Five Minute Fiction 93
Five Minute Fiction is an ongoing experiment. The goal: To write as much as I can in five minutes, letting the fingers do the work, then go back and clean it up. Written quickly, these aren’t perfect stories, composed on the spur of the moment with little forethought and limited writing time. Please consider these simple weekly exercises, with the singular hope that I don’t bore the reader.
Inside the garage was chaos.
Bill, the mechanic we pulled from the Brisbane office to help out with the increased workload, was screaming about spiders as he clutched his hand and kicked the restroom door shut. There was a fire in bay three, something large, heavy, and most likely expensive crashed to the ground in bay five, and Mike and Chuck were violently arguing about the need to prime the rear engine of a return, or let it be until the next customer was done with it.
“Damn idiots rent these things and don’t give a crap about ‘em,” Mike screamed, waving a 3/8 crescent wrench in the air like conductor winding up for an aria. “They rev the engines, grind the gears, and don’t give a shit about the paint job. And you want to wait until the next sucker gets his paws on it and hope it don’t break?!”
Mike was always the hothead, but he sure understood our customer base.
“Hey, kid!” I said, calling out to our new hire. The name badge on his stained overalls said ‘Steve’, but standing only five feet and baby-faced he looked more like a ‘Kid’ to me. “Get over here and help me with the filters on this return.”
“You got it, Chief,” the Kid said, trotting over to me as he wiped his greasy hands with an even greasier towel.
Lifting the bonnet, I made a mental note of the bent dip stick (something else to repair), and began unlatching the housing to the air filter. A second pair of hands joined me, the Kid’s, and together we disassembled the housing and removed two blackened air filters, ugly as sin, and tossed them into the recycle bin. “Say, Chief. What’s with all the screaming about spiders?” the Kid asked, eyeing the engine compartment, trying to act cool. Like he’s seen it all before.
“Dunno,” I said, “but sometimes customers take these babies to some strange places. Being rentals, they sometimes just don’t care about what they do with ‘em.”
“You’d think they’d act more civilized, Chief. What with all their money and status. Calling them ‘rentals’ seems so…I dunno. Uncouth.”
I smiled. “Now where’d you go and learn a word like that? You better be careful, Kid. Us lowly mechanics don’t care too highly for educated folk.”
“Hey, no worries Kid. Let’s take a break. I’ll spring for a soda.”
Passing the restroom I paused and rapped on the door. “Hey, Bill! You okay in there? Think you could watch over my bay for a minute?”
“Yeah,” came a muffled reply. “No sweat, Chief. Just injecting myself and anti-venom, same as always. Will be there in a minute.”
“Thanks, Bill!” I yelled in return, pushing the Kid out of the garage and closing the door behind us.
“Now, Kid,” I said, grabbing him by the shoulders and spinning him around. “I want you to take a good look at our sign. Tell me what you see.”
“Continuum Time Machine, LLC,” he said.
“No when too distant. No time too far.”
“That’s our motto, Kid. We’re just mechanics, but we work for the best. From the engineers, to the manufactures, to the salesmen and the garages. One company. One product. One goal. We’re the best, Kid. You’re lucky to be here.”
“Thanks, Chief,” the Kid said, looking sheepish as he kicked at an imaginary rock on the ground.
“Hey, don’t sweat it, Kid. You’re good people. I can tell. Now, come on, let’s go get that soda.”