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Check Engine by Mark Reep | Word Riot
Flash Fiction

July 15, 2010      

Check Engine by Mark Reep

Listen to a podcast of Mark Reep’s “Check Engine.”

“How’s the Pinto running?” Sean says. It’s been awhile. Maybe Darcy won’t remember him.

She’s emptying the trashcan at the coffee counter. She ties the bag’s drawstring, straightens. “Fine, last I knew.”

Sean likes the sound of that.

She tucks her hair behind her ear, looks at the register: “Pump Four? Twenty dollars?”


She taps keys, tucks his twenty in the drawer.

He takes a shot. “Sorry things didn’t work out.”

She gives him a look, bangs the drawer shut. “Like it’s any of your business.”

Sean spreads his hands, sorry. “You’re right. Just hoping.”

“You mean fishing?”

“Yeah, I should’ve just asked. –So, you dumped Pinto Boy, huh? That been better?”

“Pinto Boy?” She might be amused.

“While I’m rollin’,” Sean says, “would you like to go out sometime?”

She shakes her head. “I’m keeping to myself right now.”

Sean’s heard that before. “Sure,” he says. “Well, good seein’ you.”

She nods. “I don’t know your name.”

“Sean,” he says.

The backdoor opens, a blonde woman comes in. Drops a clipboard on the counter, rubs her hands together. “Dang it’s cold. You wanna do the front pumps? I’ll watch the register.”

Darcy’s pulling on a battered leather jacket.

“Hey, be good,” Sean says.

She’s dragging the garbagebag. “Can you hold the door?”

“Lemme,” Sean says, and reaches for the bag.

“I got it.” She’s so close. Her hair smells good.

The blonde woman laughs a smoker’s laugh. “A gentleman. Let him have it, girl.”

Darcy lets go, straightens. “All yours.”

“Whoa,” Sean says. “Whatcha got in here, engine blocks?”

The blonde likes that too. Maybe he should ask her out.


Sean’s in the truck digging for his keys when Darcy comes out with the clipboard. She crosses to the pumps– No, she’s coming to the truck. Sean rolls down the window.

“Izzair a problem, Offisher?”

She smiles a little, shakes her head. Writes something, hands him a Quikfill coffee card. He turns it over. Darcy. A cell number.

“Thank you,” Sean says.

“For what, exactly?”

“For takin’ a chance. You’ll not regret it. My word.”

She studies him. She’d make a good poker player. A bat flits across the pumplights, there and gone.

“Okay,” she says. She steps up onto the island.

Sean finds the truck key. The starter grunts. The Check Engine light blinks. Come on, start.

About the author:

Mark Reep is an artist and writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in online and print publications including American Art Collector, Endicott Journal, Gloom Cupboard, Ink Sweat & Tears, Prick of the Spindle, Art Graphica, Word Riot, Full of Crow, Moon Milk Review, Girls with Insurance,, Smash Cake, A-Minor, Blink/Ink. He lives and works in New York’s Fingerlakes region.

    2 comments to Check Engine by Mark Reep

    • Pretty good. Pretty good. I like the rapid, staccato style. It fits the situation. He gets another chance with her. That’s the significant event. Then you add on the open-ended ending. Will the truck start. Yeah, I’d love to have this story in my magazine.

    • Jump

      This story was something that happens in live everyday. I was confused about the whole relevance of the engine light coming on and the truck not starting though. Other then that this story was straight forward and to the point and was set up very easy to read.

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