I wrote this story on a lark to submit to a little contest. Since it had to be 250-300 words it became an exercise in minimalism. Cutting words left and write I got a 700+ story down to 298 words. If I could, I don't think I would add too many of them back. This is entirely true.
Just before the Bay Bridge my engine coughed up smoke. I bought some coolant at a SoMa Shell Station and waited for the engine to cool.
“That won’t work,” came from the other side of the car, apparently from someone with x-ray vision. A limping black man in the faded colors of the homeless came around the car and stood close enough for me to smell. He quickly nodded, transferred his weight to a large walking branch, and leaned over the engine.
“It’s okay,” I said. I looked around, expecting to see his accomplice sneaking up.
“Touch this. Come on, touch it.” He held a long black rubber tube.”
“No thanks.” I worried I’d burn my hand, even though he held the tube.
I thought, “let go of my tube,” but I didn’t want be that jerk who’s mean to the homeless. I reached out. Warm.
“You feel that?” Leaning over the engine, he began some jabberwocky car talk. I couldn’t follow. His voice trailed off. I heard a sound. The sound of someone throwing up. This guy I was trying to treat nicely and let fiddle with my engine just threw up in my car!
He turned, his lips pursed. He held up the now unattached tube, which was dripping fluid. “It was the tube.” He spoke calmly, but with the unmistakable hint of annoyance. He knew what I’d been thinking. After that I kind of had to let him do whatever he wanted.
Lester fixed my car while explaining everything he did and how much a mechanic would’ve charged. He also said a car hit him a month before and “decapitated” his foot. I gave him all the money in my wallet. I drove away, with no smoke.