“In one mile, take slight left onto I95 north.”
What in the hell had I been thinking by moving to such a huge city? There were more cars on the highway than there were people in my hometown.
And it was only a Sunday.
What in the hell would it be like on a Monday when most everybody had a job to get to?
But I actually hadn’t moved to the city. I couldn’t afford to live in the city, which was why I’d had to get an apartment on the outskirts of it where the rent was cheaper.
And why I would have to make nearly a forty mile drive – one way – every day to and from work.
A forty mile drive – that by all Sunday traffic indications – was going to take me two hours to make.
To and from work.
If I was lucky.
“In point five miles, take slight left and continue on to I95 north.”
“I know…” I snarled at the British bitch who was giving me dashboard directions.
Was having a GPS handy?
Did that mean I wanted to strangle the British bitch in the box any less?
“Take slight left onto I95 north in point two miles.”
“There was a reason we won the war,” I glared at the inanimate object that’d been the bane of my existence for the last week. “We wanted it more.”
I would chuck her out the window if it weren’t for the fact I needed her, if I wanted to have any hopes of finding my destination.
And keeping that in mind, I took the slight left on the highway before I had to hear her yelling at me again.
Recalculating! Recalculating! Recalculating!
I couldn’t wait until I knew where I was going enough to take a hammer to her.
Recalculate that, bitch.
Like I hadn’t been stressed enough making the move on my own, I hadn’t been able to enjoy the long drive by cranking up the radio because I needed to be able to hear the haughty whore while I was driving. Add to that the anxiety of moving so far away from home and being on my own for the first time and I was a nervous wreck.
An excited nervous wreck, but a wreck just the same.
Like my car.
That had been another stressor, hoping and praying and making wishes on falling stars that the tires wouldn’t fall off or anything else equally as debilitating. My car was old. The last time the air conditioner worked, President Carter was probably still in office.
But BB Queen – Beulah my Buick – had gotten me this far, so I hoped the sturdy gal would hold out for just a little while longer, until I could save enough money to let her go into retirement.
Maybe I would even be able to splurge and get a car that had been new during the Bush era.
H. Not W.
I wasn’t that much of a dreamer.
But my dream job had always been to be a journalist for the likes of the New York Times or the Washington Post, so I looked at my new job as an office lackey at The Gazette as a stepping stone.
It was more like a stepping pebble, but I was closer to getting my dream job than I had been a month ago, so that was something.
I imagined being something like the next Carrie Bradshaw. I only needed three sexually adventurous – if not emotionally immature – friends and I would be all set.
But there would no Mr. Big for me.
What was it with women clinging onto toxic relationships?
Just to be a part of a ship?
No thank you.
That ship had already sailed and I wasn’t on it.
I got seasick and everything.
But even so, my glass was still half full.
My windshield, on the other hand, was grimy as all get out and I made the mistake of trying to clean it off by twisting the knob for the windshield fluid, forgetting the fact that I’d run out of it about five hundred miles ago.
So all I managed to do was smear the grime into a dirty rainbow.
But since my glass was still half full, I decided it would be the title of my autobiography when I made it big.
The Dirty Rainbow – How Sookie Stackhouse Conquered the Big City.
But now that the grime was forced into a rainbow pattern, from the shrapnel blast pattern it had been in, I managed to take notice of one of the huge signs along the side of the highway.
HOV Lane. 3 Passenger Minimum. Violators will be fined $1000.
“You BITCH!” I screeched, shaking a fist at the British bitch in a box and pushing the gas pedal all the way to the floorboard.
She could narrow down my location to anywhere within the continental US – and even be so kind as to list the dining options nearby – but she couldn’t ask me if I had anyone else in the car with me before directing my ass onto the carpool lane?
I decided then and there it would be the title of the first chapter of my autobiography.
GPS – How Garmin Pwned Sookie.
As unreasonable as it was, I took the slight personally. I’d been harping at the British bitch so often I just knew this was her way of paying me back.
Just like I knew it was almost as preposterous as me being able to come up with a thousand dollars to pay a fine for a violation I had no hand in making or even knowing about.
Poor BB Queen didn’t know what in the hell was going on and lurched forward, protesting the entire time. So I threw some more wishes at the unicorns who’d already shit a rainbow on my windshield that I would manage to make it to an exit without being caught.
But I should have wished for a radar detector instead – or maybe some windshield washer fluid and a Road Atlas – because just as soon as I glanced down at the speedometer and saw that BB had managed to climb from seventy miles per hour to ninety (Go Beulah!) I looked up and saw not only had I passed the first available exit, but a highway patrol car sitting on the side of the road.
At the speed I was going it more of a flash really.
