We’re trying something new – CarStories, stories about your car. This week we have comedy writer Andrew Tavin with a story about a Toyota Corolla – the world’s best selling car. Like what you read? Stay tuned for future car stories featuring Bay-Area renaissance publisher Alexandra Naughton, columnist and translator Ann Manov, and more.
Esmeralda Guint sat in her office, scotch in her hand and a grimace on her face. She’d been in the detective business for seven years. Eight if you count the unpaid internship she took in her senior year. As far as her clients were concerned, she was the best there was.
Now if only she could find a romantic partner as reliable as her TOYOTA COROLLA.
Guint chuckled to herself. Comparing people to cars? That’s good stuff. That’s really good. The very notion is ridiculous. Cars have doors. People don’t. You need to have a license to drive a car, while Guint couldn’t even imagine what it would mean to “operate” a person. The more Guint thought about it, the harder she laughed. She laughed so hard, she fell out of her chair and under her desk.
It was at that moment she heard a knock at the door and immediately snapped up, banging her head. This was the fourth time that had happened this week. She needed to get back to her TOYOTA COROLLA and rest her injured head on the luxurious seat rest with heating-
She was jolted from her thoughts as the knocking on the door grew louder.
“Come in,” Guint said, a bruise forming on her dome almost as substantial as one the TOYOTA COROLLA’s eight airbags, which provide the sort of safety other automobile manufacturers can only dream of.
The door opened and in walked a man who Guint could tell had a past filled with dark memories.
Or maybe he was a clone who was created the day beforehand and had just been awakened directly outside her door, and this would be his first memory ever. Guint had long since learned you never know what to expect in this business.
“So, what brings you to my office,” asked Guint, as she squinted slightly, trying to hide the fact that her head was pounding from the bruise. She started to raise her hand to make sure she wasn’t bleeding, but stopped when she realized there wasn’t a subtle way to check that.
The gravelly sound of the man’s voice suggested he spent every morning gargling nails, as did the way he apologized after spitting a mouthful of bloody nails into a paper cup he had brought with him.
Gargling with nails seemed like an odd habit, but Guint knew that everyone had their vices, what with her scotch and the naps she liked to take on the luxurious seats of her TOYOTA COROLLA.
The man handed Guint a photograph of a French Bulldog Boxer mix. “I need you to find someone for me.”
“Is this your dog?”
“No, this is a photograph,” the man snapped back.
“But it’s a photograph of your dog, right?”
“OK, where did you last see him?”
“On my couch.”
“And when did he go missing?”
“Sprinkles is missing?!”
“Isn’t that who you wanted me to find?”
“No! I need you to find my sister.”
“They why did you show me your dog?”
“I showed you a photograph of my dog, and it’s because he’s a good boy and I want everyone to know.”
Guint sighed. It was clear that much like her previous car, which would constantly break down, before her current reliable TOYOTA COROLLA, this guy was nothing but trouble.
“Where was your sister last seen?”
“At the convent, off East Third Street.”
“Wait, you’re telling me your sister is a sister?”
“No, she’s a janitor. She just cleans the floors at the convent.”
Guint leaned back in her chair. “Sorry, but I can’t help you. I only take ironic cases.”
“I’m not actually sure that my sister being a sister would really count as irony though.” He took out his phone to Google it. “I’ll look it up, though if you’re using a loose definition, I’m sure I could think of something about her that would fit your broad definition of what irony could-”
“Too late. I’m about to close up for the day anyway,” Guint said, as she looked out the window, having long since decided that her conversation with the mysterious nail-gargling man was over.
“Ah, well I’ll just go to one of the other detective offices I passed in this building on the way to yours then,” he said with reservation as he left.
Guint continued to ignore him as he struggled with the doorknob for a full five minutes before figuring it out. She took an ice cube from her scotch glass and held it against the welt on her head. It had been five months since she’d taken a case, when a fisherman had been found dead on the docks with a hook in his mouth. It was good she’d worked out a reasonable payment plan for her TOYOTA COROLLA, or she’d really be in trouble!
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