"Car Trouble" - Your Story #42 Finalist

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"Car Trouble" - Your Story #42 Finalist

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:14 pm

Car Trouble

“I’ve got to get out of these clothes—fast,” says a mortician to a surgeon. “She forgot I’m allergic to laundry detergent. Again.” He pulls at his suit collar.

“Your maid?” asks the surgeon tying a white lab coat around his face. Only his eyes are left exposed.

“No, my wife,” replies the mortician. “I have a change of clothes in my car. Be back in a jiff, doc.”

“The name’s Jack,” says the surgeon.

Jack watches the man as he wiggles back to his hearse. In the driver’s seat sits a woman— the mortician’s wife. Her face is freckled and framed by tangled curls. Two months ago she came in by herself to the clinic where he volunteers. Under fluorescent lights she seemed sweeter. In the desert sun, her smile is icy and halfhearted.

“So how long have you been married?” Jack asks the returning mortician. His silver cross now rests on a plain white T-shirt. The mortician silently bends his face to the ground. From the back he looks headless. He stays like this.

Until Jack becomes bothered. “It’s not like I asked you who signed the Magna Carta.” His skin is hot and pulling at his patience.

The mortician finally looks up with a smirk that lifts only one side of his mouth. “Twelve years,” he replies.

“And she forgot that you’re allergic to laundry detergent?” asks Jack lifting the hood of his BMW.

He shrugs, tiring of small talk. “So, what seems to be the problem?” The mortician pokes around under the hood not waiting for an answer. Jack thinks of telling him, but before he can decide, the mortician’s hands begin to quiver. The wrench he clenches slaps against the battery, and the metal rhythm can be heard over the cicadas. He stands up from the bow he’d been taking under the hood in a manner that would suggest his upper body unexpectedly gained a hundred pounds.

The mortician chokes, “It’s actually… you’re a-… your ahhh-… your alternator.” He tries to hold a piece of the sky but his fluttering lashes get in the way. Jack does not assist the mortician, who looks like a purple-faced toddler who’s just learning that picked-off-the-floor pennies aren’t food. Jack feels sorry for him, but he is also sorry for himself. Even for Lenore, the mortician’s wife. She exits the car and stands next to Jack.

“It’s disgusting how weak we are,” whispers Jack.

The mortician lies on the cracked pavement in his blue jeans. Without an EpiPen, anaphylactic shock rocks his body under a sky carrying picture-perfect clouds. Jack and Lenore stare at the unsuspecting husband who’s meeting his detergent downfall in the desert. They stay like this.

Until Lenore breaks the silence. “I was thinking a pine coffin.” She takes the lab coat from Jack and ties it around her own face. The sand is picking up again. They take shelter in the BMW, and Jack hands Lenore his cell phone. Vultures circle over the sand-eaten road, just as the mortician’s body stops dancing.

“Please help! My husband is unconscious. We stopped to help a doctor with car trouble and…” Lenore continues to lie to the dispatcher.

Jack stops listening. Hearing a woman lie so well troubles him. He lights a cigarette and lays his surgeon steady hand on the exposed leg of the dead man’s wife. Lenore grips the steering wheel, giving him the 21st century “you shouldn’t smoke” look. Sin swims in her arresting stare. If you can’t get past those alluring eyes, you wouldn’t know it’s there.

Jack opens the door quickly to exhale and release the growing wrinkles upon her face.

“You’re right. It’s disgusting how weak we are,” he whispers, this time referring to himself. He lets the cigarette fly from his fingers.

Two vultures now stand on the mortician’s chest pecking at his head, denting it like a tin can. One gets an eyeball. Resembling an egg, the unobserving eye is tossed into the dusty air. Jack can’t help but to compare the hacking to surgery. Birds and surgeons, breaking skin all day.

The patrolling winds walk hand-in-hand with a dust devil in their direction. The surgeon closes his eyes and quietly shuts the car door before the sand scatters across the glass. He presses his smiling face to the tinted window. The desert cannot reach him.

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Re: "Car Trouble" - Your Story #42 Finalist

Postby zo-zo » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:06 am

Brilliant. Really enjoyed this.

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Re: "Car Trouble" - Your Story #42 Finalist

Postby mimi26 » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:42 pm

Very interesting. Story showed a natural evil twist

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