Bob knew all the sayings about taking what you were given and gift horses, and all of that, but he wasn't a fool. "Is that technically your job?"
Gabe smiled. "What the hell, right? Any friend of Matt's."
Bob thought it might be the better part of valor not to explain that in fact, Matt was just his boyfriend's parole officer. Technically, Bob and he had never met. As a parole officer, Gabe was a little...special. "What kind of job?"
"Yeah, listen, I'm gonna go with you for the interview, because it'd be better if you didn't fuck it up."
"Oh, I mean, not that you don't know what you're talking about and everything, just Vicky and I have known each other forever, and sometimes she gets suspicious of my motives, you know?"
Bob bit back on the urge to say, "I can't imagine." Instead he asked, "So, I don't get to know I might be doing?"
"It's a surprise," Gabe said, rolling his eyes and then grinning in a way that scared Bob more than anything in prison had ever been able to.
Vicky, as it turned out, was the owner of the Starship Garage, which straddled the neighborhood Bob and Gerard lived in and a slightly more upscale part of the city. Gabe seemed convinced that she was smoking hot. Bob guessed he could see it, if you were into that sort of thing. What Vicky definitely was--that had Bob three-fourths of the way to in love with her--was a complete genius with cars. Ten seconds into the interview and Vicky told Gabe, "Get the hell out, this guy knows how to talk to a woman."
Gabe pouted. Vicky said, "Go flirt with my new accountant. He actually likes you."
Gabe perked up. "The tall one who does funny accents?"
"Mostly I use him for balancing my books," Vicky said.
"No sense of adventure," Gabe said, with a very solemn sense of the tragedy of the whole affair and went off to go bug the accountant guy.
Vicky smirked when he was gone. She told Bob, "You get used to him. Then you sort of get to liking him."
Despite himself, Bob could see it. She said, "You were in for GTA?"
Bob nodded. No sense in lying. She asked, "What reason do I have to believe you won't do it again?"
"I have a good reason to stay out."
"Good enough that if a, say, 'Vette comes in here--"
"I was just the ring's mechanic. I like playing with cars. And yeah, I'd like my own." Bob stopped, unsure if he should really talk about anything personal in the interview.
Vicky tilted her head. "But?"
Bob shrugged. "I want something I can make mine." Something that needs me.
"You have an interesting way of looking at things, Bob Bryar."
Bob decided he couldn't lose anything by telling her. "I'll do a good job. A great job. I'm good at this, and I like it, and I don't want to go back."
"If you fuck me over, not even Gabe's affection will be enough to save you."
Bob sort of believed her. She said, "Any questions?"
Despite the fact that it was none of his business, he asked, "Why Starship?"
"Wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up."
"Oh," Bob said.
"I don't have 20/20 vision."
"It's okay, I don't think I'd be all that awesome at peeing without gravity, if we're being completely honest here."
"You're going to fix cars?" Gerard asked, sitting on the counter of the art store, eating the dinner Bob had brought for him. Bob had looked at Fabio, but he'd just asked to have one of Gerard's fries. Gerard had handed them over for Fabio to take as many as he wanted. Gerard kicked his legs back and forth and grinned. "Maybe Jags," he said softly.
Bob hooked a finger in the leather cord of Gerard's necklace. "Maybe."
"Gonna find one you love more?"
Bob wouldn't have even taken the question seriously, except that Gerard asked it while his mouth was full, looking down at his knees. Bob said, "Never," simple and plain and as much of a declaration as he knew how to make.
Gerard gazed up at him without actually looking at him. He smiled a little and offered up his milkshake. "Sip?"
Bob said, "You first." Gerard took one and when he offered the cup back up, Bob tasted Gerard's tongue instead.
Fabio called, "Keep it up. Customers love a good porno."
Gerard laughed into Bob's mouth.
Mikey's fine. He eats at least twice a day and Gerard sleeps with him once a week to make sure he's sleeping. We're taking good care of him
Jon's (Jon's the PR one who took him to the hospital back when he got sick) got a crush on him. You shouldn't worry about it, though, because Matt (Mikey's parole officer, the one with the ink, but not Brian, who's his boss, Brian dates Spencer, the young one) has a crush on Jon and Jon's a good guy. Mikey doesn't even know, as far as I can tell. He's kind of blind to other people. He talks about you a lot. (To Jon, sometimes. Jon just listens and doesn't interrupt.) You'd like him, I think.
I got a job at a garage run by a woman who could eat you whole. Her name's Vicky. I'll introduce you when you need a car again.
Tell Zack hi. Bob
Vicky could build a car out of chewing gum and eat tiny men whole, but what she couldn't do, even just a little, was keep her own books. For that she had Ryland, who wasn't so tiny, but well-trained by Vicky, nonetheless. Ryland was her accountant, and, when the phone rang and he was nearest--which was actually a lot, since Bob and Vicky were usually fixing cars--her receptionist. Letting Ryland answer the phone was fine and all, so long as their customers didn't mind the fact that he answered with a different accent every single time. The British one was pretty okay, and the Australian one and even the German one was understandable, but the Indian one tended to make Vicky throw spanners at Ryland's head.
Bob couldn't lie. He was concerned one of these days one was going to hit the guy, and Bob was going to take the fall. Also, he liked Ryland. Ryland asked a lot of questions but he was good natured when Bob's answers were short, or when he simply didn't answer at all. Also, when Bob asked if he would help Mikey with his stats class, Ryland said, "Sure, when is he free?"
Mikey offered to pay him and Ryland said, "I only take mint chocolate chip or orange sherbert. Not both at the same time. No cash, no credit cards, and definitely no checks." And when Mikey provided the goods, Ryland shared.
Mikey's favorite ice cream is black raspberry.
Matt should find out what kind of candy Jon likes. Trust me. It worked for Ryan. And Spencer. And someone else I know.
I would talk about him, too. I would.