The last thirty-six seconds of Finbar Web’s marriage ended fifteen minutes ago. He had counted them, each second leaving a stale taste on his lips. His former wife, Ava Addison, had left a thirty-six second voice message on his cell phone, stating that she was going back to New Zealand to stay with her extended family. She said she was taking the pink mustang he had bought for her on their honeymoon, but how she was taking the car to New Zealand, Finbar didn’t know. There was no regret in her voice, though there wasn’t blame or hatred either. Finbar didn’t know why his wife had left him and it was only now that he realized he didn’t know much about Ava at all. After all, they were only married for six months, nine- teen days, seven hours, twelve minutes, and thirty-six seconds.
Fifteen minutes later Finbar found himself walking back from work, his short skinny legs leading him like a leashed dog to his car. Finbar put his Prius in reverse, backed out of the parking lot, and was soon on the highway.
Finbar Web isn’t a particularly interesting man, and in his late thirties he wasn’t going to get much more interesting. He’s on the small side in terms of height and in other things. Seven days a week, Finbar works as a plant breeder, and how he had married an exotic New Zealand girl was one of the favorite guessing games his colleagues liked to play. He was never included, nor did he know the answer to their question. Nonetheless Finbar was a good husband and like any good husband, he loved his wife.
Finbar was trying to forget about Ava by listening to his favorite radio program called Daily Dylan on WUMB. Unfortunately for Finbar, he was only on the road for seven minutes when his car broke down. Like everything in Finbar ’s life, it happened very slowly; the car trudging into the breakdown lane like a lame horse. Just as he was getting out of his car, a bright green Mini Cooper pulled up in front of his Prius, and from it emerged a petite wom- an with strawberry blonde hair.
“Need any help?” she said with a soft but confident voice.
“Yes, I think so, thanks.” Finbar replied, “I don’t know how it happened, first the car was running fine, then it just gave up on me I guess.”
“Here let me take a look, I’m a mechanic.” As the front lights of the antiquated Prius caught her face, he noticed that she was clearly an attractive woman, and not someone who looked at all like a mechanic. She noticed the surprise on his face.
“I know, I don’t look like a car mechanic.” she said, as if she had experienced this moment before.
Finbar let out a short laugh, “No its just that my car is in total shit and here you are, a car mechanic.” Finbar usually didn’t swear, and when he did the words would tumble off his tongue awkwardly and hang in the air until someone else would think of something better to say. This time, however, the cuss sounded casual and practiced.
“Well let’s see what I can do.” She opened the hood of the car and had only glanced at the engine before quickly turning away. “You’re transmission is locked up.”
“Is their any fixing it?”
“No, your not going to be able drive another ten yards with your Prius” She said the last word with a playful emphasis. Finbar caught on.
“Hey, this Prius is the best car anyone could ask for.”
“Yes I can see that.”
“But I guess this seems like it might be coming to the end of its road.”
“Yeah, I think its about time you buy a new car.”
“Anything but a Prius, I’m Riley by the way.” She offered up her hand, and Finbar took it graciously. As they shook, Finbar ’s eyes met hers for the first time, and it was then that Finbar found himself unexplainably attached to Riley and everything about her. The way her energetic eyes danced up and down Finbar ’s appearance, the soft skin of her hand on his, and the way her smile slip slided across her face. Finbar began to drown in his sudden love for Riley. He forgot what they were talking about, forgot, for the first time, his wife Ava, his broken car and why they were shaking hands. It took him a moment too long to respond.
“I’m... Finbar.” And in that moment he knew his emotions were etched permanently on his face, for Riley’s eyebrows began to ark and her cheeks began to flush. She knew he liked her. He knew that she knew he liked her. Even the two cars and empty highway knew that she knew that he knew that she knew that he knew he liked her.
“Well Finbar, you seem like a nice guy.”
“I hope so.” Finbar said quickly, recovering like a fighter on the ropes, only to throw himself down again, “Maybe we could go for a drink sometime?” The words scrambled from his mouth and hung pathetically in the air. Riley smiled genuinely, “Thanks Fin-
bar, but I don’t think my girlfriend would approve.”
