A Short Story by Alene

 As Blayre rounded the corner into the Best Buy parking lot, she heard a strange noise. What had she hit? Pulling into a parking place, she stepped out to look.

 Tears welled up in her eyes. This day was turning out to be a disaster. Now she wasn’t going to have time to buy her sister the I-Pod Touch, she had planned on giving her that evening.

Her back tire was flat. She had no clue how to change it. Getting back into her car, she grabbed her cell phone to call a tire shop. A few minutes later, she caught movement in her side view mirror. A man was kneeling beside her car. The service man is here, she sighed in relief, and jumped out.

“Thank you for coming so quickly,” she said.

He looked up with a smile.

“Channing Tatum?” she gasped.

“’Fraid not.” There was that smile again. “Ryan’s the name.”

“Of course, you’re not Channing Tatum. If you were, you wouldn’t be changing my tire.”

“You got that right.”

“Has anyone ever told you there is a remarkable resemblance?” She couldn’t stop staring.

“That’s what they say,” he admitted. “At school, girls are constantly mistaking me for him. They think he‘s filming a movie on campus.”

“Do you go to CU here in Boulder? I graduated from there a couple of years ago.”

“I’m getting my Doctorate in Physical Therapy and work at the tire shop part time.”

“I’ve been looking for a new doctor.”

“I won’t be a medical doctor,” he explained. “Just a doctor in physical therapy.”

“I still might need you. I do ski a lot.” I wouldn’t mind those hands working on me.

“I’m sorry,” she said, realizing he had asked her a question. “I didn’t catch that.”

“What did you major in?”

“Elementary Ed. I teach at Uni Hills Elementary.” She glanced at her phone to check the time. “How long is this going to take? I’m on my lunch break and I have to get back.”

“Looks like you might need a new tire.” He frowned as he examined it.

“I don’t understand how this could have happened. I was just turning the corner into the parking lot.”

“I won’t know until I get it back to the shop and have a closer look.”

“How much is a tire going to cost?” she asked.

“Around a hundred.”

“A hundred! I was on my way to Best Buy to get an I-Pod Touch for my sister. She’s in the hospital.”

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“A car accident. I thought an I-Pod would cheer her up and give her something to do while she recovers. If I need a new tire, I won’t be able to buy her one.”

Including the service call, one hundred fifty dollars of the money she had saved would be gone.

He gave her a sympathetic smile as he lifted the spare tire out from under the floor of the trunk. It was the smallest tire she had ever seen.

“Oh, no,” she sighed.

“What’s wrong now?” he asked.

“The dealership must have given me the wrong spare. It’s obviously too small for my car. It must belong to one of those Smart Cars. I suppose one of them is running around with my spare in it.”

Ryan threw his head back and laughed.

What had she said that was so funny?

When he finally caught his breath, he explained.

“This is the right size. It’s only for driving to a repair shop so you can either pay to fix your flat or buy a new one.”

“Why would they do that?” she asked.

He shrugged. “I don’t know. To save money, I guess.”

“That doesn’t make sense. They want to save a hundred on a car that costs twenty thousand? What a rip off to the consumer. If I would have known that, I would have bought a car with a regular sized spare tire.”

His mouth twitched as though he was trying not to smile. Turning quickly, he threw the flat tire into the back of his truck.

“Follow me to the shop and I’ll put a new tire on. Then you can get back to school.”

Twenty minutes later, Ryan called her to the counter. “Here’s the invoice. It came to one hundred and three dollars.”

She glanced over the bill as she handed him her credit card.

“How much is the service call? I don’t see it on the invoice.”

“I’ll tell you what. I won’t charge you the service call, if you’ll have dinner with me tonight.”

Startled, she looked up. Maybe this day wasn’t a disaster after all, she thought as she accepted. Channing Tatum had just asked her out for dinner.

Well…actually, Ryan had.

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