Just like the flashing red lights I saw in my rearview mirror a few seconds later.
“Son of a bitch,” I sighed, with my shoulders slumping and my finger hovering above the turn signal to indicate that I was going to pull over.
Only for BB to have a massive coronary, with a death rattle sounding from the engine, right before smoke started billowing out from under the hood.
“Son of a bitch…”
It was my own fault.
Not that BB had just kicked the bucket – because even if she could be fixed, I didn’t have the money to fix her – or even the fact the British bitch in a box had put me in the HOV lane.
No, it was my fault for choosing to get a head start by finding the office building I would be expected to be at by nine o’clock the next morning – and now had no way of getting to – in lieu of going to church.
Apparently God didn’t like it when you played hooky.
Chapter Two – Irony – How it Kicked Sookie Stackhouse’s Ass.
I managed to steer BB onto the side of the road – with the previous ninety mile per hour momentum helping me do it, while adding to the ironic ass kicking I was getting – and once I had her in park and turned off, I just let my head hit the steering wheel.
I couldn’t even manage to work up any tears, despite how overwhelmed I felt at the moment.
God probably thought I would use them to clean off the windshield, so He kept the tears at bay as a part of my punishment.
The harsh knock rattling the window next to my head made me jump in my seat, so I didn’t know if it was from that or if it was God’s way of having another laugh at my expense when the glass dropped down into the door on its own.
Probably a combination of the two.
“Do you know why I pulled you over, Miss?” Officer McGruff barked at my side, making me jump again.
“Because God hates hookers and the Brits are pissed we won the war?” I heard myself say.
But a quick replay in my mind made me realize my words had come out completely wrong, so I quickly recalculated my answer and verbal vomited, “I meant playing hooky from Sunday services. Not playing hooker like in a Mary Magdalene sort of way, although there’s no real proof she was a prostitute and God probably didn’t hate her even if she was because He forgives everyone and she followed Christ and witnessed his crucifixion and then his resurrection and I’m no virgin, but unless dinner and a movie counts as payment for services rendered, then I am in no way being paid for sex. I haven’t even had a lot of partners. I can count them all on nearly one hand.”
And at his blank stare, I knew what Chapter Three would be called.
Verbal Gaffes – All Hail Sookie Stackhouse, Reigning Queen.
Hoping to steer the conversation away from how many may have tasted the fruit in my Garden of Eden and back to a more biblical topic – and not in how many I’d known in a biblical sense – I looked into his holier than thou judgmental eyes and squeaked out, “See? I go to church…just not today…which is why…God hates me…”
Seeing that his grim expression hadn’t changed, I nearly offered him one of the powdered donuts sitting in the open package beside me – powdered donuts were the breakfast of champions, after all – but he spoke up first, asking, “Are you under the influence of anything, Miss?”
“Does a little powder count?” I laughed uncomfortably.
Those powdered donuts were seriously my kryptonite.
The fact it looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy had sneezed on my shirt would attest to that.
“Step out of the car, Miss,” Officer No-Sense-of-Humor ordered.
But something niggled at my brain and I gasped out loud, figuring out pretty quickly what it was.
“Powdered sugar!” I squeaked out and grabbed the open pack of Hostess donuts, shaking them in my hand and turning the inside of BB Queen into a hillbilly snow globe.
“Not cocaine,” I quickly explained, with my mouth taking off faster than my brain could keep up with. “Or meth? Does meth come in powdered form? I’m not well read on all of the illegal substances of the powdered variety, but I’ve been meaning to binge watch Breaking Bad on Netflix. I just haven’t had the time, so I apologize for not knowing even though my head is filled with all kinds of things I’ll probably never need to know. I mean, seriously. When am I ever gonna need to pull out the fact that Taylor Swift owns cats named Olivia Benson and Meredith Grey? Other than now, I guess, since I’m telling you. Does it help any that Olivia Benson is named after the lead character in Law & Order: SVU?”
“Doink doink?” I added in a near whisper, when he just stared at me.
“License, registration, and proof of insurance,” he demanded, while shaking his head.
I didn’t see any powdered sugar flying off of his hat with the action, so that was a plus.
Would that be considered as assaulting a police officer?
Chapter Four – Powdered Sugar is the New Black.
What are you in for?
Being a bad hostess.
Yeah, I would definitely get my ass kicked in jail.
And that only reminded me of yet another show I’d wanted to binge watch on Netflix and hadn’t had the time yet.
While Officer Sugar-free moseyed on back to his patrol car to do god knows what, I sat there licking the sugar off of my fingertips, wondering what in the hell I was going to do now.
With BB Queen dead ever after, I had no way to get to and from work.
