Short Story: The Garage

There are times when no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to do anything right. For Miranda, those times came often. It was always something. She tried, oh how she tried to do right, but it never failed. She would always do something stupid and her husband, Bruce, would get mad.

She had done something stupid.

She hadn’t paid attention in a while, and her van was way past due for an oil change. Bruce was going to be so angry. Miranda didn’t want him to be angry.

When he had come home he had mentioned he was out getting serviced. A moment later, Miranda had remembered her van. But he was on the phone. She didn’t want to eavesdrop, but if she didn’t talk to him as soon as he was off again, she might forget about the van. She knew there would be hell to pay if she interrupted. There was always hell to pay.

She knew she was doing wrong, but sometimes you had to do wrong to do right.

“Yeah the ball and chain tried to give me some shit about being out late,” Bruce said. Miranda wrinkled her face in anger at his words, but she didn’t dare say anything.

Bruce paused for a moment and said, “I told her truth, I was out getting a lube job. It takes time to do it right, ya know. I went to that place over on Elm Street. Yeah, the one with the red doors.”

Bruce spoke again, “Shit man, it costs more but it’s worth it. Very thorough.”

He went silent as the person on the other end spoke. Then Bruce said, “If your wife wants to go, sure man. My wife doesn’t really do that kind of stuff. She’s worthless.”

Miranda felt a pain in her stomach at his words, but she knew he was right.

She felt guilty. She did make him take care of too much. But not anymore, she was a grown woman. She could do it herself. She wouldn’t even mention it to him, no sense getting him worked up.

Miranda hadn’t realized it was going to be a private residence, but it was the only building on Elm with red doors. There was a two-car garage though, so that was probably where the guy did the work.

Miranda almost turned around, but no. She was going to be brave. She was going to be a better wife. She wasn’t going to make Bruce angry anymore.

She pulled into the driveway.

No one greeted her, so she walked to the front entry and rang the bell.

A beautiful woman opened the door. She was only wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top, but Miranda was stunned by her radiance.

“Can I help you?” the woman asked.

“Uh. I dunno,” Miranda asked in a confused voice. “Maybe. I think I might be in the wrong place.”

The woman smiled, “Don’t worry, I think you’re in the right place.”

“My husband was here yesterday, and he recommended it.”

“Bruce? He gave me the impression that I would never meet you.”

“Well, he couldn’t stop talking about what a good job you did. And then he was complaining about how he always had to take care of things for me.”

The woman smiled again. Miranda couldn’t help but be distracted by her mouth. The woman said, “And so you decided that you’d let me take care of things instead?”

“I mean… if you can? I don’t know how busy you are or whatever.”

“Oh no, I don’t have any appointments today. I don’t get many women in here normally. I’m Ashley by the way.”

“Nice to meet you, I’m Miranda.”

Miranda did find it strange that a woman did oil changes, but she wasn’t going to say anything. In fact, she thought it was awesome. She figured Ashley’s looks were the real reason Bruce came here, but that was fine. He deserved to look at this goddess instead of her frumpy self.

Ashley looked Miranda over and said, “Why don’t you come on in. It’s hot out today and you’re standing there in long sleeves.”

A flash of fear crossed Miranda’s face for a moment, “Oh, I just get cold is all.”

“Nonsense, you’re sweating. Come in.”

Miranda looked at the house around her and nodded approvingly. “I love your house. It’s so much nicer than ours.”

“Oh, really? I would have thought with the Mercedez…?”

“Bruce always says money is too tight to fix up the place.”

“Really? You know my services aren’t cheap. Hmmm…well I tell you what…” Ashley looked Miranda over, “…why don’t I just waive the fee today?”

“What? No! At least let me pay for any oil you use.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. I buy it in bulk so it’s really just pennies. Plus I think we’ll both have a lot of fun together today.”

“You find it fun?” Miranda didn’t see how changing oil could be fun.

“Not always. But it can be with the right person.”

“I always just thought it was a lot of work. Oil gets all over the place. You have to climb underneath and probably end up hurting your back. I don’t know. That’s what Bruce says anyway, that’s why he never wants to do it himself.”

