Ngo 38.4

Our narrow tributary floods into a river of traffic, 6 lanes wide, and it’s time for the truck to end its tow. My good samaritan gives me a final push and yells above the fray of the street

My shop is here!

She points around the corner as I slow to a halt and hop off the bike. I walk it to the front of the shop and stand awkwardly, not sure what to do with myself.

The gentleman who must be the head mechanic pauses his wrestling match with a disassembled Honda to size me up, greasy rag in hand and a wrench that seems two sizes too small. He eyes our bike, as she arrives to rescue me, translating what she knows on my behalf.

He nods, cursory. Barks a couple orders to his assistant. Goes back to work on his project. The younger mechanic grins and approaches me, bright red plastic stool, square, in hand.


No, cam on! I’m ok!

I wave him off with a smile.

Given where I’ve just been, I need to stand and catch my breath.

I step back,

just off the curb,

out of the way.

I just need to watch, for now.

This day, without a doubt, has been about magic.

Not the stuff of a fairy tale, or the stage.

This is everyday magic.

The kind that we can only see when we step back,

just off the curb

out of the way.

He wheels my bike onto the curb in front of the shop, all arrayed with motorbike parts, various assembled and disassembled scooters, and three mechs, hard at work. I’m not sure exactly what comes next, but I keep my mouth shut and observe.

He hovers our ride on kickstand, rear wheel suspended. He attempts to make the back wheel move and finds nothing yet again. Utters a few words to the boss and gets to work.

Working magic.

And in this moment, at a garage, I think back.

Jon was our go-to mechanic. Great guy, knew his stuff. But invariably, when the car was in the shop, the same response

Yeah, it’s a <insert random mechanical issue here>. That’s gonna be uh…$800

and the next time

Well, there’s an issue with your <insert random mechanical issue here>. That’s gonna be uh…$800

and so it went.

Regardless of malady, we always seemed to end up charging the visa close to a grand.

Cars are expensive

And, so.

As I watch the capable hands of this skilled apprentice pull apart the front panel to expose a series of wires, I’m quietly sure

This magic show ain’t gonna cost $800.

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. Love the ambiguity of this post. ( ). I don’t have to know the malady to appreciate the magic. Great storytelling with a just right pacing/tension that kept me wondering and reading on!


  2. Everyday magic. Yes. It’s there, if only we’re looking. I also love the way you keep the river metaphor flowing (see what I did there?) throughout your slices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I was thinking this would be one slice but it’s kind of morphed in front of my eyes. Treating it as a work in progress but your feedback about magic definitely pointed me in a direction. 😉


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