The Mechanic, a short story written by Colleen Hariston

“A mechanic’s wishes come true when his sister’s boyfriend gets caught cheating. “

With his hands stuffed deep into the pockets of his jeans, Mason hurried up the basement steps and out the front door, letting it slam against the wooden frame. He jumped over the broken step and his shoelace caught on a loose board and he gracefully regained his composure, smiling at Mrs. Gratsky as she glanced his way. She smiled back waving her newspaper his way in a cheery hello. Embarrassed, he shouted out to her, “I’m okay!” as he silently promised to bring his tools home and hammer the hell out of the loose board so that he wouldn’t break his neck the next time. Mason bent down to tie his shoelaces and catching his eye was a dress shoe, just to the left of the bushes, out of the view from the street. The shiny black shoe looked so out of place and familiar laying there alone, while the feeling of despair began to flutter around in Masons’ belly. Butterflies swarming inside of him as he slowly walked over to the lonely shoe. Picking the shoe up, he saw a foot, the foot that the shoe obviously belonged to, so he rushed over and found Chase lifelessly sprawled out in the dirt. Shock and fear engulfed Mason’s mind and body as he felt chills travel from his head to his toes. Fear that he had never experienced before came over him as he bent down to check the body which lay so unnaturally still on the ground. acknowledging the worse, Mason began to shake the body, getting no response, he had no clue why he would shake the body, it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Mason knew Chase was dead, but how?

The dead man had been perfectly alive when Mason had shoved him out the door last night. Help me, were the last words Mason had heard Chase mumble as he had angrily slammed the door last night. Oh no, this is not good. He had no idea that Chase was hurt that evening and now he was in a panicked state of mind. Mason began to inspect the body of Rachel’s boyfriend. She noticed a dark, wet spot under Chase’s left arm that had spread into a gruesome circle of doom and Mason tore at buttons and tore the shirt wide open, it was then that Mason saw a puncture wound with coagulated blood sticking to the shirt and body, right below the left nipple. Shocked, Mason dropped Chase’s arm and heard it eerily thump onto the still body. With his hand to his gaping mouth, Mason frantically looked all around the yard and saw a broken piece of wood with a very jagged, splintered end protruding from the muddy area. His mind began to race. He started to think out loud. “She stabbed him?” No, wait, she couldn’t have, he thought. “This is terrible, what am I going to do?” Mason had never seen a dead body before, and he had not noticed that he was standing there frozen in time until he heard a faint voice. “is everything okay Mase?” Her words startled him back to reality, he turned around, waved frantically, then gleefully shouted, “everything’s fine!”, with a little too much enthusiasm.

Mrs. Gratzky was a busybody, and Mason knew he had to deal with this body situation as soon as possible because Gratsky could walk on over at any second and see Chase and call the cops. Time stood still. He had to get rid of the body. He had no idea how he was going to remove the body discreetly. He had thought about calling the police himself but thought twice when he knew that his sister could end up in prison. He had to come up with something, and he needed to do it quickly. He pulled his flip phone out of his jacket pocket and dialed sisters number. There was no answer. By this time he was feeling like an accessory to murder, and he and all he did was shove the idiot out the front door and lock the guy out of the house. He did, however, ignore the desperate calls for help. That would look bad when and if the cops arrived. At the time Mason just thought that Chase just wanted Rachel to give him an opportunity to speak to her. That was not all he needed. Chase had needed help. How could this be happening?

It was daylight now, and there would be a higher chance that someone would see him dragging a whole body to the back of the house. He couldn’t imagine being caught red-handed, pulling a lifeless body into the shed. Mason would have to put the body in the shed, but for now, he was going to roll the body over closer to the house and more out of the way. Having turned the body slightly over onto the stomach, Mason noticed a large chunk of wood splintered out of Chases’ back. Mason gasped in horror. Chase must have stumbled on the loose step of the porch, fell and landed right on top of the raggedy shaft of wood that stuck in the soft mud. A small sigh of relief passed over Mason as he realized that his sister didn’t stab Chase that night, It had been an accident. Mason had no idea how fast the time was getting away from him. He glanced down at his phone. He was supposed to be at work in 45 minutes. He didn’t have a car, and there was no way he could call off because Uncle Ray was counting on him to train the newbie.

