Monday, November 26, 2007


"Come on. Just get me two more miles and I'll love you forever.", he said to his 1989 Plymouth. This car was one of many cars he had had and was probably one of many more to come. Stroking his gray rust machine as gently as a newborn, he sensually said, "Come now baby, I can get you that gas. You can drink all you want, but you gotta work with me baby."

The road, winding in an uneven spiral, made his car work for every inch traveled. And you heard it. Whining and wheezing like and asthmatic, it tried to no avail in its pursuit to make it, but that last hill was too much. She died. Hard.

"No Goddamn it! Don't do this shit to me! Not here! Not now!", you heard his plea even over the wind blowing. Hard. Did I forget to tell you, it was winter and very cold? Coldest day of the entire year, at least that’s what the local AM news reported.

The man looked down at his tank gage as if to search for a mirac le or at least a mistake in judgment on his part. He looked out of his front window and could barely see more than a mile ahead. The same for his rear window. After sitting for a while he began to wrap himself in layers of clothing. The rest was obvious. He was going to brave the elements.

The door slammed with finality as he walked along the highway. He thought of how he should have taken better care of his car and how much he hated people who could afford new ones. He even thought how much he hated people who had working cars period. The world was not his oyster.

The weather, unforgiving, ripped across the man in all directions. It was only a matter of minutes before he felt the cold gnawing at his limbs. In what seemed like hours of walking, a car approached. He waved it down and it stopped. Slipping and sliding he struggled toward it.
"Hey Guy! Oh sorry my Bad, I mean Miss, can you help me?"

She was beautiful he said to himself. Bunched in her car. No make-up, her hair plain, contrasting the world outside. Not a blemish to detract from her natural look, she was and angel. She was perfect.

"I need a ride to the nearest exit or gas station."
"That your car back there?", she asked.
"Yeah. She just couldn't make the trip."
With a smile that showed her teeth, as white as the heavily falling snow, she said, "Hop in. Its pretty bad out there."

Without hesitation the man shuffled to the passenger's side of this royal green vehicle. Just as he reached for the door to open, his feet flew out from under him. Embarrassed, you heard a muffled, "Fuck!", as he tried to stand. Once inside of the car, snow covered an ego broken and the door closed. Then they moved slowly, careful not to slide and spin.
A few minutes passed when the man said, "Its OK to laugh now."
And with that the woman exhaled with a howl of laughter that cut deep into the air. The man, knowing the situation, could only but join in the hysterics.

"What's your name?", the woman asked.
"Walt. Walt Collins"
"Walt, as in Walter?"
"No just Walt, its not short for anything. So where you coming from? If I may ask?"
"I'm not coming from anywhere, I'm going", as she looked at Walt with a smile.
"You sure have a pretty smile", Walt said with a grin. "What's your name?"
"What do you think?", she responded.
"Hell, I don't know, its why I asked."
"What do I look like?"
Perplexed by her question, "What?"
"I mean, if you had seen me for the first time, and you have, what would you say I look like if you had to give me a name."
Walt paused and being quite unsure of what to say or do, tried not to cause any friction as he strained to find a name. It had to be a name both beautiful and playful. Looking deep into her eyes, he said, "Amanda".
"You must like that name.", she said.
"No. Yeah. It's a name that I find alluring yet compassionate."
Smiling a bit," So you must find me alluring and compassionate."
"Very beautifully too."
"Why thank you Mr. Walt Collins you just made my day."
"So what's your name?"
"Believe it or not, it is Amanda."
"No fuckin way!"
"It is."
"Get the fuck out of here! You shitin me?"
"No, seriously, it is. Look in my glove compartment and take out one of my letters. The name is on the front.
With quickness, Walt opened the glove compartment and found an envelope only to find that the letterhead read, "Amanda Dru."
"Fuckin A, I don't believe this. What are the odds of this happening?", holding his head in his hand in total disbelief.
"Probably better than craps in Vegas.", she added.
"You ain't lying."
“You a gambling man Walt?”
“Sometimes, some poker occasional blackjack.”
“So you are a thinking strategy man. You like to see all the cards on the table.”
Walt looks at Amanda with admiration and says, “Wouldn’t anybody?”
“No. Most people don’t, Amanda answers. “Just think, if you knew everything all the time, saw all the cards, even if you counted all the cards, you’d be cheating. Where’s the excitement, what’s the purpose if you can fix the game?”
“Having a shit load of money! “, Walt laughs out.
“But not in Vegas. I’ve been there many times. People tend to disappear like that”, Amanda says as cold as the wind blowing outside the car.
Walt’s laugher killed, “True.”

After a while of small talk, Walt asked Amanda, "So, you got family?"
"No, don't have time."
"What, you some executive or something?"
"Just a collector."
She turned her head slightly and said, " No, but we both have a lot in common."
"I'm unemployed. Been that way since the Bush got in offices."
"I been getting most of my best work during these years."
"Shit you ain't foolin me, you are one of those corporate types. Real Estate? Flippin’ Houses. Just look at this car. What is it? A Lexus? A Catty? Mercedes? I ain't seen a car like this before."

"Its not on the market."
"A demo?"
"For now. Its servers a purpose."
"And that being?"
"Getting me to where I have to go."
"And what?"
"Where you have to go?"
"Oh ho ho ho, this is too spooky. That's where I'm goin. My mom lives there and that's who I gonna see. Hell that reminds me, I have to play the Pick- for her today. She said she had a dream about hittin’ the numbers.”, Walt tells Amanda as he digs for the paper with the numbers.
Focused upon the road ahead, Amanda doesn't respond.
The two ride some more until an exit comes along. It is not long before the two see a service station and settle.

