wordwhacker: (NaNo 2002)
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Written for Prompt 168: Every Tom, Dick and (insert name here) over at [livejournal.com profile] tamingthemuse.

Phew - this has been a busy week. I'm still plugging away at the script, and it's going to be another few days at least, but it's coming. (I'm a slower script writer than I thought. Go figure.) Since there haven't been any prompts lately at [livejournal.com profile] 15_minute_fic, I'm kind of glad to devote my weekly [livejournal.com profile] tamingthemuse story to something a little less structured. Focusing on description and imagery here, trying to build a story that way.


A Eulogy in Parked Cars (flash, 537 words)


I was away at college when they closed the old service station down the street from my house. Mom told me off-handedly in an email, an oversight of information wedged in between news of my brother’s break-up and the recipe for Chicken Bake Sam that I’d asked her for the week before. She wasn’t much into writing - it took her days to compose a letter to her satisfaction - so she squeezed in as much info as she could. Evidently she didn’t think that the news of Chase’s closing was that far outside of the norm.

And it wasn’t, really. Larry Chase had been running it since before I was born, and as the neighborhood rose up around it the grey two-car garage grew more and more awkward, a remnant of times past. It hunkered down between a new brick apartment building with crisp white trim and a physical therapy center, a great round building with arched windows like surprised eyes.

“They had a barbeque on the last day it was open,” she wrote. “They were waiting for the tanks to get empty. Too expensive to replace them. So sad to see the signs all taken down. Every Tom, Dick and Larry used to get his car fixed there.”

Chase had been my first boss, when I was fifteen and horny for work. He wasn’t sure about employing a girl to fill tanks but he knew my folks, religious customers since they moved there when I was three. I liked the smell of gas, the round stingy smell that snaked its way into the back parts of my brain, and I liked the work. Chase was a loud, growly teddy bear. He loved cars and the way they worked, and it was impossible to work with him and not learn to love them too.

“You’re in good shape,” he said from under the hood of my little ’92 Mazda Miata, my much beloved first car which I steadfastly refused to call a lemon. Chase had replaced a suspicious number of parts in the two years I’d owned it. He never charged me much, maybe because he knew I’d bought it with the money I earned working for him. His strange, fatherly connection was about to be broken because I’d decided to drive across the country to get to university instead of fly like a civilized person.

He extracted himself and popped the hood closed. “You ever need anything, just give me a call.” I wasn’t about to call him from Vancouver for car problems, but I thanked him anyway. I filled the tank and checked the pressure on the tires, and navigated my way out of the packed parking lot for the last time.

Now, six thousand kilometers away, it sits like a dead, grey island in a pool of cracked and stained cement. The slim, windowless doors on the sides are locked, once perpetually wedged open to admit air and sounds of traffic and boys in jumpsuits. The pumps and cars, the price signs, and the faded red Chase’s sign above the bay doors are gone, and through the big windows to the office there sits an empty desk and a big, stopped clock.
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