Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Little Dent Makes a Big Impression blog post #340

Courtesy of Pixabay
Received a lot of hits on “Splendid Desolation,” but few comments. Maybe it didn’t attract enough fantasy fiction fans. That’s the price you pay when you wander all over the literary map. Such as with this week’s submission.


Seven o’clock. In the PM. Long day. Tired… and apparently careless. As I backed my Chevy Blazer into a parking spot at my apartment complex, I let the day’s worries get to me. I hit the brakes as soon as I felt contact and pulled forward a bit before getting out. Yep, the yellowToyota RAV4 in the parking space next to me sported a fresh dent in the rear passenger’s panel. My boat? Not a scratch.
Considering the space to be jinxed, I moved two parking spots over and paid more attention this time as I backed between the two white lines. Upon switching off the motor, I dithered over what to do. I’d seen the RAV in the lot often, so obviously the owner lived in my neck of the woods. Should I leave a note confessing my sin, or just keep an eye out for the owner. Or maybe figure the dude had uninsured motorist coverage and let his insurance company take care of it. Yeah. That was it.

I did not sleep well that night and came to the conclusion that my conscience was pestering the daylights out of me. Well, too bad, conscience, a little dent wasn’t worth all the trouble. So I pounded the pillow into submission and went back to sleep. Have you ever dreamed of a little dent in a car panel? It was boring enough so that I should have slept like the preverbal log but pesky enough to jerk me awake every few minutes.

Okay, this thing had to be dealt with… but how. What was the safest course for me? Dump a couple of hundred-dollar bills in an envelope and put it under the RAV’s windshield wiper anonymously? That approach appealed. No way did I want to become personally involved in a confession/accusation thing. For all I knew the SUV was owned by that scary two hundred-fifty pounder with a long black beard who skulked past my apartment every morning. He looked like he’d physically engage with a fellow for just looking at him wrong, much less putting a dent in his ride.
Or maybe it was the beanpole at the far end of the building who looked to be a clerk of some sort. Couldn’t have been thirty yet, and he was already stooped over like he perpetually scribbled in a ledger book or hammered on a typewriter. Naw. He looked nerdy enough to have a computer, not a typewriter.
Or it could be…. Yak! Stop it. Just keep an eye on the RAV and try to spot the owner.

A couple of days passed without me identifying the car’s driver. Our paths never crossed when I was coming or going. All I saw was the parked vehicle when I came home from work. Actually, the damage looked uglier than I’d first thought. Maybe I should have reported it to my insurance company, but I have a hellacious deductible, so why bother? It would all come out of my pocket anyway… plus the cost of my policy would go up at renewal time. Nope, I’d just have to smother my conscience and do a few good deeds in recompense… the kinds that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Saturday morning, I stood shirtless on my patio with a cup of strong coffee in my hand when this really gorgeous dish sauntered by. She’d moved in a couple of doors down about a month ago. A month ago? That was about when the RAV showed up in the parking lot!
I scooted back inside the apartment to throw on a shirt and slip into some moccasins before banging through my door and heading for the parking lot. Sure enough, the girl with the graceful sway headed straight to the RAV.
“Excuse me, miss,” I called, struggling with the top button on my shirt. Oh, Lord! I hadn’t shaved yet. No wonder she was examining me with an uncertain look on her lovely face.
“Are you speaking to me?” she asked in a low, melodious voice.
“Yes, ma’am,” I said, short of breath as I caught up with her. “Hi, I’m Rob Sterling.”
Her left eyebrow arched. “Rod Sterling? Aren’t you dead?”
“Rob. Rob Sterling. Not Rod Sterling. I’m your neighbor in 121.”
She relaxed. “Hello, I’m Marty Hanover. Nice to meet you.”
“I… uh, I was trying to catch the owner of this vehicle. The RAV is yours, isn’t it?”
She nodded.
“Well, I have a confession to make. I accidentally backed into your car and left that dent.” Like some gawky, inexperienced actor, I dramatically indicated the injured panel.
“You did that?”
Not quite certain whether her tone was accusatory or expressed relief, I nodded. “Yes, sorry. I came home late from work and was tired and wasn’t paying attention. That’s my Blazer over there, the red one.”
“Do you always back into parking spaces?”
I shrugged and managed a half laugh. “Yeah. There are kids in the complex, and I feel safer pulling out in the morning with only one cup of coffee under my belt. Kids are safer, too.”
“But apparently not cars.”
That threw me, but I soldiered on. “Anyway, I want to make it right. If you’ll have it repaired, I’ll pay the bill.”
That should have brought a smile but elicited a frown. “I don’t know much about car repairs. I don’t know where to take it. Or if I’m being treated fairly. Or—”
“I’ve got a mechanic who also does body work. Used him for a couple of years. Be happy to recommend him.”
The delayed smile appeared, causing my heart to pitter-patter. “That would be nice. Could you also go with me? You know how to talk car repairs. I don’t.”
“Sure. When would you like to go?”
“Is he open on Saturday?”
“Until noon.”
“Would now be convenient?”
“Your car or mine?” she asked.
“Since he has to look at the damage it would have to be yours. We’ll go down, have him look it over, and make an appointment for the repair job.”
 “Thank you. That’s very nice of you.”
“Not at all. After all, I caused all the folderol.”
Within two blocks, I knew she’d moved to town to take a job at the University of New Mexico, hailed from Chicago, wasn’t sure if she liked Albuquerque, and wasn’t married or engaged. When we arrived at the shop, my friend took a look at the damage, quoted a price that took my breath away—but still less than my deductible—and made an appointment for Monday morning.
As we headed back to the apartment complex, a thought occurred. “How are you going to get to work after you drop the RAV off at the shop on Monday?” I asked.
“Taxi… bus. I’m not sure.”
“How about if I follow you down and take you to work?”
“What about your job?”
“I’ll let them know I’m going to be late.”
“Are you sure?”
“You bet.” I drew breath and held it a bit. “And I’ll pick you up Monday afternoon and drive you to pick up your car.”
“I don’t want to become a pest.”
Please be a pest! “That’s okay. I put the dent in your RAV, didn’t I?” Bless that little dent.
“So you say.”
“And after that, we could stop somewhere for an early dinner, maybe.”
She smiled. Oh, what a smile! “That would be nice. Maybe I’m going to like Albuquerque after all.”
Sometimes a little dent makes a big impression.


Looks like Rob made a connection… and all it cost him was something less than his insurance deductible. Maybe it’s the start of something wonderful, life changing even. I hope so.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!

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