Monday, October 7, 2013

Nun Better...

Hi there WYMOP fans!

Late again, I know, I know. I'm sorry. In my defense it has been a crazy couple of weekends here: last weekend was the Granite State Comicon, while this week was the Harvard Bookstore Warehouse Weekend, so I spent both weekends helping man the New England Horror Writers' sale table having loads of fun and selling oodles of my books... if by 'oodles' you mean three or four a day. Maybe. Almost enough to pay for the gas I used to get to the events, but it was a lot of fun anyway.

So here's my post, late again, as I said. My apologies to my reader.

...and, here's the story:

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So there I was: pausing momentarily at an intersection, and according to the click-click-click of my directional I was going to take a left. I was all alone there, the only other car in sight coming straight up to the other side of the intersection. They were no worry for me, though —  it was a four-way-stop, and they wren’t even here yet. I eased off the brake and onto the gas and started through my turn.

— and that other car actually sped up a bit and blew off the stop sign, cutting me off as they took a right.

My tires gave a little chirp as I stomped on the brake, and I came within an inch or two of taking a bite out of the steering wheel as my jeep jerked to a halt. I started out with “Son of a bitch”, and the language would have gone downhill from there if I hadn’t been so shocked. I’d gotten a quick glimpse of the driver as the car blew past me, just inches from my grill. It had been quick, but like I said it hadn’t been from that far away, and it had been… it was...

It was a nun.

The black habit, the white wimple, the whole thing had flashed by as she cut me off like a sixteen year-old boy trying to impress the girl in the passenger’s seat. I sat there for a second or two, just letting it sink in and watching her car rapidly disappearing in the distance... then stepped on the gas and went after her.

I wanted to see this flying nun in action.

Wanting and doing, however, are two different things. I leaned on the gas, and I’ll admit I was speeding, going fast even for me. This was Massachusetts after all, where speed limits are more like suggestions and students here major in math just so they can explain their way out of the ticket, but I was going fast enough that I was actually nervous about getting spotted by the police.

I may be cool, but God is not my co-pilot.

I couldn’t catch her. I could see her up ahead, and there weren’t any traffic lights that slowed me down, but I just couldn’t catch her. She lefted. She righted. She lefted again, all of it with a smooth minimum of deceleration that left me struggling simply not to lose her, nevermind actually catching up. I kept picturing a little old lady in my mind: wearing a habit, with a bobble-Jesus mounted on the dash as a nice counterpoint to the death’s head shifter knob clenched in her gnarled and arthritic hand.

Finally, a straightaway! Though in my imagination a cop lurked behind every tree and bush along the way, I put the hammer down and started to gain on her. There was a part of me that reveled in the chase, feeling a burst of pride at even this small success; but there was another part of me, a smooth, logical part that thought it was just all kinds of smart, that pointed out that though I was chasing, she was, technically, not running, and actually had no idea I was back here with her tail lights in my mental cross-hairs.

And still she almost lost me.

The rest of me got together and told that logical part of me to have a nice cup of “Shut the #$%@ up!” and got down to the serious business of nun-hunting. It was going pretty well for nearly a half a minute… and then the straightaway ended. I was close enough to the Driver Superior that I saw the end of my bit of luck before it actually happened; up ahead I could see cross-streets and traffic, exactly the type of driving terrain I had been doing so poorly in a minute ago, and my heart sank.

But then there was another little bit of luck that went my way. The traffic light ahead flipped red, and so did Sister Andretti's brake-lights as she slowed to a stop. I had been closing the gap, and if this red light was just long enough…

It was. The road split here into two lanes as it approached the traffic signal: the left lane was for left turn only. No. Did I need to go left? No. Did I want to go left? Oh, Hell no —  but what I did want to do, quite a bit actually, was to get a glimpse of the little old woman of God who drove a car with such speed, such skill, such verve.

I pulled into the left lane moving like I was going to run the light, but all I was trying to do was get up there and have a little time to see her before the light changed and my holy quarry disappeared with a blast of exhaust and a stretch of burned rubber.

I made it. I powered down to the stop line and took a nice, sweeping look at my surroundings, just checking everything: oncoming traffic, the surrounding house or two, even an imaginary squirrel in one of the trees to my right. It would have been obvious to anyone observing me that I was looking at everything, and not focused entirely on the driver of the car to my right.

… Who turned out to be a girl of 18 or 20. Maybe 22? Maybe. The dark habit and white wimple I thought I had seen turned out to be black, curly locks held back and out of her face by a white headband. She was laughing and talking animatedly, only holding the wheel with one hand while the other held a cell phone up to her ear.

A small, internal part of me died, just a little, to see how deep into her conversation she was. As I sat there remembering the smooth, practically professional way she had taken those turns and realizing she had apparently done it almost completely on auto-pilot, the light changed. With a head-tossing laugh that I swear I could hear through both our raised windows, she stepped on the gas. I imagined her managing the wheel with but a single finger as she powered along the road, disappearing around a bend about a quarter-mile ahead while I sat there, waiting for the light to change and allow me to take a left I really didn’t want to take. My head was hung slightly in a sort of manly Massachusetts-driver shame that was tempered somewhat by a little bit of pride: that was the next generation of Massachusetts drivers right there, and if she was any indication then they were well-equipped to uphold our state’s driving reputation.

Even better equipped than me.

The green arrow above my head lit up, indicating that I could now take that left turn. I stepped on the gas and swung onto this new road, deciding I’d just see where it took me.

Talk to you later!

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When I went to YouTube and looked up 'Funny Nuns', this was on the top of the list. Enjoy!

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