Oncoming Traffic

Oncoming Traffic

That woman’s going to run her car into the ground. I tell her she could save time, money, and aggravation if she’d just take it easy. She doesn’t strike me as someone who listens, so, until that happens, I’ll fix it. I just hate taking money from people when it’s a self-generated problem. It’s not because she’s a woman. Don’t take me down that road, I know plenty of good female drivers. She’s not one of them. I call her The Off-Roader, but she doesn’t know. She tells me I’m sweet. My ex used to call me sweet when she wanted something. There are two things I can’t stand. Shoveling snow and being called sweet. I hate the last one more, but it’s not so bad in this weather. And it’s not so bad when the right woman says it and all you did was get her a bottle of water.



I don’t hold anything against people, unless they come at me wrong. I will up the price of an invoice if someone expects special treatment. The guys from the studios with German cars are the worst. They think they can snap their fingers and get their car back in two hours. I don’t work that way. I told one guy to get the hell out. The Off-Roader was here that day. I think it was her suspension that time. The guy started running his mouth and I told him to get off my lot. He kept going and I said, This isn’t a goddam dealership. You want it done in two hours? Take it over there. You want it done right, you wait for my phone call. The guy’s face looked like the inside of a gutted salmon. He spat on the ground on his way out. The Off-Roader came out of the lounge, well—she peeked around the corner. I told her the coast was clear. She pointed at me with her sunglasses and said, He shouldn’t have messed with you. I smiled and couldn’t stop smiling, for some reason. Then I got it together and said, Let me grab your paperwork.



I gave her the total and she said, This can’t be right. How come it’s so much lower than the quote? I smiled and I said, ‘Cuz, I’m not a goddam dealership. She smiled, too, and it made me glad I moved all the way out here. Then I fucked everything up and said, Now you just need to learn how to drive. Her face—her eyes—-I don’t know how to describe it—made me want to walk into oncoming traffic. She looked down and it took awhile for her to say something. Then she covered her eyes with her glasses and said, Give me the real number. I said, That IS the real number. And she said, No. The one for bad drivers. That’s the last time I saw her.


About the Author

Darlene Eliot lives in California. Her work has appeared in Bellingham Review, Heavy Feather Review, Cleaver, New Flash Fiction Review, and elsewhere.


Photo by Aarron Norcott on Unsplash