The Mechanics

📅 Published on November 10, 2021

“The Mechanics”

Written by Bart Hopkins
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
Please wait...

The painted gray metal door leading from the reception area to the mechanics’ bays banged open.

“Hey … we got a hot one!”

“Yeah?” Nigel asked.

Larry nodded and winked, “Oh, yeah!”

Nigel smiled.

“Do we have some time?”

“All day, Nige. Guy’s wife came in, rushing him around, nagging him about this and that … complaining she was going to miss her Pilates workout if he didn’t hurry.” Larry grinned like a shark and tossed Nigel a set of keys. “Then they drove off in her Infiniti SUV.”

Nigel caught the keys and browsed through them.

“Whoa, hey mama,” Nigel cried out, holding up the Porsche key fob in his hand. “Maybe this will be the big one, eh?” he asked loudly, dangling the keys up in front of his face. His black eyes glittered like marbles.

Larry put a finger to his lips—there was another mechanic on duty in bay number three—but Nigel just laughed all the louder.

“Who? Pete?” Nigel asked, throwing a thumb back over his shoulder toward the other guy.

Pete was hunched under the hood of a black Mustang, headphone buds buried in his ears, butt moving back and forth to the rhythm of music only he could hear.

Larry eyeballed Big Pete for any sign that he was listening to them, but that oversized bottom just kept sashaying back and forth without a care in the world, and Larry laughed haltingly.

He was pretty big himself—six feet and 220—but Pete had six inches and fifty pounds on him. Maybe more. Customers sometimes complained when he left their driver’s seat pushed so far back that it was practically in the back seat.

Where Larry was olive-skinned with dark hair, Pete was pale with a tuft of red hair up top.

Nigel, on the other hand, was a small, wiry Latino who looked like a welterweight boxer. His head and eyes darted from side to side when he talked to people, like he was bobbing and weaving, expecting someone to jump him.

Larry once asked him how he ended up with a name like Nigel. Turns out his mom was British. Nigel’s dad brought her back to the old U-S-of-A when he was in the Army.

He didn’t get any of her looks, though.

We’re like the beginning of a joke, Larry thought. An Italian, a Mexican, and an Irishman walk into a bar…

The reception phone started ringing, interrupting his thoughts, and he let the door swing shut as he ran to grab it.

* * * * * *

Nigel watched Larry bolt from the room when the phones up front started ringing. He didn’t envy Larry having to talk to the customers all day. That was the type of thing that could drive a guy nuts.

He preferred the company of the cars.

With a couple of swipes, he wiped the oil from his hands onto the front of his uniform, leaving pale black streaks, then walked over and grabbed one of the Luxury Auto Repair paper seat covers from the corner. They were supposed to protect the car’s interior from things like, well, oily hands, but half of the time he forgot to put one in a car until he was already finished.

Oh, well…

There was a giant red button beside each bay door. It resembled something you’d see on a game show. No Whammies, and Stop! It was always begging him to give it a slap, and who was he to refuse? He gave it a good one—whack!—and stood back with his hands on his hips while the door opened. Burly forearms poked out below his elbows, hairy softball-sized balls of light brown muscle.

He let out a low whistle when he saw the high-end 911 Turbo Cabriolet parked outside. Nigel traced his finger down the side as he walked its length, admiring every curve and nuance. If love at first sight was possible with an inanimate object, color him smitten.

It was one of those cars that maybe one in a million people had, he figured. The unicorn of automobiles.

“Man, where do these Austin people get all their fucking money?” he said and chuckled, then shook his head. “Not fucking mechanics, that’s for sure.”

A week later, Larry and Nigel were parked near the entrance to one of the fanciest subdivisions in North Austin: Hill Country Estates.

“So, the mister works downtown, eh?” Nigel asked.


Nigel nodded slowly.

“Long commute,” he said.

“Yeah,” Larry agreed. “Forty-five minutes.”

“Sheesh. Fuuuuhck that,” Nigel said, drawing it out. “Sucks to be him. Good for us, though.”

Larry grunted in agreement.

They were in a white van with fancy, black script across the sides that said Dream Closet Specialists. Larry had fun coming up with fake company names for when they were out on a job. It took some extra time, not to mention a little extra cash for the supplies, but he thought of it as his art.

In the beginning, he used lacquer paint for the lettering, but lately he’d switched to magnetic letters he ordered off of Amazon. They were cheap, easy to switch around, and there were no spills or fumes. He marveled at how easy it was, even though he sometimes missed smelling those paint fumes.

Naturally, the license plates were stolen.

Larry always drove, so Nigel was over in the passenger seat, tapping the door with his right hand. Same old deal. Tap-tap-tap. Then, after some time, he switched to rubbing his hands together, almost like he were lathering up with soap. Rub-rub-rub. After half a minute or so, Larry watched the hands drop to the legs for long, slow pushes down the fabric. Then, just when you thought it was done, the process started over, and the tapping kicked off again.

He was like a one-man percussion ensemble.

All the while, the shifty eyes did their thing, looking left and right, bobbing and weaving.

