Out of Tune

Out of Tune

by Dennis Thomas

Rod Glaser wiped a smear of grease from his chin.

He grimaced as he worked the de-greasing gel into his hands.  The gel had that ability of finding its way deep into all the small nicks in his fingers, the weird tingling feeling telling him that it was doing its job.  Mulling over his day’s work was a good way to forget the misery of de-greasing though.  Another batch of satisfied customers had driven away in their fully serviced and tuned-up cars.  He always enjoyed the sound of the over-the-top revs as owners drove away in their born-again racers.

Rod grinned to himself.

“It’s really funny how people enjoy the magic of a tune-up,” he thought to himself.  But it’s all so simple really – when you’ve got the knack!  All Rod could do with was a cold beer in the quiet of his office at the now deserted garage.  He dried his hands, pulled open the fridge door, and popped the ring pull on a Sam Adams.  Rod wasn’t much of a drinker, but the beer tasted perfect.  It had been a long day.  He lowered himself into his office chair and rested his feet on the litter bin.  His head fell backwards onto the headrest.  Peace.

The growl of a car engine drew his attention.  He glanced towards the still open entrance to the workshops.  He was about to shout out “Sorry!  Will have to be tomorrow!” when something made him hold off.  It was the car.  An Audi RS6.  Daytona grey.  0-60mph in 3.5 seconds, potential top speed 190mph.  And a very anonymous road machine.  No whale-tails; no go faster stripes.  Just power and anonymity.  A true wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Rod smiled.  He liked anonymity.  But it wasn’t in good shape; he could tell by simply listening.  The car engine was turned off; a man got out.  Rod waved and stepped into the workshop space.

“Hi, what can I do for you?”

“Hey, I thought you were closing up, sorry.  Just wondered if you could give this baby a service, a valet?  Y’know, the once over?”

“Nice car, mister.  But she sounds a little off colour?”

“Yeah, I guess I don’t look after her too well, do I?  Maybe a bit of engine tuning wouldn’t go amiss either.  Can you work on these?”

“Sure I can, got all the software tools, which is what matters these days, heh?  I can update the e-service log too; we’re accredited by Audi, so no problem.”

“Hey, that’s great.  Trouble is that I have to be away for four or five days from tonight.  Could I trouble you and leave it in your hands for that length of time?  I’d pay for storage and all – as well as the work, of course.”

The man laughed and coughed at the same time.

“That really wouldn’t be a problem, Mr…?”

“Oh…Loomis, Brad Loomis…sorry.”

“Well OK then, all we’d need do is sort out the paperwork and get you on your way, Mr Loomis.  Do you need a cab to get you where you’re going?”

“Oh please, make it Brad!  And no, thank you.  I’ll call up an Uber on this phone of mine; it’ll get me to the airport in plenty of time.”

“Well, let’s get these forms all filled in and take your credit card details and you’ll be all set to go…”

Rod waved to Brad Loomis as the Uber made its way off the forecourt.  Brad would be gone for five whole days, which was plenty of time to get this car tuned to perfection; in fact, tuned much better than the manufacturer’s figures.

-o-

Rod Glaser sat in the Audi RS6, parked in a side street; his hands set gently but firmly on the thick rim of the steering wheel.  The air-con was a welcome friend on a day like today; 30degrees plus on the outside, a comfortable 21 on the inside.  There was no radio playing in the car, nothing at all to distract him.  He just sat there, his foot on the gas pedal keeping the engine purring beautifully at just over tick-over revs.  Primed.

In the distance he heard the muffled sound of shouting and a couple of gunshots.  The next moment hands were ripping open both rear doors of the car; the heavy thuds of two men dropping into the dark Alcantra-leather seats, a large, bulging ruck-sack thrown between them.  Then, the roar of the perfectly tuned, twin-turbo V8 engine snarling fully into life, powering the exquisitely balanced four-wheel drive system and launching the car forward, reaching 60mph not in 3.5 seconds, but in just under 3.

Rod was pleased; he’d done some of his best work on this car, including the temporary whale tail, various spoilers, go-faster stripes and different plates.  Now he needed to deploy his other skill, as one of the most sought after get-away drivers in the state.  Just minutes later and he’d yet again proven his worth.  Another faultless get-away.

-o-

“Ah, Mr Loomis, nice to see you again.  Have a successful trip?”

“The best, Rod, the best.  Two new clients and very happy ones at that.  Hey, car’s looking swell; how’d she do on the tune-up?”

“Well, she was pretty out of tune so it took a bit longer than I first thought, but it’s all good.  Fully serviced too, and an in-and-out valeting.  If you’d be so kind as to sign off the bill, I’ll charge it all to your credit card.  Here are the keys, sir, she’s all yours and ready to go.”

“Excellent service, Rod, excellent.  I’ll certainly be recommending you.  Service like this is worth a million dollars!”

Rod laughed.

“Yep, Mr Loomis, you could be right about that.  Bye now!”

 

(c) Dennis Thomas 2020