Greetings WYMOP fans!
I realize this post is incredibly late - so late it's almost early for next week - and I apologize. I blame technology, which, as we all know, is not my friend. On Saturday night, as I was working on WYMOP, actually, my laptop, which has been struggling along ever since I stopped going to the Tape Guy (see the WYMOP post titled "You Know What? Tape.") finally gave up the ghost, I think, having contracted a virus it can no longer fight off in its weakened condition.
I've spent some time installing my back-up laptop (which also has issues, just different issues) in its place and trying to get caught up with all the stuff I am now behind on. Once this post is up I can get to reviewing the suggested edits on a story I have coming out, going over the consignment contract for a local bookstore, and continuing the revision/editing of a novel. Oh, and writing this week's Friday Fright and Blog Post.
So without further ado, here's the story:
~ ~ * * ~ ~
If you know me, if you know anything about me, you know I’m always late. For everything and anything. I miss the beginnings of movies, I get to the doctor’s office right at the time of my appointment rather than the prescribed 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork, I clock into work late. It’s not that I don’t care, that wherever I’m going and whoever I’m on my way to see aren’t that important; it’s just that I fall behind. Sometimes it’s even not my fault.
It was a tan Kia.
There was a woman in the driver’s seat, but at first all I saw was the tail end of a tan Kia.
And it wasn’t moving.
I was on the way to pick up my son, Handsome, when he got out of school. Now, I have been late for picking him up before, often enough that when there’s no one there to pick him up the other parents just know it’s my turn to pick him up and call my cell phone rather than calling his mom. I’m always on my way — I’ve never been more than five minutes out at the time of the call, even though I’m coming in from the next town over to make the pick-up.
I’d been doing better recently, quite well for me in fact, having been there early and waiting the past three times I was picking him up. Today I wasn’t going to be very early, but I was on schedule to be on time, and I was cruising along through the rainy day on my way to the school.
Oh yeah, did I mention it was raining? Okay, well it was raining, a further impetus to getting there on time and not leaving Handsome standing out there in the grass behind the schoolyard. So I was doing fine, buzzing through puddles and just trying not to hydroplane on the corners, keeping one eye in the dashboard clock the whole time.
Then I saw the Kia.
The Kia was at an intersection with a four-way stop. Not a traffic light, where there might have been a ‘No Turn on Red’ sign, but a simple four-way stop.
And it was stopped.
There was no cross-traffic. There was no one else waiting at the intersection, no one who the Kia might have been waiting for, nothing like that. There was nothing at all I could see that might have necessitated such a lengthy pause in one’s driving. The directional was on, indicating the Kia’s driver had every intention of taking a right, just as I was going to... there was just no indication they were going to do it any time today.
I wish I had noticed all this while there was still time. I wish I had not been over-confident in my ability to get to the school on time with a minute or so to spare from where I was at that time. But I wasn’t really paying attention, wasn’t trying to guess my fellow driver’s intentions, and I pulled right up behind the Kia, my own turn indicator just tick-tick-tick-ing away.
And the Kia sat there.
I could see the silhouette of the driver through the rear window, could see her turning to look to the left for oncoming traffic. I had turned to look for it myself, anticipating a quick pass through the crossroads. I could see all the way down the road to the next crossroad in that direction, maybe a half-mile away. What I could not see was any cars, either coming or going, in that direction.
And the Kia sat there.
I edged up a little, got right up on her bumper, a clear signal that I had places to go and she might want to get the hell out of my way. I looked left again, I mean really looked, staring down that road rather than taking just a quick look, thinking maybe I’d missed something. Maybe there was a small car, a motorcycle, hell, even a bicycle that the Kia woman was waiting for.
There was nothing.
And the Kia sat there.
I threw the Jeep into reverse, the plan having being to back up just enough so I’d have room to drive around.
The Kia started to roll forward.
I sliped the gearshift back into Drive and snugged right up behind it, trying to push it up into second gear through sheer force of will.
The Kia stopped.
