Monte Carlo_Dominic Howarth

Monte Carlo 

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Her lipstick was still on the mug. 

“Goddammit!” Rolland shouted, watching as the red mixed with the black; the blood oozed from his sliced finger, blending with the grime and the gunk that coated his hands. He walked briskly to the bathroom sink.

 “Fucking catalytic converter,” he whispered to himself, turning on the faucet. He put his hands underneath the piping hot water and watched as the sink turned colors, a porcelain canvas of machine and man. “Last fucking thing to put in and my hand slips,” he said. The steam felt good on his face.

 He dried his hands off. His finger was still bleeding. He’d forgotten to buy band-aids, so he put pressure on the cut with the towel.

He wandered back into the garage and stared at the car: a 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. It was baby blue with a white leather interior. It had a 350 V8 four-barrel engine so loud that it had embarrassed Rolland to drive it as he got older.

 But the car had never ceased to thrill Annise. She would shimmy her shoulders in excitement and put her hand on his thigh when he put it in drive. She loved that car, and she had loved him in that car…they had two kids to prove it: Oscar and Madi. They were now grown up and had cars of their own, ridiculing their parents for their Monte Carlo with the low gas mileage and the frame so big that it looked like a boat.

 For years, the kids teased them.

Finally, on a Sunday morning many months ago, Rolland asked his wife if they could go to a dealership. She stopped drinking her tea and put her mug down to look at him. Her smile had grown tired, but she was still the wild one who had attracted him all those years ago, when her happiness was just Rolland and that car and a stretch of road that led to a dark section of town where they could talk and fool around and maybe ask the world for a little privacy.

 But, despite all of this, she said, “Sure.”

 He beamed. “Get your shoes on!” he said, grabbing his keys. She didn’t linger. She was right behind him, her hand squeezing the small of his back as they left the house.

Rolland hadn’t seen the other car run the red light.

He just felt it.

Annise didn’t feel anything. That’s what the doctors told him, at least.

 Rolland’s mind returned to the present. He stared at the Monte Carlo. It had taken a year to replace all the parts. When he’d retired as a mechanic all those years ago, he had relished the thought of never picking up a wrench again…

“Sorry, babe,” Rolland said, the words echoing in the small, lonely room in the small, lonely house. He looked through the doorway from the garage and into the kitchen.

Her lipstick was still on the mug.

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Dominic Howarth works at Mazzaro’s Italian Market, a growing, independent store in St. Petersburg, FLA. When he isn’t working, he’s spending time with his family and loved ones, reading voraciously, or spreading the joy of swing dancing one student at a time. His work placed highly in the 2016 NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest. He is currently working toward a collection of short stories.

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