“Oh honey, I’m so sorry. Some men really don’t know what they’re doing. And trust me, Bruce is an idiot when it comes to this stuff.”

Miranda didn’t really know what to say to that, so she went with, “So…do you have somewhere I can sit while you take care of things?”

Ashley grinned, “Eager to get started? Well, some people like the living room or even the kitchen. A few prefer the library, but most-”

“Wait, you have a library?” Miranda interrupted excitedly. “Can I see?”

“Big reader?” Ashley asked.

“Not as much as I would like. Not much time with work and all the chores and cooking. Bruce is always yelling for me to do something. He says reading is a waste of time.”

“Bruce is a waste of time.”

Ashley took Miranda’s hand and led her through the house into a room filled to the brim with books. The shelves were overflowing. Books were lined up in front of each other, stacked on top of shelves, and jammed anywhere there was space.

“Oh wow, this is amazing. I would literally kill to have a room like this.” Miranda noticed that Ashley was still holding her hand, but it didn’t bother her. In fact, she kind of liked it.

Ashley said, “Feel free to look at the books. You can even read something while I’m working if you want.”

Miranda’s face lit up, “You wouldn’t mind?”

“No, I wouldn’t mind. Today is for you. Can I be honest though?”

“Of course.”

“I feel like you and I could become close. Do you feel that way too?”

“I do honestly,” Miranda blushed a little. “I don’t know what it is, but I definitely do.”

“Good. So how about this…today we just talk and take our time with everything. You can always come back.”

Miranda agreed, “Okay. So should we go to the garage or something?”

“If that’s what you want. I just want you to feel good about everything.” Ashley looked at where their hands were still connected, “Oh, Miranda! Did Bruce do this?”

Miranda didn’t have to look at the bruise on her arm to know what Ashley was referring to. She gave a brief, embarrassed nod and asked, “Can we just go to the garage?”

“Okay,” Ashley smiled. “Nobody ever goes in there.”

“Really? Seems like people would be in there all the time.” Miranda said with a quizzical look on her face.

Ashley froze, “Miranda. What is it you think I do here?”

—-

The officer stood under the overhang facing a sobbing Miranda.

“I’m sorry ma’am but dental records confirm the body is your husbands. We think he might have been drinking and drove off the road. He probably died on impact, he wouldn’t have been in pain very long. I’m truly sorry for your loss.”

The officer walked back to his car with his head bowed and threw it in reverse.

As he drove away, Miranda stopped crying and said, “Actually officer, he was in pain for quite a while. But don’t worry my new girlfriend helped me clean up.”

“In my line of work you get used to dealing with messes,” Ashley said.

Miranda didn’t feel guilty. She had always felt guilty before. But Ashley made her see that the only person doing wrong in her relationship was Bruce. And maybe what they had done to him was wrong, but sometimes you had to do wrong to do right. At least Bruce wouldn’t be getting angry ever again.

Miranda looked Ashley in the eyes and said, “Lucky thing you had all those handcuffs, gags, and rubber sheets. I’m just sorry we still got so much blood in your garage.”

“First of all, it’s our garage now. But don’t worry, nobody ever goes in there.”

Short Story: A Day on the River

It was early morning on the Oconee River, the type of day that was perfect for fishing. A man and a woman sat in a canoe. They were holding fishing rods, but both were too distracted by all the alligators to make use of them.

“I’m not sure about this river anymore. It’s getting scary,” Missy said.

“I know. But don’t worry, they’re more scared of us than we are of them,” Jack said eyeing the long body drifting past. A bit of algae was growing on its side, and there were a couple of sticks hanging off, but it didn’t seem to care.

They waited until it was gone before speaking again.

“But they scare all the fish away. Or eat them,” Missy said.

“Nonsense, we still catch plenty,” Jack said. He sat still for a moment, “In fact, I’ve got a bite right now.”

A flurry of movement later and the fish was out of the water.

Missy was too distracted to care. She gasped and nodded her head, “There’s another one. And it’s got a baby with it!”

