“Mr. Batch?”

“That’s me.” An old, grey-haired man folded his magazine and stood up. “I need to ask you something about your brakes,” I said. “Out here.”

I held the glass door open and we walked into the heat.

“It’s not too bad,” I picked up his Honda’s right brake rotor and pointed to the notched side. “These grooves shouldn’t really be here. This means your brake pads were so worn down, the fixture they’re attached to was actually cutting into this side.”

“Oh,” he said. “I guess that’s what the grinding noise was.”

I chuckled. “Yeah, that would definitely make a grinding noise.”

He blinked and looked up at me, then at the right rotor in my hand and the left rotor on the table.

“How much is it to fix these?” He wiped his forehead.

“Well, we can do two things. The cheapest is to grind down the rest of this side. We’ll definitely change out the pads, but this rotor’s got to be smooth for the car to stop right.”

He looked at me, “And the other option is to completely replace it?”

“Right, yeah.”

“Won’t I have to replace it anyway?”

“Yeah, but evened out they can last another month or two.”

His gaze drifted back to the rotor on the table and he wiped his face off. “I just wanted to give you the option,” I said.

He turned toward me with his eyes still on that other rotor then looked at me. “How come this one in your hand is worse than the one on the table?” he asked.

“Oh, well, this one is from the driver’s side,” I said. He still seemed confused.

“It’s more worn down because there’s more weight on this half of the car,” I explained, “because you mostly drive alone, right?”

He wiped his face again and looked at the rotor, then turned to walk back into the waiting room.

“Just do new ones, that’s fine.”

In the waiting room, he tossed the magazine onto a table and sat down.

Austin Havican lives in Houston, Texas. He has contributed writing and comics to Grown-Up Story Time, Hideous Friends, The Noir Project, and The Daily Cougar. His favorite words are “haphazard” and “whiskey.”