Not An Easy Fix (Short Fiction)
“Are you awake?”
“Yeah, what’s up?” Bo leaned on his elbow in the darkness of his room, holding the phone to the side of his weary head. His clock glared 2:15 am.
“You’re not awake. I’ll let you go. Sorry.”
“No, no, no, I’m awake.” He wasn’t convinced himself he was awake, but the phone call was one that he couldn’t ignore.
“Have you ever felt lonely in a crowded room?” Kait spoke quiet on the other end, almost a whisper.
“Yeah, I have. Tell me what happened.”
There was a long moment of silence, usual for their 2 am phone calls.
“I should just go to sleep. Thanks for listening,” Another long silence. “Good night.”
Bo sat up, swung his legs off the bed and set his phone down. Kait’s contact picture was still smiling at him on the illuminated screen. It was a picture he took, a day at the zoo. Their relationship was easy then. He took a drink of warm, watered down Kool-aid from the glass on his nightstand, and then put the glass back down on the permanent red ring.
He laid his face in his hands and tried to figure out what she wanted. He wasn’t good at knowing what to do with her. She was complex, him, simple. The friendship turned to relationship after a drunken tryst in the room he rented above his uncle’s garage. The place embarrassed him, but she didn’t mention it that night, or ever. She also didn’t mention his stained jeans, or his habit of eating his dinner over the kitchen sink.
It was her promotion to branch manager and his embarrassment at the dinner with her boss that ended the six month romance, but the friendship remained.
He knew the feeling of lonely in a crowded room. He felt it when he went to her work parties and had little to say to the other men he was forced to talk to. They talked finance, banking, money, while he was making $12 per hour changing oil at the local Quickie Lube. It was a craft his father taught him as a boy. “That’s what men do, son. We fix things.” His father said, working under the hood of the family station wagon. Bo told Kait he felt stupid in front of her colleagues. She insisted that he wasn’t but he couldn’t shake the feeling and what should have been a minor bump in the road to a solid relationship, became the wedge that caused him first, then her, to retreat. They reconvened a few months later as friends.
Bo went to his closet and found a pair of clean jeans. They had stains but they didn’t stink with the hideous scent of hydraulic oil from rebuilding transmissions. Working on transmissions was better than changing oil but still a long way from his automotive passion. He felt a sense of pride actually fixing cars rather than just, “kicking the tires” at Quickie Lube. Transmissions were a new challenge. He understood hydraulic theory. The moving of objects using pressure and it wasn’t lost on him that it was a lot like his life. The pressure to be someone he wasn’t moved him away from Kait. He found a dingy t-shirt then slipped on his work boots, the laces dragging as he managed his way down the steps outside his uncle’s garage.
He passed only one car on the six mile drive to Kait’s new condo. She’d moved up in the bank hierarchy, again, and now drove a foreign car. Bo hated it, but still changed the oil for her every 3000. After he helped her move into the new condo Kait handed him a key, “In case something needs to be fixed and I’m not here.”
“But it’s a brand new condo. They’ll fix anything that’s wrong.” Bo gestured toward the management office of the condo complex.
“You never know.” She shrugged. He hadn’t used the key yet.
He pulled into her condo complex and parked next to her Audi. He lit a cigarette and thought about whether he was doing the right thing. The radio played low but he didn’t listen. It was almost 3 am when he slipped the key into her door and turned the lock. He half expected it not to work. When it came to Kait, his brain always slanted to the negative. Once inside he turned the deadbolt behind him and using only the heel of the opposite foot, removed his boots.
Light snuck past the blinds in her room and Bo smiled when he saw her sleeping in her usual way, on her back, both arms above her head. The old recliner she couldn’t bring herself to part with was in the corner where he put it when he helped her move the new furniture in. Bo sat down in the recliner and watched her sleep. He thought about the relationship with her that was. The sharing and the love. How she looked at him while having a drink with friends, or when they made love, her eyes filled with adornment. Her hands always found him, no matter the situation. She’d kneel next to him in the dark of his room and touch his legs and chest, her face filled with pleasure while giving him pleasure. He thought about the break-up, the pressure, and how immature his thinking was then.
At 5 am he slipped on his boots and stepped outside the condo. He dialed his boss.
“I won’t be in today, AJ. Sorry.”
“Everything ok? Did that piece of shit break down again?”
“No, it’s not my car this time. I need the day off to fix something else.”
As I’ve said before, I started this blog to share some writing and get feedback. So, leave a comment. What worked? What didn’t? Was the lack of character descriptions a problem? Please, I want to hear. Thank You.