Monday, 1 June 2009 - 10:52 pm

MacIntyre’s Car Yard

The problem with secrets is explaining them without giving them away.

If Matt and I have been spending more time together lately than usual, no-one has thought much of it. Dillon was puzzled about the new sleeping arrangements but he understands enough about safety in numbers not to question it. Thorpe has looked at us sideways but he won’t say anything. Masterson rolled his eyes once; he thinks we’re overreacting. I wish it was just paranoia.


There hasn’t been a lot of time to focus on it. The two sick Wolverines have been increasingly slowing us down, but we managed to cover some ground over the past couple of days. We reached the car yard just after midday today (we’re getting used to telling the time by the weird orange blob in the sky, tracking its passage behind the low-riding clouds).

The yard itself looks much the way it used to, just with a ruddy orange filter and looking like elves had been industriously scouring the shine off it. Everything looks tired and worn, even the newer cars. The smart convertibles on pedastals by the roadside are hollowed-out skeletons, their leather interiors devoured by the rain. The sign was unlit and rubbed down, switched off for the endless night. I can feel my mental image of the place tarnishing, and my memories feel to bright and clean to be real. As if they were the dreams sent to torture me and this is the reality I should remember.

My heart still lifted at the sight of it. I could feel my steps getting lighter when we passed the lopsided golden arches – they’d always been crooked – and the scorched signs offering last-minute holiday car washes by the gas station. And then there it was and I smiled.

Matt told me to go on ahead. He’s still limping and leans on me sometimes; I slip under his arm when he starts to look white around the mouth. But when we reached the edges of the yard’s skirt, he stood up straighter and nudged me forward. I didn’t need much encouragement: I took off across the lot, weaving around the cars and up to the office. The front door was open and inside still smelt of leather, polish, oil, and new car mats.

The store had been turned over – someone had torn through there. Racks pushed over, wares spilt across the floor. I’ve seen so many stores like that that it seems normal now, though it jarred seeing it there. This is why I never liked the idea of causing such a mess; someone might come home to it. I did my best to ignore it and move on, but it settled down in my chest in a hot knot.

I stuck my head into the garage out back, and it looked like it always did. There was a car up on the big jack, as if our mechanic Mike had just stepped out for a while. It wasn’t until I’d turned away from the door that I wondered if that car would ever come down off that jack. There was no power to work it now.

The office was much like the store, but fewer cans of premium oil and more paper everywhere. It was so white it looked like it had snowed, even in the slant of orange light from the window. I moved through it carefully, nudging this with my toe, standing up a chair. I thought about how Dad hated filing and that he’d go crazy if he ever saw this mess, caught myself starting to pick up strewn invoices, and abruptly wanted to cry.


Conroy was the first to find me. If it had been a Seeker, I probably would have broken down. Instead, I swallowed back the knot that was working its way up into my throat and gave him a smile, telling him I was fine. He came over and put his arm around me anyway, making sympathetic noises. There was something about the way he did it that made my skin want to crawl off my body and hide.

I pulled away from Conroy before I got the urge to chew someone’s arm off. Not far behind him was Dillon, coming to see what I’d found and if I was all right. A shake of my head answered the question that the kid was about to ask – there’s no-one here. My dad’s not here. I patted him on the shoulder for his worried expression.

“There’s no blood,” I told him. Whatever happened here, I don’t think it was a fight. It seemed important to notice it at that moment.


It didn’t really hit me until it started to grow dark. I’ve been here so many times at sunset, when the lights on the yard and in the sign rise up to meet the purple darkening the sky. Mike swearing out the back and my dad avoiding the paperwork with that one last customer who just might make a deal. Locking up the cars and rubbing the scuffs off the tyres where someone just had to kick them. Mrs Kowalski clicking her tongue as she did the filing, trying to make sense of the mess on Dad’s desk. Polishing the fingermarks off windows and bodywork until everyone’s had enough and we can all go home.

Home’s empty now. As empty and hollow as this place with its acid-etched convertibles. Dad’s gone and I don’t know where. So is Ben. We’re walking on eggshells with our own travelling companions and fighting off twisted versions of people.

Sitting at Dad’s crumpled desk, his chair squeaking in the way it always does, I stared at the pen he’s chewed almost in half. I could smell him in here and all of a sudden it all got on top of me. Even putting it here in the blog hasn’t helped.

I’m crying and I can’t do a damn thing about it. I don’t know how we got here.