"Do you want anything Amanda?"
"No thank you. I'm fine."
Closing the door Walt walked into the service station. Inside he saw a gawky looking man in oil socked blue jeans and a red and green flannel shirt. Walking towards Walt as if his workman boots were too tight he asked, "So, how may I help you?"
"I'm outta gas and my car is stalled up the road. I want to buy some gas.", Walt told the man.
"You got anything to put it in? Canteen? Bottle or something?", the man asked straining to see the car Walt had arrived in behind him.
Confused as to what the man was trying to do, Walt said, "No. I was hoping you might have something to put it in."
"Nope. Don't have anything like that. How about your blond friend?"
I don't know. I'll check. Be right back."

Walt walked back to the car but was a bit bothered because the man thought that Amanda had blond hair. Thinking the man was nearsighted or the snow was just playing with his eyes, Walt ignored the man's comment and thought of it as him being very nosy.
At the car Walt tapped on the window. Amanda with a smile lowered the window and asked, "Is everything OK?"
"I guess. I was wondering if you had something to put gas in?"
"That's all. Sure. Let me look in the back.
Amanda popped open the trunk of her car. Getting out she walked to the rear of it and opened the trunk all the way.
"Hey Amanda, aren't you kinda cold?", Walt asked in wonderment.
"No.", and she continued to move items around until see found a gallon jug. "Will this do?"
"Sure would. Thanks. I'll be back."
Walt jogged back into the station more for its warmth that his urgency. The man in the back saw him re-enter and met him half way.

Hey guy, will this do?"
"If you can get some gas in it, it'll do. Go inside there. That's the back entrance of the store. My little girl will ring it up for you."
"Thanks sir." Walking in the direction of the store Walt turned, "Excuse me again but can you tell me if you can give me a ride back to my car?"
"You not with that little lady out there?"
"Naw, but I wish."
"Yeah she is a looker. No problem. How far are you?"
"About four, maybe five miles."
The man nodded and walked toward the back of the station. Walt entered the store where a young woman was looking outside of the storefront. Dreamy eyed and focused, she never heard Walt come in through the back.

"Excuse me?"
Jumping with a startle, the woman knocked over a rack of candy and potato chips. Holding her heart, she fumbled upon the floor to pick up the fallen items. In total embarrassment, she looked at the floor to avoid looking into Walt's face. Walt, feeling a bit of humor in the situation, helped her clean up the mess.
"Oh my Lord! You done scared me half to death. I didn't hear you come in."
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that but the man told me to come this way."
"Oh no problem. It was the only bit of excitement I got all day with this weather and all."
"Yeah I know it."
"If I wasn't standing here looking at your friend I might have heard you. Very good-looking. Where yous from?"
"I'm from outside Pittsburgh. Baden."
"Heard of it. So yous two been friends long?",asked very investigative like.
"Just met about a few miles back. Lucky me though."
"Yeah, lucky you."
As Walt began to pay for the gas, the woman looked in the direction of the car outside. Still caught up in her fascination, she missed Walt giving her his money.
"Three dollars?", Walt reminded the woman.
"Oh yeah, three dollars."
She fumbled in the cash register draw and took out his change.
"Your change sir, now have a good day and good luck to you."
"Yeah I'm gonna need it. My mothers home really sick and is expecting me."
Sympathetically, "Well I'm sorry to hear that.", the woman said.

As Walt walked out of the door, the woman called, "Sir! Sir!"
Walt turned confused as the woman waved for him to return.
The woman, a bit embarrassed, " I know that this isn't right but can you do me a favor. Can you give this to your friend." The woman scribbled her name and number on apiece of recipe paper gave it to Walt. "Tell him to call anytime."
"Yeah him.", and she smiled.
Dumbfounded, he could only say, "Whatever."

Walt walked outside and tapped on the hood of Amanda's car. Again she lowered her window.
"So you're set handsome?"
"Very much so. Thanks for all your help."
"No problem."
"Here. This if for you. Its from the girl inside.", Walt motioned with his head in the direction of the store. " I think she wants you."
Turning to get a better look at the woman, Amanda chuckled and bit her lip. Turning to look at Walt she returned, "Well, I just will have to consider this one proposal at a later date." And with that she placed the number on the dashboard.
"Well since we are on the subject of telephone numbers, how about we do a little exchanging ourselves?"
"Sorry. I can't, but it was a pleasure."
Making puppy dog eyes at Amanda, "Now after all we have been through together, why not?"
"Work. I do it all the time. I don't get a break and I rarely mix the two."
"You know what they say about work?"
"I know. I was the one who patented it."
"You know, I can make you laugh."
"True, you were the only one in years who have made me laugh."
"It felt good didn't it."
Amanda nodded in agreement.
"So whenever you want to laugh, you can call me."
"No. But thanks anyway."
Amanda began to roll up her window when Walt shouted, "Wait! What about your container?"
Amanda retorted, "Keep it. Its not important."
Amanda began to place her car in gear when Walt stopped her again.
A bit insistent Amanda responded, " Yes Walt?"
"Where in Tannersville are you gonna be and how long?"
A bit hesitant, Amanda glanced at Walt and said, "Chadham Creek Lane and I'll only be there for a minute." And with that Amanda drove away.

Looking at the car move into a flurry of swirling snowflakes, Walt could only think again, "Three coincidences in a row? My mother lives on that street." And he smiled in amazement.

Walking back, Walt noticed that Amanda's car left no track marks in the snow. Nor did it leave a print where it had rested for nearly ten minutes. “Wait a minute?, he thought to himself, “Where are the foot prints?” A rush of fear hit Walt. A fear as real and as cold as the very winter chill itself and the only thing he could do was scream after Amanda because he had tried to make a date with Death.

No comments: