THE WRECK • by Linda M. Scott

Marcus Hook, PA, USA.

“Bobby. That Camaro that just came in. Go pull the radio. And the seats. Anything good on the body, mark it before Grover okays it for the crusher.” I nod my head and walk over the hill. From here it looks totaled. Nothing worth saving. Maybe the rear quarter panel. The sun glistens, and it’s hot as hell. I should’ve worn my shades. My thoughts drift to Nicki. Her birthday is coming up and she keeps dropping hints for an iPhone. She deserves it. Passing the wrecks; X’s line the roofs like tic-tac-toe.

They said a couple died in this one. No kidding. The roof looks like a smashed cockroach — the windshield, a spider web. How the hell am I going to get inside to pull the radio?

I throw my weight against the car, rock it to get the frame out of the dirt and with a crowbar, pry open the door. It creaks — metal grates against metal. Sweat streams down my forehead. The radio doesn’t look bad but the seats are one with the dash. There’s a lot of blood too.

I loosen a track under the bucket seat and move it sideways. The sun flashes inside as a white light blinds me. I squint as the object comes into view. Whoa! My stomach does a somersault. A withered bloody finger with a painted red nail, and a diamond sits royally on it. But I have seen worse. Splattered brains and hanging flesh from the headliners visit me in my dreams. I pop the ring off the withered digit and return the finger to its final resting place. My sweat-soaked shirt feels like ice. I gotta shake this off. This job can be the pits sometimes. I study the rock. It must be a carat!

Poor girl. Her idiot-to-be probably demonstrating this puppy’s power. Fast car, big diamond. Showoff. Too bad.

I should tell the old man, but then I’d have to hand it over to him. He hasn’t given me a raise in two goddamn years. After work, I could drive over to Lou’s pawn shop. We need the money, and my honey could have that phone. I’d even take her out to a nice restaurant. Why shouldn’t I keep this? It wouldn’t be for me. It’d be for Nicki. And it’s not like I’d hand her the diamond. God, it creeps me out just thinking about my baby wearing that.

Leaning against the car, the sun wraps its arms around me as I dream about the beach. I would have enough money for a getaway. My lady and I sprawled out on the sand — our bodies hot — drops of sweat rolling down between Nicki’s gargantuan breasts. Then we’d jump into the ocean — swimming away from everyone as she wraps her legs around my waist and… Whew.

But, what if one of the grief-stricken parents wanted the keepsake or needed the money? Nah. Besides, my boss has the title with the show-off’s name on it, and it wouldn’t go any further than the junkyard office if I turned it in. I have to keep this. Yep. That’s why I was the one to find it, and not the others. Joe and Grover would spend the cash on whores and pot. I’m doing the right thing. Sure I am.

Then again, Nicki will want to know how I got so much money. I’ll tell her the truth, eventually. She’ll get it. It’s not the first time I’ve found stuff. What about the gold chain I gave her last year? She didn’t have a problem knowing where that came from. I don’t even know why I’m thinking about this so hard. It was fate that I found this. Right?

Shoving the ring into my dirty jeans pocket, I ‘X’ the wreck.


Rooted in Philadelphia suburbia since she was a child, Linda M. Scott has used this gritty locale as the basis for many of her works. A graduate of UPenn in English and Creative Writing and award winner for her short story sealed her fate as a writer. Keep watch for her debut novel, “Widow of Arbor Heights”.


Rate this story:
 average 5 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • I like the way the crisis of conscience is told.

  • I like the way the crisis of conscience is told.

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    I didn’t believe the voice or the set-up. MC was a little too grammatically-correct here, and nobody in the families of the deceased would have ignored that missing ring finger. Accident-scene people would likely have hunted for a body part too. And the MC’s feeling “better I keep it than the boss who’s the only one who knows the name…” Sorry. Any local newspaper would have that. Easy to find online, and “modestly” accept a reward for turning the ring over. End of crisis. Two stars.

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    I didn’t believe the voice or the set-up. MC was a little too grammatically-correct here, and nobody in the families of the deceased would have ignored that missing ring finger. Accident-scene people would likely have hunted for a body part too. And the MC’s feeling “better I keep it than the boss who’s the only one who knows the name…” Sorry. Any local newspaper would have that. Easy to find online, and the MC could “modestly” accept a reward for turning the ring over. He certainly would have been offered one for a one-carat ring. End of crisis. Two stars.