“Don’t get too close, they’re protective of their young.”

“You ever eaten any?” Missy asked.

“It tastes like chicken,” Jack half-joked. “But seriously, we don’t need to mess with them. They’re dangerous.”

“I’d climb a tree if they were after me.”

“Actually, it’s a little-known fact, but they can climb trees.”

Missy eyed the creatures warily, “Really?”

“Yeah. They don’t do it often, and it’s mostly the younger ones, but they can climb. Trees, fences, whatever.”

“Holy shit.”

“Holy shit is right. If any more kayakers come all us gators are gonna have to move.”

Short Story: Grocery Day

Mark grabbed a cup of coffee and skimmed Facebook. He wasn’t sure why he read it. He definitely wasn’t going to say amen about some sick kid he didn’t know.

He poured a bowl of cereal and grabbed the milk out of the fridge. He took the cap off and realized immediately he wasn’t having cereal today. The smell was so bad. He just bought the jug, but sometimes that’s how it was. Probably sat out somewhere and spoiled before I bought it. Fucking lazy assholes.

He’d have to make another shopping trip.

Fucking hell. Might as well get this shit over with.

The drive across town took longer than it should. But it always did. Fucking old people shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

He whipped into the parking lot and almost slammed into some fucking douchebag. Mark rolled down his window and yelled, “I’m parking here asshole!”

He backed his car into the parking space. Sure it was pointed in the wrong direction now, but it would be a bit easier to see when he pulled out. He’d be headed down the lane backward, but he’d be fine as long as there weren’t any morons in the parking lot.

Mark walked in the door and there were kids running and screaming. Why won’t these people control these little shits? And why does the milk have to be all the way in the back of the store?

Oh, and of course, this woman has to walk so slow. What is this, the fucking scenic route? And she’s taking up the whole aisle.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said loudly. “Some of us have places to be.”

The look on the elderly woman’s face was pure disgust, but she moved out of the way.

He finally managed to make it to the milk and hustled back to the front of the store.

Why are there never any lines open? And they move so slow it might as well be the DMV.

The line was stretched out into the middle of the store. And somehow, even though she was moving so slow earlier, I end up right behind that slow ass from before. She probably came over here right away to get in my way. Oh, and what the fuck, she has coupons.

Jesus boner-fucking Christ. This is going to take all day.

“Ma’am, I’ve only got this milk,” Mark said in a sweet voice. “Would you mind if I just hop in front of you?”

“Yes,” she said disdainfully. “I would mind.”

She turned back to her coupons. The line moved up a bit as someone at the front finished, but the woman stayed in place. And when someone else joined the queue after Mark, the old woman waved at them and told them they could go ahead of her.

They didn’t even spare Mark a glance and moved to their new place in line.

It seemed like hours passed, but finally, Mark managed to get his milk. The woman had let so many people in front of her it took forever.

He stepped outside and walked down the row towards his car.

A horn honked, and Mark leaped out of the way.

“What the hell are you doing backing into a parking place?!” Mark shouted. “Learn to drive!”

Fucking assholes.

Mark got into his car and drove home.

He always looked at Facebook in the mornings, but it just seemed so stupid. A bunch of people lying about how good their life is. A bunch of people falling for scams and fake news. Mark sipped his coffee and scrolled.

When he finished his coffee, he grabbed a bowl and poured himself some cereal. At least he had a brand new jug of milk.

It was sour.

What the actual fuck!? It was that damn woman’s fault for making me stand in line so long. Jesus everloving Christ. I can’t believe I’m gonna have to go through that shit again.

He wove through traffic and sped as best he could. He just wanted to be done with it all. If they would deliver groceries to his house he’d do it that way. But for some reason, even though his neighbor could get grocery delivery, Mark was outside of the delivery range.

He drove through the stop sign in the grocery store parking lot without slowing. Everyone knows you don’t have to stop at those things. You just make more problems if you do.

He spotted two empty parking spaces right near the front, so he parked in the middle so no one would hit his Porsche.

Oh god, not these people.