Mason quickly made his way toward the shed. Snatching a faded blue, plastic tarp off of his Harley Davidson motorcycle, he began to rock the bike back and forth until the stand lifted. Rolling the massive machine up the steep driveway to the front of the house was difficult. Wheeling the cycle with the tarp dragging behind him he placed the motorcycle right front of the body to conceal it better, then he carefully laid the tarp over the body, tucking it in where it would be snug around the body. “This will have to do until I get off of work,” he thought as he stepped back to admire his cleverness. Mason pulled his phone out again and checked the time, 9:45 am. He had about 15 minutes to get to work on time and wasn’t sure he would make it even if he ran. Getting sweaty before work made him feel crappy as the sun beat down on he back as he walked. Today was ruined from the start. Mason began walking quickly down the dirt path toward Uncle Ray’s garage, dialing Rachels phone number praying she would pick up the phone. He hated when Rachel ignored his calls.

Kicking rocks out of his path as he slowly made his way down the dirt path to the garage, Mason thought about what lies ahead in his day as he hurried to the garage and how he would get through it with all that had transpired in the last 24 hours. He thought back to when the trouble first started. the trouble started with the argument that he overheard his older sister and her boyfriend having last night. He could hear his sister faintly through the vent above his head. When he heard glass shatter, Mason jumped up and out of his twin bed, grabbed his robe off the hook on the back of the door and rushed over to the bottom of the steps so he could hear better. Rachel was really giving Chase an earful. Mason could hear chase begging Rachel to believe it wasn’t like she thought and Rachel wouldn’t have any part of listening to him. She had been screaming at the top of her lungs and Mason could barely understand the words that came scorching out her mouth. For the first time since the two had got together, Rachel was speaking her mind about the adulterous ways that Chase had been displaying for basically the whole time they were together. It seemed like an eternity, the waiting and listening to hear what would happen next. Mason had stood at the bottom of the basement steps listening intently for about 5 minutes when he heard someone running toward the kitchen, snatching a drawer open. His instincts told him that he should run upstairs at that moment but he seemed to be frozen in place. Moments later sounds of another glass shattering broke him out of his trance and he raced up the stairs just in time to see the silver glint of a long carving knife swing wildly through the air. He sprinted across the living room, sliding on the tiled floor, quickly regaining his footing, he snatched his sister’s arm while it was in mid-swing and then pulled her body toward him in an effort to still her body. she had struggled, screaming for Mason to release her, all the while he was telling her, “Rachel, you don’t want to do this! Let me have the knife”. Mason could feel his sister’s body relax and meld into his and as reality set in he began to feel her arm relax and he gently took the knife out of her hand and threw it over the breakfast bar into toward the sink. “Get him out of here” Rachel sobbed as she leaned against the bookshelf and crumpled to the floor. Mason walked over to Chase and said “Dude you need to get out of here” and for some reason, Chase tried to push pass Mason over to Rachel and Mason grabbed him strongly by the shoulders and shoved him toward the front door. Mason threw Chase out and the desperate man stumbled and tripped on the loose board on the porch step that had never been fixed and fell hard onto the grass below, immediately pleading for Mason to help him. “I suggest you help yourself” was Masons’ response Chases’ pleas, then Mason slammed the door and put the deadbolt on with a fierceness he did not exist in him.

Mason went to Rachel and gently put his strong hands on her shoulders and asked her if she was alright. Rachels’ mascara stained face looked up at Mason and he knew that she wasn’t okay but that was all he could think of saying to her. He took her hands and help her to stand and guided her to the kitchen sink. He wet a paper towel and gave it to her so she could wipe her face. Rachel took the paper towel and then sat down on the stool that she used when she needed to grab something off a high shelf. Mason pulled a coffee mug out of the cabinet and placed it under the Keurig, he twirled the stand with the pods and chose a chamomile mint green tea pod and placed it in the dispenser. Next, he picked the knife up from the floor he put it in the sink. He wanted to ask her what in the world she was thinking of, grabbing a knife like she was killer but he thought it would be best not to ask that just yet, Chase had been cheating on Rachel for about a year now and Mason wanted to give Rachel the opportunity to realize just how volatile her situation had become. It was time to let the man go. She needed to show Chase that she wasn’t going to be a pushover anymore and be done with this unhappy relationship. Mason would not tell her that she didn’t need him and she could do better because it was not up to him who his sister chose to fall in love with. She needed to figure that out on her own and if this didn’t open her eyes he didn’t know what would.

Mason wanted Rachel to make Chase understand that she wasn’t going to take any more of his bull shit and she was leaving him for good this time. He would keep his finger crossed that the break up would happen. It would be awesome if Chase would disappear out of Rachel’s life but of course, that would be highly unlikely since Chase lived in their small town with a population of only 2000. The only way that Chase would disappear would have to call for extreme measures, and Mason was pretty sure he wasn’t up to that task. Picking up his pace, thinking to himself if it were possible for a person to have a negative thought and then that thought becomes a reality. It was very strange to him that in one moment he was hoping to get rid of Chase by extreme measures and then the next moment the man was as dead as could be. It all felt so eerie. His body quickened and the hair on the back of neck his raised causing him to shiver in the heat

Getting closer to his job, Mason remembers when Rachel had fallen in love with Chase while they were attending a community tech school two summers ago. She worshipped the ground Chase walked on, there was nothing he could do wrong, and it hurt Mase to know that his sister had fallen in love with a guy of that character. Mason hated seeing how Rachel would get weak and forgiving every time he would come home with flowers and an apology card after even she had found out that chase had been flirting and with other women. Rachel always had a forgiving attitude when it came to Chase and his infidelities but last night must have been the last straw. Last night she was beyond furious with Chase, and now Chase would never cheat on her again.

Thinking back, he had asked Rachel what had happened that made her feel like stabbing Chase. Rachel went into full detail as she sipped her chamomile tea. she told Mason that she had decided to take Chases’ laundry basket down to sort and wash his clothes. something she never did because she felt like she already did too much in the house, but that night she wanted to be nice so when she reached her hand into a pair of denim jeans that Chase had been wearing earlier that day she found his cell phone, the cell phone that he had been looking for all morning, and a crumpled napkin. She really didn’t think anything of the napkin as she tossed it into the wastebasket and put his cell phone on top of the dryer. Rachel had told Mason that the urge to look through her boyfriends’ phone was overwhelming to her so she picked it up and put in the alternate pin that she had made Chase put on his phone so that she could access his content at any time. No more secrets she had said as she gave him the secondary pin to her own phone. Once she opened the phone, she skimmed through Chases’ call logs and didn’t find anything incriminating and that made her smile, so she pressed the power button gently and sat the phone back on the dryer. The washer locked as it began filling up with water, she went to the dryer to empty the vent and when she tossed the lint into the wastebasket, she missed. Bending down to reach between the washer and the dryer to grab the lint she glanced at the napkin and noticed that the was a pink smudge of color on the napkin that she had taken from Chases’ jeans, at the exact same moment, the phone on the dryer started to vibrate. Rachel quickly reached into the basket, snatched the napkin out and carefully smoothed out the napkin to find that there had been a bright pink matte lipstick print and right between perfectly plump lip print the words Alexandria” and right below that was a phone number written in tiny print. Enraged, Rachel picked up the phone and put the pin in and immediately thumbed through the phone until she was in the messages. Her face turned bright red with fury as she read all the sordid details of a night of lust filled passion between her boyfriend and “Alexandria” of course there was no name in the contact space but when Rachel checked the number on the phone to the number on the napkin it was clear to her that this was more than she could handle. Mason remembered how Rachel had ignored him when he had asked her what was wrong as she quickly ran upstairs to confront Chase.
Finally arriving at Uncle Rays Garage, Mason knew that being late to work with a new hire waiting for him just wasn’t professional, no matter what the circumstances. He pulled his time card out and placed it in the box on the microwave. He saw “Train the newbie, Alex Stewert” on the post-it that Uncle Ray had stuck on the cork board the night before. Mason was going to be training a new kid on the ins and outs of the office. The invoicing, the scheduling of appointments and how to deliver the perfect customer service line, were just a few of the task working the front office entailed. Doing secretary stuff was not his niche, but he knew it came with the territory. In order for him to get the supervising position when it was time for promotions came around, he would have to suck it up because it was something that needed to be done and if he had to train a thousand workers he would begrudgingly do so. Working on a car, picking and pulling on grimy parts, getting his hands dirty was what he preferred to be doing. Being under the hood of a car was what he needed to be doing today because his mind would be continually reverting to the terrible scene at his home. He would never be able to keep his mind off of the matter that awaits him at home.