Nigel didn’t notice Larry watching him. Larry was just about ready—right on the verge—of losing it and telling him to stop it with all the moving, for Christ’s sake, when Nigel’s body stiffened up and he said, “Here she comes.”

A familiar silver Infiniti SUV pulled out of Hill Country Estates. Blonde hair and sunglasses and curves zipped past them, doing well over the posted 30 mph.

“On her way to the gym, no doubt,” Nigel said and grinned. “She’s a little hardbody.”

Larry grunted, and continued watching the road. A Mercedes cruised by, and then half a minute later, a black 7-series BMW muscled its way along, not even breaking a sweat. Large blocks of limestone and cactus plants alternated down the median. Limestone, cactus. Limestone, cactus. The whole area was covered in limestone and cactus, perfectly manicured by invisible hordes of blue-collar guys driving trucks with trailers, just trying to make a living … all so that the ones with money could sigh contentedly every day.

Or speed by in their Infiniti SUVs.

“Okay. Here comes our boy.”

Larry admired the Porsche discreetly as it rolled by, metallic silver finish twinkling in the morning sun.

“That car gives me a hard-on,” Nigel said.

Larry just shook his head.

“Now, we wait.”

* * * * * *


Larry looked up, startled. He wondered if he was at home until he saw Nigel and it all came back to him.

“Must’ve dozed off,” he said.

Nigel snickered.

“You were drooling. Your old lady keep you up late?”

“Yeah, from her snoring.”

They laughed.

“She just drove by, Larry. Heading back home.”

That was the only rule they had. They hit their targets when someone was home because people didn’t set alarms unless they were leaving or it was nighttime. Sure, it was risky. One of those pampered suburban hotties might get away from them, or have a gun or something, but what were the odds? He figured snow in August was more likely. He grinned to himself and licked his lips.

“Cool. Fifteen minutes, we roll.”

Nigel’s head was on a swivel, as usual, and Larry chuckled to himself.

With all that looking, he shouldn’t miss anything!

“What’s funny?” Nigel asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Larry said. “Just thinkin’ that this might be the big one.”

Nigel looked at him thoughtfully before he replied.

“That’s what she said.”

* * * * * *

Fifteen minutes later, Larry and Nigel were in the van, backed up to the hardbody’s front door. Bushes along the property line kept them safely hidden from view on both sides.

“Hope she’s in the shower.” Nigel grinned, held up his duct tape, and jogged his eyebrows up and down.

“Focus,” Larry admonished, but he couldn’t stop himself from smiling. He pulled out their masks, and they slid them on.

Halloween was coming early this year.

They jumped out of the van and hurried up to the front stoop. Larry took the key from his pocket, slid it home, and opened the door.

* * * * * *


Larry was leaning through the gray door.

“Got something?”

“Yeah, but you gotta be quick. He’s coming back in an hour or so. The address is in a good neighborhood. I mean primo!”

Nigel grinned and put down his wrench.

“I’m on it.”

It was just an oil change, which Nigel could knock out fast. Fifteen minutes, tops, even on the foreign cars.

He went outside and pulled the vehicle—a black Escalade—into bay number one, then jogged down the street to the hardware store.

* * * * * *

“Can I help you?”

A muscular, bearded dude was behind the counter where they make the keys. Must be a new guy, Nigel thought as he glanced around.

“Is Roland off today or something?” he asked.

“Or something,” bearded guy replied with a shake of his head. “He went out to lunch.”

I don’t have time for this shit, Nigel thought. Curse words ricocheted around inside his brain. Roland always made the copies. Roland never asked questions. Roland knew the score. They went way back, he and Roland, and where they came from, snitches got stitches.

He cursed Roland for putting him in this situation. No time to wait, though.

“Okay, sure. Can I get a copy of my house key?”

“Sure thing, buddy.”

Nigel handed over the key ring.

The man glanced down at the keys, then quickly back up at Nigel. He had this funny look on his face, brows furrowed slightly, like he was in the middle of puzzling out a Rubik’s cube solution, but something wasn’t working.

“Can you make it?” Nigel asked him, irritated. “I’m kind of in a hurry, pal.”

Bearded guy eyed him for a few more seconds, and then smiled widely.

“Sure. Yes, sir. Coming right up.”

“Thanks,” Nigel said, exasperated.

Where’d they find this guy? he wondered.

The guy popped the key into one side of the machine and a blank into the other, aligned them, and clamped it all down. When he flipped the switch, the original key was traced on the left, while a high-speed grinder ate through the metal of the blank on the right. A simple system that yielded a perfect copy in seconds.

Nigel drummed his fingers on the counter.

Finally, the guy came over and handed him the Escalade keys and the new key. He was smiling.

“That’ll be two-fifty.”

Nigel tossed three dollars on the counter.

“Keep the change,” he said and hurried off.

* * * * * *

A couple of days later, Larry and Nigel were parked outside of yet another subdivision, engine off, waiting and watching.

