The Viral Mechanic by Steve Gergley

Shortly after his appearance on the game show, the mechanic became a meme on the internet. It was a strange time. At the peak of his odd fame, a twenty-two year-old influencer from Twitch showed up at his shop with a camera crew. The girl, who was dressed in cheap pink flip-flops, a pair of baggy pajama pants, and a stomach-baring crop top, asked him to service her Porsche 911 Turbo. But since the mechanic was not certified to service Porsches, he politely declined. The influencer was pleased. Now she reached into her giant pockets and removed two wads of rolled up hundred-dollar bills. The influencer placed the two wads of cash on the ground in front of the mechanic and said she would pay him two-hundred thousand dollars to fix her car live on stream. The mechanic looked at the money and then back up at the girl. Seeing those wads of money, the mechanic felt trapped and angry. Since his game show appearance had aired two weeks ago, everyone knew he had lost this exact sum on a common-sense question related to car repair. And as if that hadn’t been bad enough, his grotesque smile of anguish that followed this great disappointment was quickly freeze-framed and spread across the internet ad infinitum, propelling him to the ridiculous and infuriating fame he now experienced.

With these thoughts in mind, the mechanic declined the influencer’s offer once again, being careful to not betray a single droplet of emotion. But the influencer persisted. She asked him why he couldn’t try to fix the car anyway to see what would happen. She said she didn’t care about the vehicle as long as she could film him. She said she would give him the money either way, even if he smashed the Porsche into two-hundred thousand pieces and threw them into a chemical fire. But the mechanic had stopped listening. Without another word he turned around, darted through the back door of his shop, climbed into his 2021 Honda Civic, and peeled out down the street, leaving the influencer, her baggy pajama pants, and her two-hundred thousand dollars behind. Minutes later, as he took the turn onto Smoke and pushed his Honda to eighty, he huffed a hard exhale and glanced in his rear-view mirror. But instead of the road and the trees behind, he saw his clownish, grotesque, and beautifully odd smile staring back at him.

Biography: Steve Gergley is the author of The Great Atlantic Highway & Other Stories (Malarkey Books ’24), Skyscraper (West Vine Press ’23), and A Quick Primer on Wallowing in Despair (Leftover Books ’22). His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Maudlin House, Always Crashing, Gone Lawn, Rejection Letters, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fiction can be found at: