to caress them with the cloth his mother gave him for Christmas. There’s a ‘D’ in one corner. It’s just for buffing my bonnet. My Geoff doesn’t wash any of my cloths in the washing machine. He does them all by hand with Lux soap flakes and then dries them over the bath. He told me yesterday he’s going to order a new liquid polish from the catalogue to use once a month. When Geoff’s finished dusting and polishing we have some private time together. He likes to sit on my leather seats and run his hand around the steering wheel. First his left hand and then his right hand. And finally he takes a small silk hankie and rubs the top of my gear stick. It is always the last thing he does.
Geoff has joined a new evening class. He goes out every Wednesday night. He has a shower and puts on a clean shirt. This evening class isn’t like his clock repair class on a Thursday. When he goes to clock repair he takes a tool box. On a Wednesday he doesn’t take a bag at all.
The glass doors between the front and back room between Celeste and I are open. I can see right through the window into the back garden. Geoff’s been out there all morning, hammering, banging and sawing. Celeste’s all smug, puffed out her sails. She says it’s a shed and I am being dismantled and moved into it. My Geoff wouldn’t do that – I’m his creation. From the moment I arrived disjointed and disassembled I knew he was the one to make me whole. The hours we spent together in the front room. Him pouring over the manual, me patiently waiting for the next part to be added. Growing piece by piece. Finally emerging as a magnificent two-seater red sports car with vintage style headlights and a crash-bar going right across from right to left in shiny chrome. Celeste is not being moved. She is being allowed to stay. I don’t see why I can’t stay. I’m as much a part of Geoff’s life as she is.
Geoff’s brought a woman home. She is all loud and curvaceous, wearing gold jewellery round her neck and large rings on her hands. Oh god she is shoving my Geoff across the room. He’s falling towards me, he’s against my bonnet. She is pushing up his shirt. There goes a button, it’s rolled under me. I can feel Geoff’s bare skin on my red gloss paintwork. He’s all sweaty, he’s sliding down my bonnet. She’s pushing him back up. His head just knocked against my windscreen.
“What are you doing Janice? My buckle will scratch the paintwork.”
She doesn’t care, she’s in too much of a hurry to undo his trousers and get her hand down his Y-fronts. There’s a little moan from Geoff.
“I knew you wanted it”
Janice is hitching up her skirt. She’s climbing on top of Geoff. She is moving up and down. “Oh touch me Geoff, touch me down there.” I buckle under the weight of them both. There’s a loud cracking sound and Janice lurches to the right.
“Get off, get off.” Geoff is yelling now.
Janice is standing by the sofa, her lipstick smudged.
“You led me on, all you’re interested in is her. What can she give you, she’s cold, has no feelings. Look at her. She’s just a car. A car with a socking great dent in it. I don’t know what you see in her. She’s nothing more than a little red tart.”
At least I don’t have my knickers around my ankles. She looks ridiculous. She gets her heel caught pulling them back up and topples towards me. Putting her hand out to steady herself. Geoff doesn’t see her dig the ring in along my left wing. I want to cry out but I can’t.
“Please leave Janice.”
“Oh I am going, I’d ask for a lift but what’s the use, your little red tart here doesn’t go anywhere, just like her owner.”
It’s taken two months to repair the damage inflicted by the Janice affair. He doesn’t talk about it. Not to anyone. The shed is all fitted out as a workshop for Geoff’s new hobby, wood carving. There’s been no more talk of moving me in. Pete is coming round this evening. We don’t see Colin anymore. The glass doors between the front and back rooms are left open most days. I sometimes chat to Celeste. Geoff and I still have our private time. I always know when it is going to be. He shuts the glass doors and draws the curtains. I thought you would like to know, he has bought a new silk hankie off the internet.