“Girlfriend? Wow, That’s... great.” Finbar couldn’t help but smile and soon he and Riley were laughing. Yet, A peculiar expression was passing across Riley’s face, she cocked her head to one side, looking at Finbar with a new intent.
“Well Finbar, this might be your lucky night.”
“Really?” Finbar said, not knowing where this outlandish conversation could possible be going.
“Really, my girlfriend and I have been dating for a little over six months and we were just talking about- well, you can guess.”
“Wow, Riley, I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t? I thought most guys would.” Finbar wasn’t like most guys, but nonetheless he agreed after a moment’s hesitation. As they walked to her Mini Cooper, He found it a little peculiar that Riley had just invited him to her home, and how easily his legs were carrying him to his car, but nonetheless he got into the front seat, determined not to mess up the most anomalous day of his life. Consequently, he banged his knee smartly on something cold and metallic.
“You have a baseball bat?
“Softball bat, actually.”
“You’re not going to beat me and dump me in a ditch are you?” Finbar had never been talented in the arts of flirtation. Riley let out a short polite laugh,
“Of course not.”
“Oh, well that is a relief.”
Finbar found himself extremely comfortable with Riley, her soft voice and flirtatious
smile set him at ease and soon they developed a rhythmic conversation. Finbar had never re-
ally flirted with a girl, even with his wife Ava. And it was only until now that Finbar realized
he had never really done anything with his wife, except buy her the pink Mustang she had
wanted. Finbar liked talking to Riley and couldn’t help but tell her about the voice message
his former wife had left him. After he was done, Riley could hardly drive she was laughing
“Sorry Finbar.” she spluttered, finally getting control of herself. “This must be the most
bizarre day you have ever had.”
“Yeah that’s for sure, nothing like this has ever happened to me before... What about
you? Do you pick up guys like me regularly?”
“Oh no, you’re the first I promise and besides tonight is a special occasion, were cel-
ebrating. Look were here,” she said as she pulled onto her street.
“Celebrating, sounds fun, whats the occasion?” Finbar replied, his heart began to beat
faster with anticipation.
“Well my partner just got her green card actually.” Riley said these words as the Mini
Cooper swerved into the driveway. The last of the sun had gone down, waving a farewell to
Finbar. The moon was becoming more noticeable in the clear night’s sky. Finbar noticed, and
craned his neck upwards to look at the half moon. Tonight it was bent over in a stupor, each
end pointing towards opposite ends of earth. Finbar looked back down towards the drive-
“A green card, how interesting, where is she-”. He didn’t finish his sentence. His eyes saw what had been waiting for him in the driveway. The pink Mustang sat there, casual and all knowing, the front bumper stretched into a thin-lipped smile, chortling at Finbar ’s com- plete incognizance. He sat there, ossified, his mind struggling to connect all that had hap- pened during his deranged night.
Finally he understood and immediately his veins pulsed with pure white hot anger.
It bubbled over him, pent up from thirty years of being boring, average, and lame. His eyes
bulged, a hysterical high-pitched laughter he never thought could be his combusted from his
For a second that lasted an eternity, Finbar sat in the soft kangaroo leather of the mini
cooper: eyes bulging and mouth frothing. Next moment, he yanked the softball bat lying
next to him and leapt out of the car. With one stride he was at the car ’s side and without
hesitation he smashed the bat into each window, one after another, shattering glass onto the
cold cement ground. Next went the bumper followed by the hood of the car, each crumpling
inwards like his ruined relationship. His hands flew wildly back and forth in rapid succes-
sion and with each crack of the bat and dent in the car, Finbar drew in a deep satisfaction.
Two minutes later, Ava Addison was drawn from her new and permanent house to the com- motion; she stood on the porch, absorbed in Finbar ’s violent dance of belligerence with a fixated fascination, not once attempting to stop him.
Seven and a half minutes later the police showed up. Finbar didn’t resist arrest. Hand-
cuffs snapped into place. Miranda Rights were read. Finbar was lead to the stocky police
car and while his head was being pushed down into the back seat, his eyes found Ava’s. She
stood there, head cocked to one side, staring at Finbar with an intense interest no one in Fin-
bar ’s life had ever done before.
Next moment, the car was speeding off towards the brighting moon. The tires chewing
up the pebbled road, spitting the stones back out to Ava and Riley, Finbar ’s final farewell.