At least that was the lie I kept telling myself because I’d already looked into the bus schedules and with all of the stops between where I lived and where I worked, it would add another hour to the already infinite travel time between the two. That would mean my days would be fourteen hours long at a minimum and the thought alone was enough for the waterworks to start.
I could only imagine how I looked by the time Officer Diabetic walked back to my car.
With the powdered sugar I knew was still covering my face and the now runny mascara, it was probably something similar to a mime that just had his short hairs yanked.
He actually looked sympathetic, what with me looking all pathetic, and handed my paperwork back to me and asked, “Do you know how fast you were going?”
“Ninety,” I hiccupped and pointed at the British bitch in a box, accusing, “That she-devil put me in the HOV lane and I didn’t realize it until it was too late, so I was trying to get to the nearest exit before I was caught because I don’t have a thousand dollars to pay a fine and now I don’t even have a car that works to get to work to earn the money to pay the fine that will be who knows how much more because I was speeding and now I’m going to be homeless and I can’t even sleep in my car because it’s dead on the side of the highway in the HOV lane and I don’t have any friends, much less three sexually adventurous if not emotionally immature friends who could drop me off here at night to sleep.”
I don’t know if my babbling had garnered even more sympathy or if he’d used my need to inhale to stop me from babbling more by explaining, “The HOV lane is only restricted to cars carrying three or more passengers on weekdays between 6:30 and 9:30 in the morning.”
“Of course it is,” I sobbed and then held out my wrists towards him, saying, “Go ahead. Take me to the big house. I can’t pay the fine or the speeding ticket, so we might as well get it over with.”
When I didn’t feel the cold steel bracelets I’d been so sure were in my immediate future, I chanced a look up at him and wondered if I’d inadvertently put him into a sugar coma, seeing his deer-in-the-headlights stare.
After a long moment, he finally shook his sugar-free head and said, “Get whatever you want out of the car and I’ll give you a lift to the nearest bus stop. You seem to be having a really bad day, so I’ll let you off with just a warning.”
Chapter Five – The Tears of a Clown Taste Sweet.
After I bid BB Queen a fond farewell, Officer Sweet-as-Sugar dropped me off at a bus stop that sat right in front of a coffee shop. But when I looked up at the street sign to get my bearings, I realized I was only one street over from where The Gazette was housed.
I wasn’t too sure if it was a sign from God that everything would work out or if He was just rubbing it in my face that I was so close.
And yet so far.
But knowing my face was sugar and mascara streaked, I went into the coffee shop to wash it all off and treat myself to a latte, while I was at it.
Chapter Six – When All Else Fails, Caffeinate.
With my mocha caramel whip with extra flavor in my hand, I wandered over to a bulletin board that was hanging on the wall, hoping they would have a bus schedule hanging there.
Instead I saw my salvation in the form of a sign for a rideshare, between my apartment complex – Sherwood Village, although I had yet to see Robin Hood, much less have stolen property thrown my way – and the coffee shop.
But just as quickly as I’d heard the angel choir harking heralds at my find, a hand appeared in my line of sight, grabbing at my paper salvation.
“Hey!” I snapped out and snatched the sign God had forgiven me before the devil at my side could take it away.
Chapter Seven – Thou Shalt Not Steal Sookie’s Salvation.
Looking over at the guy at my side, I couldn’t decide – or maybe it was he who couldn’t decide – if he was emulating Harry Styles or Jeff Spicoli.
Chapter Eight – Pick One Direction and Stick To It.
“Chill,” he lazily grinned, with his hands held up in front of him.
Since my shirt was still covered in sticky powdered sugar it could be his belief that I was a professional stick up gal.
But that was stupid.
Like his hairstyle.
“I was just taking the sign down because we got our three to go H-O-V,” he explained and then laughed at his Dr. Seuss-ness.
But I wasn’t laughing because God was already laughing at me and I couldn’t take another joke at my expense, so I pleaded, “No! Please, please tell me you have room for one more! I swear, I’m not normally covered in powdered sugar with raccoon eyes. Well, maybe the powdered sugar is one of my usual accessories, but I promise to wait until I get out of the car to eat my breakfast of champions.”
“Chill,” he repeated with wide eyes. “We got room for one more, so you’re cool.”
I would have hugged him in that moment, if:
1) I didn’t actually know him, and:
2) He could be a serial killer, and:
3) That fact should really make me rethink this whole riding with strangers deal, but:
4) I was desperate.
So that was how I came to be a included in a four person rideshare program.
And now that my glass was back to being half full, it was the Bill and Ted vibe he was throwing off that gave me the title to Chapter Nine.
Sookie’s Excellent Adventure.