  • Chris Antenen

    i like the way this builds to an unexpected outcome, We don’t know anything about the narrator except for what we can glean from his speech patterns,

    I don’t know if the old man was his boss or his father, but it doesn’t matter. His struggle with his conscience seems real, but he winds up on the wrong side, and the way he convinces himself is a little weak, even in the telling.

    I want to give this a 3 on moral grounds, but that’s not my job, so a strong 4 for the story construction. I can hear that voice iin my head — taking in the scene, making judgments about the event that brought the Camaro to the lot, and yet distracted by thoughts of his girlfriend. Eventually those thoughts win out, “She’ll get it. It’s not the first time I’ve found stuff. What about the gold chain I gave her last year?”

    Not an uplifting story, but probably more realistic than we would like to think.

  • Chris Antenen

    i like the way this builds to an unexpected outcome, We don’t know anything about the narrator except for what we can glean from his speech patterns,

    I don’t know if the old man was his boss or his father, but it doesn’t matter. His struggle with his conscience seems real, but he winds up on the wrong side, and the way he convinces himself is a little weak, even in the telling.

    I want to give this a 3 on moral grounds, but that’s not my job, so a strong 4 for the story construction. I can hear that voice iin my head — taking in the scene, making judgments about the event that brought the Camaro to the lot, and yet distracted by thoughts of his girlfriend. Eventually those thoughts win out, “She’ll get it. It’s not the first time I’ve found stuff. What about the gold chain I gave her last year?”

    Not an uplifting story, but probably more realistic than we would like to think.

  • I mostly agree with Sara about voice and believability. Re voice – I liked the tic-tac-toe reference but the “sun wraps its arms…” just doesn’t fit. I didn’t care for the word “withered” twice in the same para. And Niki’s “gargantuan breasts” didn’t add to the story, actually the entire para seems unneeded. The MC comes across as big of a jerk as the guy he keeps dissing. I would have prefered more conflict and struggle between conscience and action.

  • I mostly agree with Sara about voice and believability. Re voice – I liked the tic-tac-toe reference but the “sun wraps its arms…” just doesn’t fit. I didn’t care for the word “withered” twice in the same para. And Niki’s “gargantuan breasts” didn’t add to the story, actually the entire para seems unneeded. The MC comes across as big of a jerk as the guy he keeps dissing. I would have prefered more conflict and struggle between conscience and action.

  • S Conroy

    When it came to no-one knowing about the missing finger/diamond, I found it hard to suspend belief. But I liked the setting and was properly creeped by the ‘find’. And his thought processes in justifying his actions are all too twisted and believable.

  • S Conroy

    When it came to no-one knowing about the missing finger/diamond, I found it hard to suspend belief. But I liked the setting and was properly creeped by the ‘find’. And his thought processes in justifying his actions are all too twisted and believable.

  • terrytvgal

    An okay story, I suppose. a bit predictable but adequately written

  • terrytvgal

    An okay story, I suppose. Predictable but adequately written

  • Karen Roberts

    Haven’t we all struggled with right vs. wrong, good vs. evil? Bobby is human in his thoughts and actions. Well written and thought provoking. What would we do in the scenario?

  • Karen Roberts

    Haven’t we all struggled with right vs. wrong, good vs. evil? Bobby is human in his thoughts and actions. Well written and thought provoking. What would we do in the scenario?

  • george tamasi

    Great read, excellent visual references, dramatic throughout. Took me back to my hot rodding days and junk yard raids. Never found any fingers or jewelry though. Thanks.

  • george tamasi

    Great read, excellent visual references, dramatic throughout. Took me back to my hot rodding days and junk yard raids. Never found any fingers or jewelry though. Thanks.

  • Victoria K.

    Not an uplifting story, but yes the best stories aren’t in my opinion. Junkyard life tales/working class life/struggle need to be written. I want to know more about these characters.

  • Victoria K.

    Not an uplifting story, but yes the best stories aren’t in my opinion. Junkyard life tales/working class life/struggle need to be written. I want to know more about these characters.

  • I liked it! Gritty story, believable internal dialogue.

  • I liked it! Gritty story, believable internal dialogue.

  • Tibor Simic

    I disagree with the posters who claimed the ring couldn’t believably make it to the scrapyard. Most cops aren’t Gil Grissom; sometimes they miss bits of evidence. The ring might have been a recent gift that the family hadn’t seen yet. I can accept the find as a once-in-a-lifetime event, which is how the story uses it.

    (And for what it’s worth, my father, then an apprentice mechanic, found a whole human arm in the wreckage of a locomotive he was cutting for scrap metal. There were no diamond rings on it, though.)