Ever since he was a young boy he had loved to fiddle with car engines, he could thank his grandpa for introducing Mason to the world of auto repair. He learned what each tool was and what it was used for. Mason loved to pull the tools from the garage and hand them his grandpa. Working with his hands while working on cars was very calming to him, he could forget about his troubles. Changing tires, timing chains and oil filters felt to him like when a housewife read novels to take her away from her everyday life. Working on cars made Mason took him to another world. He enjoyed when he came to the rescue of a damsel in distress. Oh, the rush of excitement that overcame him whenever the opportunity arose for him to fix a car that had been brought in by a desperate female. He enjoyed the happy smiles and the gratefulness that was repeated over and over as the vehicle drove off the lot. Knowing that his customers were satisfied with the service that he provided almost made up for the payment he received after a finished job, but the money was excellent too.
He anxiously looked out the front window to see if anyone was waiting out in the parking lot because his trainee was not waiting for him inside as he suspected. Only one person was sitting in the office on one of the steel folding chairs. She was flipping through an old copy of auto trader. The woman sat with one leg daintily draped across the other, and her jet-black curls were pulled up into a ponytail and upon further inspection, he saw that her make up was flawless. Mason’s breath caught in his throat as he stared at the woman of his dreams.
Mason stepped over to the counter, “what can I do for you today?” The woman looked up, folding the copy of auto trade in half and said “hi, how are you?”, “Ray let me in” and “I was told to meet uh’ Mason here, for the training?” She smiled politely as she waited for Mason to regain his composure. Oh hey, you must be Alex! He stuttered, “yes, I am the Mason you are seeking!”. I just thought you”… she interrupted, “I’d be a he?” she laughed, a cute little laugh and still fumbling his words, he apologized then welcomed her to Uncle Rays Auto Body Shop and how nice it was to meet her. Smiling foolishly he reached his hand out over the counter for her to grab. She walked over to the counter and shook his hand firmly and soon the awkward moment passed. There was no need for the raunchy jokes about the men’s room now, he thought. Man, this was turning into some day. Mason combed his hair back with his fingers and tried to get down to business. He told her to come on around the counter so that he could show her how to use the punch card. He picked up a blank time card and had her fill out her name address and phone number when he took the card and placed it between the heavy metal until a loud click stamped the card. “your hair smells wonderful” he hoped he hadn’t said that out loud. He placed her card right behind his own card that he had put in the box earlier.
Mason was beginning to feel weird having to train the new girl. Knowing that he was about one foot in the mouth away from being a male sexist made him wish that uncle Ray would have given him a heads up so that he could have been on his best behavior. Mason instinctively called the new girl by her first name, Alexandria and she quickly told him that Alex would be okay. Masons palms were sweating so he wiped them o his jeans rapidly then stuffed his hands into his pockets. He sheepishly told her that this job would be a cinch and she was sure to catch on right away, after all, he thought, secretarial work was for women. Mason squinted up his face, and Alex gave a look of disappointment, and she tried to read his thoughts. “stupid, why in the world would you think of that?” he said to himself. Today was going to be a long day indeed.

