After long bouts of procrastination and work commitments, I finally finished up this week's flash fiction piece--initially prompted by me looking back at some of my older and messier works on here. I decided to revisit one of those characters (Russell) for a special, somewhat Valentine's Day-ish story. Enjoy!
The waiter placed a plate of scrambled eggs, sausage, and home-fries in front of Russell. He sniffed the streaming vapors, grabbed his fork, and went to work. There was no time to waste. He had a gig and he would be there. Once he arrived, he would get his notepad out and scribble from “hello” straight to the end, writing out the legend of a local rally car champion for his fellow motor-heads. Russell saw himself becoming more than a hero, but a figurehead amongst car mechanics. He saw the royalties, the fans surrounding his garage, the invites to auto shows across the world, the—
Russell heard a clink. He sat up from his plate and saw Warren holding his fork towards his glass. He sighed, “Aren’t you forgetting someone?”
“Me?” Russell moved the remaining sausage links into a cluster, “Nah!”
“Russ, I’m serious,” Warren rolled his eyes.
“Dude,” Russell bit off a link, swallowing the piece whole, “With a job like mine, I wait for no one.”
Russell tried to stab the stack again, but poked the placemat instead. He gazed at Warren gripping the plate with his fingers. Russell tried to pull it back, but Warren’s grasp did not break. He did not even flinch, even when Russell leaned towards him.
“Look,” Warren said, “You either wait for her or we leave you here. Your choice.”
Russell leaned back into his chair and shrugged, “Okay. Fine. You win this round.”
“Uh, no,” Warren slid the plate back, “I’m pretty sure I won the whole thing. Thank you very much.”
“But this is just the pit stop,” Russell placed the fork on the plate, “The final lap’s all mine, my friend.”
Warren groaned, “I’m only doing this because you fixed my car.”
Of course, Russell thought, he did not need Warren’s little Prius when something else from the garage could make the drive. Maybe that Volvo P1800 that he won from the auction. Possibly the Mitsubishi Lancer GT with the back doors missing. All they needed was a quick tune-up, some emissions tests, some parts, and Russell would make a bullet line towards his destination.
That was also the problem. Unlike his beloved Millenia, he stashed his two latest wheels in the garden shed out back. He had too many cars to fix ever since he started his mechanic shop. The time he wanted to spend ordering the brakes and engine parts for the Volvo he spent looking for shock absorbers and tires.
Then, there was Dana, who took the Millenia out for a road trip just to test out the new four-wheel drive and cloaking system. This left Russell without any chauffeurs made of steering wheels, engines, and fuel. Here he was with Warren who offered him a ride up to the dream come true, the begin-all-continue-all, that now turned out to be a continuous drag across the interstate. There were only so many country songs Russell could bear before he decided to go rouge and hitchhike.
It was then that Warren’s girlfriend, Josie, finally turned up at the table, grinning. Russell grabbed his fork, ready to slice the hash browns further. She pulled out a chair and plopped in next to Warren, “They just called!”
“And?” Warren perked up, “And?”
“I’m in! The main star! Me!”
Warren whooped and hugged her, saying how happy he was with a, “So proud! So proud!” Russell sighed and continued to eat. This would all be over. There would be the paycheck, which he promised to pay in full, then on with the ride. Instead, he heard Warren and Joise drone on about all the plays they watched together, the movies they binged through on Netflix for their one-year anniversary, their first date at her senior prom, and so on. Russell finished off the last of the scrambled eggs, leaving him with clean plate. This also left him with the constant smile and nod routine which he got used to during while stuck in a traffic jam with them.
Russell got up, “Be right back, guys.”
He went outside and looked at their car—a small, blue Corvette. He was so close to a chance to meet one of his legends wasted on a stop at some run-down diner. Russell sighed and hung his head low. It was over. He would be stranded, not in the parking lot, but at the theatre listening to a soliloquy. Actually, that would not be so bad. He could make Warren owe him yet another favor. If the play captivated him, Russell would give him a discount, but that was it.
Russell decided that would be the worst-case scenario and sent a message to his rallying inspiration about the slight delay. This was not a race to the finish, but an endurance run and Russell planned to last the longest out there.