It's alive! ALIVE!
Not to pat myself on the back too much, but I've just successfully completed my first go at major automotive surgery. My Metro died suddenly in the Safeway parking lot some months ago, and while an electrical transfusion kept it alive long enough for it to stagger home to our apartment complex, it finally expired for good shortly thereafter.
But we'd just replaced the battery, which led me to tap my wading-pool-deep knowledge base of cars and conlude that something called an "alternator" might be at fault. So I bought one of those comprehensive Metro fix-it manuals from E-Bay for $9 and found out how to find and remove the alternator. Then yesterday, I drove to South Tucson, to a compact car graveyard run by some good-natured but blatantly shady salvage merchants. They got me another Metro alternator, which cost me an arbitrary $45 (more if I wanted a reciept!). And so this morning, I reattached it, and it seems to work. FrankenMetro is once again squealing with life!
Next operation: brake pads! Ivan, dig me up some fresh pads! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!
And thanks for the job recommendations. And despite the above, I think I've ruled out mechanic. I'm not sure I'm ruthless enough.