Sergio was a bit of an enigma. There was a persistent rumor going around that he was an undercover cop who was brought on to make drug arrests on the shift. I always dismissed this, because I figured that cops had much more important things to do than stop Wal-Mart employees from hoovering meth, like having sex with prostitutes and giving parking tickets. He styled himself as a pretty typical Southwest Phoenix hispanic. Part drug dealer, part lothario, but in reality he was an overnight worker at Wal-mart and had a kid with his live in girlfriend who he babysat all day.
One night, on first break, he was walking out to his car with two gallon jugs of water in his hands, and I asked him what he was doing. “Going to go pop my trunk, somebody talkin’ shit” he said, I corrected that I was talking about the water jugs. He told me that his car had started leaking coolant pretty badly the other day and that he had to fill it up essentially every time he wanted to drive it. He had tried a couple bottles of stop leak, but it was obvious to me that no amount of pepper or aluminum was going to fix what the problem was. While he fiddled around in the trunk with something, I reached down into the guts of the Lincoln and felt the telltale signs of a freeze plug having bit the farm. Not sure why, but it felt like it had corroded. He nodded his head and then thanked me, squealing out of the parking lot off to do whatever corrections he felt necessary to his reputation.
The next time we worked together, end of shift saw him doing the duckwalk out with even more bottles of water, and he waved me over, and asked me if I would replace the freeze plug for him. I told him I’d see what I could do. Little did I realize that he meant… right now. We drove off to his place where he disappeared inside to wake his son up. The four or five year old toddled, bleary eyed out into the carport to deliver me a couple “scoobies”, Sergio’s pet name for a bottle of beer. I poked around in the guts of his car for a bit, pretty much coming to the conclusion there was no way I could get a proper freeze plug installed without removing the front suspension. I figured one of those emergency/STOP branded temporary freeze plugs would do it, so we filled up a couple more jugs, put the kid back in his room, and wandered out into the big world a bit drunker.
When we arrived at the parts store, it was immediately obvious that Sergio had worked here at some point. Everyone knew him, he walked up and started chatting up the girl behind the counter. We wandered out with the $3 part in hand and headed over to the 7-11 to pick up some more beer. I was kind of bleary eyed and blinking in the sun at this point, I hadn’t been up this late in months. And that’s when… the hoochie shows up.
Like a form of ghetto spontaneous parthenogenesis, Sergio’s presence could cause skanky women to ooze out of previously unseen cracks in reality. We were standing out front with a case of beer and suddenly this girl shows up. Full of 2001 style sexy. Low slung jeans exposing her stretch mark covered belly, tank top which reads “baby girl” in pink sparkle. Enough eye makeup to make RuPaul cluck in judgment. And he just turns to her and goes “Hey, you remember me from that party?” – Not five minutes later, she’s in the Lincoln with us, headed back to his house, while the two of them exchange wild memories of this party they were at.
His kid continued to bring me beers on a semiregular basis as I drove the old freeze plug into the block and installed the emergency replacement, all the while listening to the sounds of cheap bedsprings being fatigued and telltale moans of exertion. I finished up the job and drank a victory beer while playing Xbox with the toddler. Serj returned from the back room showered and wearing little more than boxer shorts.
On the car ride home, he admitted that he was at no such party, he wasn’t even sure what the girls name was, even now. He had to call her “baby girl” the whole time.
I finally got home, drunk, hot, tired, greasy, and laid down next to my dog to sleep.