Flash fiction—At the Shop

“Look lady—“

I was furious, “Don’t look lady me! You’ve had my car all day you can’t say what’s making that damn noise?”

The mechanic took a breath, “I’m saying I can’t duplicate it. I can’t fix something I can’t find.”

I looked at him. He had a rag in his right hand and a flashlight in the left. His name patch said “Walt.” He eyed me carefully. I had the feeling he was trying to get me to leave. It was almost closing time, everyone in the building wanted to be somewhere else. Including myself. “Seriously? You just don’t want start on at this hour.”

He blinked, and I could see the tips of his ears starting to turn red. “What? No. I mean…finding a noise takes time. You could leave the car overnight.”

I rocked back on my heels. I needed my car. Leaving it overnight wasn’t an option. “Really? You’ve just had it all day. I want you find the noise. Something doesn’t sound right.”

“We could test drive it again. But you’ll have to go with me. I don’t hear it.” He shrugged.

I took a breath, “Okay. But I drive.” He rolled his eyes and handed me the keys. I opened the door as he came around with a paper floor mat for the passenger side I caught his eye, “Thanks Walt. I’m Sue.”

He nodded and pointed towards the street, “Take that exit, then go around by the mall, they got speed bumps over there.”

As we came up on the first speed bump, I angled the car to the left going over it. The front wheels went over with nothing but a little creak from the springs. As the right rear wheel started up the bump a muffled thud came from the rear of the car. I smacked the steering wheel, “See! There! That’s it.”

“Now I hear it. I didn’t go over at an angle. Sorry.” He looked genuinely embarrassed, and my anger evaporated.

“Go over the next one, but angle the other way,” he said, pointing at the next bump. We did, and the car stayed quiet. “Let’s go back to the shop and see I can find something before dinner. Otherwise you’ll have to bring it back.”

I got out on the service drive and let him take the car into the shop. I took his advice and got some coffee. It was a bitter, cheap brew, probably bought in bulk. But it had caffeine and that made it liquid gold. I sipped from the foam cup as I paced the waiting room.

About ten minutes later Walt stuck his head around the corner, “Hey Sue? Could you come look at this?”

“Um, okay.” He seemed concerned and I wondered why he wanted me to come in the shop.

The car was on a lift, the right-rear wheel off, and the trunk and doors were open. The rear seat cushion was lying across the roof. “We started with the easy stuff. The wheel and suspension look okay, and there’s nothing loose behind the trunk liner. My apprentice pulled the seat out. You recognize this?” He was pointing a black box the size of a DVD case. A single LED flashed red and green. There was a short rubber antenna attached to one corner. “The antenna is hitting the body. That’s your noise.”

I felt the color drain from my face. “Shit.”

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