I began to swear. I threw the Jeep into reverse again, then checked my rear-view mirror — just in time to see a car slide into the space behind me. The dude had snugged right up on me, so close I had a clear view of the surprise on his face when my back-up lights came on less than a foot from his bumper. I put the Jeep back in Drive.
I began to swear louder.
The Kia edged forward.
I edged forward.
The Kia stopped.
I stopped. If God was paying attention right then (as He always is, I know) He saw a prayer coming up the pipe wishing fervently for a stroke to hit the woman in the tan Kia. Or maybe a heart-attack. At the very least a record-setting case of explosive diarhea. He ignored my requests and I noted then that the woman was looking off to her left, as if waiting for oncoming traffic. I too looked left.
There it was, tiny in the distance.
A car, really just a shiny spot on the road from this remove, was making its way up the street toward us.
I looked at the car. I looked at the distance between it and us, as we apparently waited to let it pass. I looked at the car again, noting the speed with which it was traversing the aforementioned distance, and made some rough calculations. By my estimation the car would reach us by August.
I looked again at the woman driving — pardon me, I mispoke, I meant sitting in — the tan Kia. I could see her face, in profile, as she kept a sharp eye on the allegedly approaching vehicle. I saw her almost beatific expression as she sat there, sublime in the knowledge that she was the safest, most conscientious motor vehicle operator in all of the known universe and beyond, and my heart shriveled in my chest like the Grinch in the ‘before’ picture.
Behind me the car riding my bumper began to lean on the horn.
I’m pretty sure I heard a great Chuckle coming back down that prayer-pipe. Ha-ha, God.
Eventually, as the Seasons pass so did the car we were waiting for, and with nearly as much speed. The matched set of brake lights that had been sitting in front of me for so long suddenly winked out. I started, confused by this sudden disappearance of Barry and Hyacinth (yes, we had been there together for so long I had given them names), but then, to my utter astonishment, the Kia started to move, kept moving, and actually rounded the corner!
With a whoop that would have been the pride of any cowboy on the circuit I threw the Jeep in Drive. I threw a quick but triumphant wave toward the car behind me (He had, at some point during the long wait, gotten married and had a few kids. His wife had mounted flower boxes to the bumpers, both front and back, and she was out there with a watering can while their two girls and one son played hopscotch on the nearby sidewalk. They all returned my wave with waves of their own as well as wistful little smiles. I find sometimes that I miss them.) and I stepped on the gas. The Jeep lurched into motion, rounded the corner... and came to a stop.
Behind the tan Kia.
There were two cars on the other side of the road, coming from the other direction. Both with turn signals flashing, both trying to get into the parking lot to my right. The Kia driver, Ms. Safe and Conscientious, had her arm out the window and was waving for the first car to cross in front of her and enter the lot. The driver of the first car had his arm out the window, waving for her to just continue on, clearly indicating that he wanted to just cross behind all the backed up traffic... mainly me.
She waved. He waved. She waved again. They were locked in a battle of waving, and will, and I knew exactly who would break first.
I blacked out. I have a vague recollection of hanging out my own window to the waist so I could gesture with both hands. And possibly one foot. There was shouting. There was screaming. The name of God was invoked in connection with the re-positioning of certain people’s entrails taking up a nice comfy position in the passenger’s seat next to them. Safely seat-belted in, of course. I have a dreamlike memory of cars moving, of single fingers being raised in celebration of my passing by, of the world bluring around me as I drove on at ludicrous speed.
|(yep, Spaceballs reference right there)|
I’m fairly certain I went back in time.
My next clear memory is of pulling up to the curb behind the school, I was out of breath, disheveled, and, so far as I could tell, not guilty of vehicular homicide.
Almost always a good thing, that last bit.
The passenger’s side door opened. Handsome threw himself into the seat, slamming the door behind himself. He shook some rain out of his hair, tossed his backpack into the backseat, and looked at me.
“You’re late,” he said.
Slowly I turned...
Talk to you later!
Oh, and for your enjoyment: Maru!