An elderly couple, on wheelchair carts, blocked most of the entrance. They stopped for a moment and talked to another customer. Oh my fucking god!

“What is this, a fucking funny car convention? Get out of the damn way. Please.”

They didn’t hurry, but eventually, Mark managed to squeeze by and make his way to the back of the store.

The milk cooler was empty.

Mark looked around and found an employee. “Could you check and see if there is any milk in the back? And make it quick, I’m in a hurry.”

“Sure thing, sir,” the kid said as he walked to the back, playing on his cellphone.

A few minutes later, he reappeared. “Is this what you wanted?”

He held up a carton to Mark.

“No, you idiot! That’s buttermilk. Just plain milk. A gallon or half. I don’t care if it’s regular, organic, or even lactose-free. I just want some fucking milk.”

“Okay, no problem.”

Another long wait culminated in the acquisition of a half gallon of skim milk. The worst of the milks. Except buttermilk obviously. But that’s not milk. That’s cow vomit.

The line at the front of the store went pretty smooth for a change. Mark got to the cashier in only a minute or two. He hadn’t seen her before. He would have definitely remembered.

“Hey, what time do you get off?” Mark asked the girl.

“I’m 17, grandpa,” the girl said as she swiped his milk.

“I’m only 35.”

“I’m still not interested. And it’s still not legal.”

“So when’s your birthday?”

She rolled her eyes as he inserted his credit card. God, I hate fucking chip cards. Why does it take longer than swiping?

Not happening,” she said.

“I just want to play an important role at your wedding,” Mark said with a cocky grin on his face.

“Sorry, my granddad will already be there.”

His payment was declined.

“No, there’s no way,” Mark said. “I drive a fucking Porsche. There’s money in my bank account. Let me run it again.”

The cashier obliged, and Mark reinserted his card.

It declined his payment again.

“Fucking hell. Let me call my bank right quick.”

“Maybe you need to sell your Porsche,” the cashier said.

Mark didn’t pay her any attention as he was busy listening to the menu options. He pressed zero to talk to a representative. And then he got the dreaded message, “We are experiencing higher than average call volume. Your estimated wait time is…one hour.”

“How is it higher than average?! It’s always this way! This is average wait time you stupid fucking machine!”

The girl behind the register gave Mark a look and gestured with her eyebrows that maybe he should leave.

He didn’t disagree. Fucking slut.

He’d have to drive to the bank and sort out his account issues. It would be quicker than dealing with this phone system.

He was going to have to come back to the store.

Mark clicked like on the hot blondes selfie. She was showing a bit more cleavage than normal, how could he not like it? He changed his mind and switched it to love instead.

He poured a bowl of cereal and then threw it across the room, scattering pieces all over the kitchen. Give the Roomba something to do. Fucking robots taking our jobs.

He still didn’t have any milk.

He was going to have to make another trip to the store.

He grabbed his keys and headed outside to his Porsche.

The fucking thing wouldn’t start.

WHAT THE FUCK

Mark saw an article titled “How Millenials are killing the Clickbait Industry” and clicked it. It turned out to be just one of those articles full of ads.

He didn’t even try to pour any cereal. It had taken all day for them to get the car fixed. He had tried getting an Uber but he couldn’t seem to find a driver. His rating was 3 out of 5, so he couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t pick him up. 2.5 is average, right? So 3 is better than average. People are so fucking stupid.

Traffic was backed up pretty bad on the way to the store. Probably some woman trying to drive.

All he wanted was a bowl of cereal. He normally ate cereal every day but it had been a while now. Was it really too much to ask?

He sat in traffic for what seemed like hours. An outside observer would note that it had been more like 10 minutes.

This shit is getting ridiculous.

It was like that movie with Bill Murray, Groundhog Day. Every day was the same thing. Well, almost the same thing.

Wait, what if this is fucking Groundhog Day? How did Bill Murray get out of that shit? Something with a modified photon torpedo? No that was something else.

Oh! He had to act like a better person and improve himself.

Shit, I’m screwed then.

Can’t get better if you’re already perfect.