He had already forgotten about the dead body that lay in his front yard.
After showing Alex the ropes he went down the steps to set up everything for the day. When he came back up there were 3 customers waiting. Alex handed him the first set of keys with the paper detailing what needed to be done one the first car. He went out to the parking lot then drove the car around back so that he could work on it. He had to be quick today because he wanted to get home before the mailman made his way to their place. The mailman usually got to Mason and Rachels house around 3ish and there was no way a body could be missed laying in the front yard, under a tarp. He decided to close the shop up at 1 o’clock so that he could get home as soon as possible. He finished with the first car and gave Alex the keys and handed her the bill which she needed to read over to the customer to ensure satisfaction before taking any payments. Listening to the sultry tone in which Alex spoke made him anxious to get the next vehicle and pull it around back. He quickly went inside to get the next set of keys and drove around back. He decided to chance a call to Rachel once again before he started working on the car, and surprisingly she answered on the first ring.

Mason had no idea of what he was going to say to Rachel now that he had her on the phone but all he could think to say, was “Can you please come pick me up at one? I really need to talk to you.” Rachel was okay with picking him because she had to go right past the garage on her way home from her job. “Sure, I’ll swoop you up, wanna grab a burger?” A burger was the last thing on his mind so he said he would let her know when she got here. Mason sighed as he put his phone back into his pocket and continued his work, non-stop until 12:45. Wiping his forehead as he walked into the office he was greeted by Alex who was holding a large clear drinking cup filled with a thick green smoothie. The sight of all the blended vegetables turned his stomach. When he asked Alex if she had a good day she told him it was just fine and offered him some of her green gunk. He immediately replied “I don’t do healthy” and grabbed his time card to punched out for the day. Mason told Alex it was time to shut the place down and handed her the card that she had filled earlier that morning so she could clock out as well. As she was putting her time card back into the basket, she asked if the hours would be this long every day. Mason laughed and told her he was sorry the days were short, but they would pick up more hours toward the end of the month. Alex seemed okay with that, and they both walked out the front door with Mason using his spare key to lock the place up for the night. He made a mental note to call Ray and thank him for hiring such a beautiful mechanic.

Alex waved goodbye, jumped into her yellow Jetta and pulled out into the street, leaving Mason pacing back and forth in the parking lot waiting for Rachel to get to the garage. He was troubled most of the day about what awaited him at home. Rachel would be horrified that he had just left a dead body in the front yard and what could he even say his reasons were for doing so. He didn’t want anyone to get into trouble, but everyone would be in trouble. Hell, it was an accident, how would he have known that Chase had been brutally murdered in his front yard that night? It could have happened to anyone, he thought. Screeching to a halt, Rachel stopped right behind Mason, and he whirled around and shouted: “Hey, lead foot you almost killed me!”
Rachel unlocked the passenger door for her brother to jump into the car. He buckled up, wishing his sister drove safer. “What did you want to talk about?” Rachel asked as she turned down her talk radio station. Mason began to tell her what had happened that morning after she had left for work and as Rachel listened in disbelief mason felt his eyes well up with tears. He was more afraid now than ever, and he had no idea of how to convince Rachel that what he was saying to her was indeed true. She would have to see for herself. Then they would be able to figure out what to do from that point.

Rachel noticed Masons Harley right away. A lump grew in his throat as he started looking to and fro to see if anybody was around. The coast was clear so he got out the car and urged Rachel to pull the car closer to the house so the vehicle would block them from street view when they moved the body. Rachel complied and then got out of the car and walked around to the front of the car and Mason leaned forward and pulled the blue tarp away from the ground. The body was gone! This is crazy he exclaimed to Rachel. Rachel was looking at Mason for the big tada, but all she got was “where did he go?” from her distraught brother. Combing his finger through his hair in that way he always did when he was feeling iffy, he looked around crazily looking for signs of where chase might be. Did the police come by and pick him? Everything was all wrong right now, and Mason needed to think. Rachel was just as dazzled by the situation and she sat down on the Harley and asked Mason “are you sure you weren’t dreaming?”

Mason was sure as the sky was blue that the morning had happened. Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, he heard Mrs. Gratsky calling out to him in her brittle voice. He looked across the street and saw her waving him over and like an obedient boy he sauntered over to where she stood.

