Thursday, January 7, 2010

Canadian Whiskey

A response to Heather Hansen's "Three Word Salad" in Flashy Fiction.

A red light blinked on the dash as the car spoke in a stilted voice, "The engine is going to overheat... please pull to the side of the road and turn the car off."

Ken and I sat in the back seat as we passed the exit sign for 8 Mile Road. I wore Ken's sports jacket over Mike's gold shirt. We still had another half hour of driving before getting to the Ambassador Bridge.

"Shit," said Stacy who drove the Buick Skylark. Stacy was blonde and stocky like a soccer player. She was a great friend but you had to be careful around her because she was one of those soccer players who would kick your ankle, knock you down, and leave you writhing in the grass if you crossed her.

"What's wrong?" asked Ken.

"There's a leak in the radiator," said Stacy. "We're probably out of radiator fluid."

"If you drive to the next exit, there will be a gas station there."

Mary, riding in the passenger seat, reached her hand back and squeezed my knee. She almost looked like Stacy's twin except her hair was dyed red and she wasn't as stocky. I didn't like this. Detroit's neon lights reflected off the pavement in the dark and I could imagine inner-city thugs crawling around the gas station like predators. Of course, the risk was probably better than getting stranded on the freeway."

"I'll get some radiator fluid," said Ken. "Be right back."

Mary, Stacy, and I stood around the car with its doors open. I watched three men, about as young as we were, who watched us from the shadows of the building next door to the gas station.

Ken came back lugging a plastic jug of radiator fluid.

"Let's pour the radiator fluid in and get going," I said.

"No," said Ken, "you need to wait until the engine cools down.

I didn't want to wait, I had Mike's old drivers license that we bent and rubbed to make the photo look worn so that the bouncers wouldn't notice I wasn't Mike. I was jittery from that and the young men that watched us.

"Okay, that should do it," said Ken. "Do you have an old rag?"

"Yes," said Stacy.

Ken popped the hood, took the rag from Stacy, and twisted the radiator cap off one twist at a time. The radiator fluid glugged as Ken poured it.

"As good as new. Well, not really. But let's get going." We all piled back into the car and I looked forward, with a little trepidation, to the Canadian bar.

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