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The Mechanic and the Babe
by Don Drewniak

My wife and I moved from Texas to Fenwick Island in southeastern Delaware some years ago. Our new home was three kilometers removed from Atlantic Ocean beaches and the summer resort of Ocean City, Maryland.

I had a ’99 Nissan Pathfinder with 186,000 miles on it that was badly in need of a tune-up. (My wife always gets the new cars, while I get the hand-me-downs.) There was only one automobile shop nearby. It was run by a short, fat, bald guy named Nick who was probably in his mid-40s.

Once all the high-priority items associated with the move were taken care of, or being worked on, I drove the Pathfinder to Nick’s garage on a Tuesday morning. There was only one other car in the building. In retrospect, that should have been red flag number one. I explained what I wanted done.

“Be ready at three.”

I walked back home as our house was only a mile away and walked back getting to the garage just after three. These were Nick’s first words, “Do you have any extra blood pressure pills?”

What the hell?

“No, sorry.”

“Well, if you ever get some, I’ll knock something off your bill. Can’t afford a goddamn doctor, so I get the goddamn pills from some of my customers.”

I thought about trying to explain to him why taking different pills with different dosages was not a good idea, but I figured he had been told that more than once.

He put his right hand up to his forehead. Using his thumb and middle finger he massaged his temples. “Goddamn blood pressure gives me these goddamn headaches.”

I moved the conversation, such as it was, to the Pathfinder.

“It’s ready to go. Can you pay cash?” he asked.

Since I knew he was trying to sidestep both federal and state taxes, I had no problem paying with greenbacks. Off I went.

It was back to Nick’s two months later to get an oil change for my wife’s SUV. Once again there was only one vehicle in the garage, a mint blue Lincoln Continental.

“What year is it?” I asked as I nodded in the direction of the Lincoln.

“An ’88. The rich son-of-a-bitch who owns it has two other cars that he brings in here. Brought this one in yesterday. Get a phone call this morning from a daughter. The bastard went and died on me last night. My best customer. Can you believe this shit?” Red flag number two.

Almost three months passed before my next visit.

“How are you doing, Nick?”

“Better. Got a guy who gets me the pills I need on the cheap. Say, do you ever go to online chats to try to get a piece of ass?”

“Nick, I’m married. Why would I do that?”

“Listen, there is something wrong with my wife. She won’t give me no sex.”

Looking at and listening to him, I knew the problem was not with his wife.

“Can’t do anything with your car today. I gotta date for lunch coming up.”

He’s got to be joking.

But he wasn’t.

“Listen, I started a chat last night with this Russian babe and I’m set to meet her at a pub.”

During the summer months, thousands of people flood into Ocean City to vacation. Because of this, large numbers of Eastern Europeans come to work in area restaurants, bars, pubs, shops, hotels and the city’s amusement park. Nick had obviously hooked up with one who had a different type of “work” in mind.

“Suppose your wife finds out?”

“No chance. Come back tomorrow. I’ll tell you all about it.”

I was looking forward to the next day. The shop was empty and Nick was sitting at a rickety wooden desk in his filthy office. There was an open bottle of whiskey sitting on the desk. Nick looked even more shitty than usual. “How did it go, Nick?”

He stared at me for nearly a half minute before taking a good-sized swig of the whiskey. “That miserable goddamn bitch stole my credit card and emptied it before I could stop it.”

“How did she steal your card?”

“She was waiting for me at the entrance. A few wrinkles, but still good-looking. Big boobs. Great legs. Short, short skirt. She had a waitress bring us to a booth near the back of the place. She wanted wine. I got a beer. She ordered a goddamn lobster dish. I got a cheeseburger and fries.”

Just what the doctor ordered.

“She gets a second wine. I get another beer. We finish eating. It’s another wine and another beer. Then she puts a foot up against my crotch and rubs. Rolls her tongue over her lips and says, “Let’s go to my place.”


“Now I gotta take a goddamn piss real bad. So I put a credit card on the table and tell her to get a waitress to take the card so we can clear out fast. I run to the men’s room.”

“Let me guess, Nick, she was gone.” He nodded as his eyes watered. “What did you do?”

“I figured she went to the ladies’ room, so I sit and wait. The waitress comes and hands me the goddamn check. I ask her if she saw the woman I was with. She tells me she left.”

“Did you call the police?”

“Whatta they going to do? And then my goddamn wife is gonna find out.”

“How did you pay?”

“I had a second card with just enough credit to cover the goddamn bill. I came back here and changed back into my work stuff and then I go back home and get the info on how to get a hold of the credit card company and I come back here and find out she cleaned the card out.”

“Will your credit card company wipe out what she spent because the card was stolen?”

“Yah, but that is going to take a few days and the card was canceled. It’s gonna take a few more days to get the new ones. My wife uses hers to get food and whatever else needs, but the two of them are part of the same account.”

“Are you going to tell her you lost yours?

“Yah, but then she’ll try to use the other one and find out it’s empty. I’m goddamn screwed.”

“Nick, it could have been a lot worse.”

“How the goddamn hell how?”

“You gave the Russian a gift by leaving your card with her. I’d bet she would have taken you to some dump of a room where there would have been one or two guys who would have beat the crap out of you and taken your wallet, wristwatch and who knows what else.”

His usually red-flushed face turned pale and he proceeded to empty the bottle. He rubbed his eyes, looked up at me and asked, “Any chance you can float me a loan.” Red flag number three.

“Sorry, Nick.”

I passed by the shop a couple weeks later. His sign was gone. In the main window was a notice that read, “Thrift shop coming in August.”