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Motor Oil
by Eric Suhem

“HA-HA-HA!! I love your choice of motor oil!” she announced.

He looked up from his perusal of Motor Oil Weekly magazine. They were sitting in the bleak waiting room at Quikee Lube. She was wearing an orange jumper with purple bells. “I think that one’s choice of motor oil says a lot about that person. For example an election of 10w30 indicates a loyal dedication to rules, and the tried & true, elements upon which the society stands, whereas a selection of 10w40 displays an untamed spirit, a willingness to plunge into the wilderness of the unknown!”

“Do you know anything about motor oil at all?” he asked, feeling indignant about her presumptuousness, lack of knowledge, and purple bells.

“No, but I know people,” she said, as the Quikee Lube technician held her car’s air filter aloft in the waiting room, requesting her decision for a replacement. “And I can tell that you’re looking to shake things up, break free, and embrace adventure!”

He suddenly felt attracted to her free-spirited way of being. She looked like an instant liberation from his hum-drum life. In spite of her strange clothing, she reminded him of people he saw in commercials during the evening news, people who surf during the day and have orgies in their bohemian lofts at night. He wanted to find out more about this. “What’s your name?” he asked.

“I’m Chloe, what’s yours?”

“I’m Karl, but you can call me ‘Intrigued’.”

Chloe laughed flirtatiously, slapping him playfully with a customer survey response card that had been helpfully situated in the waiting room by the Quikee Lube team. “Would you like to come over for a drink?” she asked him, while putting firm cylindrical containers of viscous engine lubricant into a shopping bag. Karl nodded yes. They got into their cars after their oil changes had been completed, and he followed her out of the Quikee Lube, onto the highway.

3 months (3,000 miles) ago, they had coincidentally both been at Quikee Lube for an oil change, though he did not remember her. It had been busy that day, and Karl was yelling at the Quikee Lube technicians, berating them for their lack of expertise in transmission fluid service and tire rotation. Karl was also rudely pushing the other customers aside, and kicking their vehicles. Chloe would never forget that image of him kicking her car, his leg swinging back and forth in consistent arcs, before he sped off. Chloe loved her car.

Chloe’s house was on a winding cliff road near the ocean. As she drove, she looked in the rear-view mirror, seeing Karl’s car behind her. Reaching across the seat, she picked up a plastic quart of motor oil, which she had purchased at the Quikee Lube, and poured it out the window. Karl’s tires skidded on the oil slick, and his car lost control, sliding over the edge of the cliff, crashing on the jagged rocks below.

Chloe checked her list, and scratched off Karl’s name. She looked at the sticker that Quikee Lube had applied to her windshield. “Next Service: 3,000 miles’.