    I also disagree with the posters who didn’t think the voice fit the character. Talent doesn’t depend on one’s socioeconomic status, and the ability to state his case eloquently and poetically enriches the character. I would have liked it less if the writer took the obvious, and boring, route, and created a stereotypical beer-swilling, wife-beating blue collar worker speaking in Faux Redneck from the Generic South.

    I do have two complaints of my own, a minor one and a major one. The minor one is the underprivileged protagonist daydreaming of a tropical holiday – that was already a cliché when Tom & Jerry parodied it in the 60s. A better thing would be to give the character something uniquely theirs to dream about, to add them depth and personality through a unique and original desire.

    The major one is that the ending is weak. Moral dilemmas work best in literature when the author explores how they affect the protagonist. Without consequences, the protagonist’s choice is weakened.

    Still, I believe the story’s strong points outweight the problems. It’s readable, engaging and immersive. It puts us inside the head of an interesting protagonist. Too often, flash fiction writers try to be too deep or too clever, and forget to be interesting in the process.

    Four stars.

  • Tibor Simic

    I disagree with the posters who claimed the ring couldn’t believably make it to the scrapyard. Most cops aren’t Gil Grissom; sometimes they miss bits of evidence. The ring might have been a recent gift that the family hadn’t seen yet. I can accept the find as a once-in-a-lifetime event, which is how the story uses it.

    (And for what it’s worth, my father, then an apprentice mechanic, found a whole human arm in the wreckage of a locomotive he was cutting for scrap metal. There were no diamond rings on it, though.)

    I also disagree with the posters who didn’t think the voice fit the character. Talent doesn’t depend on one’s socioeconomic status, and the ability to state his case eloquently and poetically enriches the character. I would have liked it less if the writer took the obvious, and boring, route, and created a stereotypical beer-swilling, wife-beating blue collar worker speaking in Faux Redneck from the Generic South.

    I do have two complaints of my own, a minor one and a major one. The minor one is the underprivileged protagonist daydreaming of a tropical holiday – that was already a cliché when Tom & Jerry parodied it in the 60s. A better thing would be to give the character something uniquely theirs to dream about, to add them depth and personality through a unique and original desire.

    The major one is that the ending is weak. Moral dilemmas work best in literature when the author explores how they affect the protagonist. Without consequences, the protagonist’s choice is weakened.

    Still, I believe the story’s strong points outweight the problems. It’s readable, engaging and immersive. It puts us inside the head of an interesting protagonist. Too often, flash fiction writers try to be too deep or too clever, and forget to be interesting in the process.

    Four stars.

  • David

    I’ve read other works by this author and she wins me over with every story. The Wreck presents itself as an intriguing thought experiment and I loved that she was able to fit such an interesting moral quandary in under 1000 words. I’m not sure how anyone can be so certain about the voice of the protagonist not being right; my grandfather was a mechanic and spoke more eloquently than anyone I know. And can you feel his greed and low-income predicament at the same time? Absolutely. Well-done.

  • David

    I’ve read other works by this author and she wins me over with every story. The Wreck presents itself as an intriguing thought experiment and I loved that she was able to fit such an interesting moral quandary in under 1000 words. I’m not sure how anyone can be so certain about the voice of the protagonist not being right; my grandfather was a mechanic and spoke more eloquently than anyone I know. And can you feel his greed and low-income predicament at the same time? Absolutely. Well-done.

  • Lightbright

    I think the plausibility issue needs to be taken care of like the ring being found in a crevice but that’s minor. I felt it ended abruptly. I was just getting into his crisis of conscience. I’d like to see more. Thanks for posting.

  • Lightbright

    I think the plausibility issue needs to be taken care of like the ring being found in a crevice but that’s minor. I felt it ended abruptly. I was just getting into his crisis of conscience. I’d like to see more. Thanks for posting.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    The dilemma played out well. Recently I found a pennant in the aisle of a cinema. I thought might be gold and was not willing to leave it with the cinema staff. To cut a long story short, the pennant was gold, I reunited it with its owner, it had great sentimental value and I felt pretty good about myself. So this story resonated with me, even though a little voice in my head was wondering how much I could make off the pennant.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    The dilemma played out well. Recently I found a pennant in the aisle of a cinema. I thought it might be gold and was not willing to leave it with the cinema staff. To cut a long story short, the pennant was gold, I reunited it with its owner, it had great sentimental value and I felt pretty good about myself. So this story resonated with me, even though a little voice in my head was wondering how much the pennant would be worth.