“Come on over Rachel!” “your gonna want to see this for your self. So Rachel followed behind Mason and Mrs. Gratsky. “I heard all the commotion over at your place last night,” Mrs. Gratsky said, “thought I was gonna have to call the police,” she said emphasizing the O in the word police. Mason and Rachel followed Mrs. Gratsky down a long hall to a bedroom. “you put that darned tarp over this boys body and he damn near suffocated” she directed this to Mason “Luckily, I am quite the busy body and I just kep’ lookin over der’ at what ya mighta been hiding and lo an behold I saw that damn tarp move, just enough movement that I thought it mighta been my eyes playing tricks on me” “but then there it was again, that faint movement and I shuffled on across the street and this here boy was reaching up to me, saying somethin about how he deserved to die, how he never wanted to cheat on hurt her, I’m assuming he went on about you Rachel. I told him I was gonna call the 911 but he begged and pleaded with me not to call em, he didn’t want the police involved unless he died, made sure I knew it was an unfortunate accident. He kept talking about how if he lived he would do everything in his power to make things right with her.” Mason looked over at Rachel and her eyes ware full of tears as she asked “How did this happen? Oh my god, how did this happen.?” Not missing a beat Mrs. Gratsky continued “I told him to hush on up and save his energy because he was gonna need to help me help him across the street.” “Listening to all that gibberish was slowing me down.” Mason an Rachel listened to Mrs. Gratsky as she told them how she went back to her house and grabbed her wheelbarrow and pushed it over into their yard. She went on, ” I helped the poor boy climb into my wheelbarrow as best as he could and I tell you, it took all my strength to lift that damned wheelbarrow up with all this dead weight,” she pointed over to chase. “I managed to push it all the way over here and I helped him climb the steps and put him in here in this room where I checked his wounds and was able to pull out the huge splinter that was stuck in his back. It was tricky but I had to do it quickly, then I sealed the wound really good and gave him a few swigs of Jon’s bourbon, Jon is my late husband, he’s been gone for some 15 years, I don’t know how I kept on living ‘cept maybe God was saving me for this here day.” She looked over to mantle above the fireplace at a photo of a younger version of herself in a satin pink dress with her bare arms draped around the neck a handsome man. She looked over to Mason and said “Son it’s a good thing I was alive because had I let depression get the best of me, your life would be ruined. I know you only hid this boys body because you thought for sure he was dead, but thank god he wasn’t, you were about to be in all kinds of hell the moment you decided not to call the 911 and get help. I believe it was an accident. Let me tell you all something, ” she went on, ‘Don’t go letting your thoughts get away from you in times of distress, this all could have been avoided if you would have called the 911 and explained to them that it was an accident.” Mason cut in, “At first I thought that you had stabbed him,” looking at Rachel. “When I saw all the blood and the wood protruding from his back was when I figured out that he fell on that broken piece of wood I thought I couldn’t call the cops because I had remembered that chase had called out to me for help and I had ignored him and shut the door. I am so very sorry that I didn’t do more. I am so sorry chase.” Mason was sobbing now, with grief and relief he said sorrowfully, “I stumbled upon him on my way to work.”

Chase stirred, he had been listening to the three of them the whole time. He managed to whisper an “I forgive you man” and Mason went to the bedside and put his hand on Chases’ shoulder and said he was sorry one more time because he was remorseful. “I’m so glad your gonna be alright” Mason sighed. Mason turned to Mrs. Gratsky and said “Thank you very much for saving my friends life, and mine” then he went to hug it out with her as Rachel made her way to her boyfriend. She placed his hand in her own hands and brought them gently to her lips, and she kissed the back of his hand over and over again. She told him she loved him so much and that she forgave him and that she wouldn’t know how to live if he had died in the night after having argued. Chase squeezed her fingers gently and said “You are my true love, and I will never take you for granted again, you are my world Rachel Stewert” “Will you marry me?” With tears streaming down her rosy cheeks she said: “We’ve been through enough that I think I will marry you!” I love you’s were exchanged as Mrs. Gratsky went to the mantle and picked up the photo of her with her husband, she brought it to her lips. She kissed the glass gently then held the picture frame to her heart.
The End

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