The landscaping wasn’t as fancy as the last place with all the limestone and cactus, but the homes were larger, and they were all on two- and three-acre lots. Everything was perfectly manicured and edged, not a stray blade of grass to be found.

“There he is,” Larry said.

The black Escalade rolled to a gentle stop at the corner a few blocks down from them. Nice and easy. Then it made a casual turn in the other direction, moving away from them.

Larry grunted in surprise.

These fat cats didn’t like to stop for stop signs. Nine times out of ten they just slowed down a little bit, then drove on through. Guys he knew called it a California Stop.

He rubbed his chin, thoughtfully.

His theory was that it all boiled down to an inflated sense of entitlement. Somehow, in this modern world, these people had come to think that their money empowered them to do more than just purchase things. To them, money equaled privilege.

Fat wallets meant the rules didn’t apply to them. Hell, they made their own rules! They obliterated speed limits, demanded better tables, and always wanted quicker service.

The working stiffs had learned to pucker up and kiss their rich bottoms extra good, or risk being annihilated in online reviews and blasted in their neighborhood Facebook pages.

Yes. In this world, stopping at stop signs was optional.

Larry sighed softly and shook his head.

Maybe he was reading too much into it. Overanalyzing. He knew it was different for Nigel. Simpler. His partner thought it was fun, and he had no moral boundaries.

Perhaps Nigel is a psychopath, he considered, stealing a glance at his tapping, rubbing, shifting little friend; but in the end, that didn’t matter to him. He felt like he was, in his own strange way, bringing social justice to the greater Austin metropolitan area.

Of course … he enjoyed it a little bit, too.

“What about this dude’s wife?” Nigel asked.

Larry looked over at his partner.

“She’s a writer. Works from home. On her blog, she says she never wakes up before noon and writes romance stories all night.”

Nigel looked at Larry with raised eyebrows.

“She hot?”

Larry shook his head from side to side and grimaced.

“That’s too bad,” Nigel said, genuinely saddened by the news.

They kept watching and gave it another half hour to make sure the guy wasn’t coming back. They’d discovered in their escapades that people came back unexpectedly all the time. Always good to wait a few extra minutes.

“Ready?” Larry asked.

“What if she’s up early today?”

Larry shrugged. “Do what we have to, I guess.”

Nigel looked excited at that prospect.

They slid on their masks, eased out of the van, and walked quickly to the front door.

* * * * * *

They stopped in the foyer to get their bearings.

Sometimes there was a dog, or door chimes, that precipitated the need for swift action, but not today. The alarm pad glowed a comforting and benign green, and the only sound was the gentle hum of the air conditioning.

Larry didn’t see any cameras, which was both good and bad. Good because that meant less evidence, but bad because he enjoyed catching snippets of himself on the local news channels. It was both exciting and surreal, and stolen glances at his wife revealed that she hadn’t the faintest idea it was him.

They eased forward.

Office on one side. Dining room on the other. Both immaculate. Both empty. A few feet further and they were in the living room. A stone fireplace climbed twenty feet to the ceiling, while a rear wall full of windows offered a view of the backyard.

And, what a view it was!

There was an infinity pool with half a dozen lounge chairs, a stainless steel outdoor kitchen with a wet bar, and even a flat-screen television. Every necessity for unwinding after a tough day at the office, all nestled under the shade of an enormous red cedar arbor.

Larry realized he’d been holding his breath and exhaled. He looked sideways at his partner. Nigel’s eyes were like saucers, taking it in. It was the impossible dream … everything neither of them ever had.

Despite a lingering sense of awe, Larry took control of the situation. He grabbed Nigel’s arm and pointed toward what must be the master bedroom. Nigel snapped out of his trance, nodded, and held up the duct tape in his hand, eyes sparkling.

Game on.

They moved again, slow and cautious, until they reached the bedroom door. It was open slightly, just two or three inches, but he could see that it was pitch black. Larry pushed it open and led the way.

Slowly. So Slowly.

His eyes adjusted to the gloom, somewhat, and it looked like there was someone in bed, under the covers. He motioned Nigel forward until they were standing right next to the bed. Larry held his hand up in the shadows to count: three, two, one.

They ripped the comforter back…

And, uncovered a pile of pillows.

“What the…” Nigel whispered.

The light clicked on, and there was the very distinct sound of a shotgun shell being racked into the chamber.

“Well, what have we here?”

Larry and Nigel turned slowly, and Nigel’s eyes grew wide in surprise. It was the man from the hardware store.

“You!” he said.

The bearded guy chuckled and leveled the barrel at them, a look of cold, hard steel in his eyes.

“That’s right, asshole. Those were my keys.”

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Bart Hopkins
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Bart Hopkins

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Bart Hopkins:

Average Rating:


Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Wake Screaming
Average Rating:

Wake Screaming

Uncle Ron’s Funeral
Average Rating:

Uncle Ron’s Funeral

Recommended Reading:

The Untold
Song of the Living Dead
Too Spooky Tales: Book One: An Overturned Shrub (And Other Horror Icons)
Knifepoint Horror: The Transcripts, Volume 5

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skip to content