Sherwood Village was a pretty large housing complex, made up of buildings with one and two bedroom apartments, along with rows of townhomes. I wasn’t sure just how many buildings there were, but I knew mine had twelve apartments on each of the five floors.
It was like its own little town within a town.
According to the guy I paid my deposit to when I moved in, most of the residents worked in the city and it occurred to me the night before, if my excellent adventure didn’t work out with the maybe-serial killer, then I had a few hundred other people I could try to beg a ride from.
They couldn’t all be Ted Bundy wannabes.
Chapter Ten – The Bright Side of the Dirty Rainbow
So I hadn’t been all that surprised to learn everyone in the rideshare lived where I did. But while I was perfectly willing – read: desperate – to ride to work with a serial killer, I wasn’t willing to tell him where he and his butcher knife could find me asleep at night.
I might mistakenly suggest to an officer of the law I was a cocaine addict, but I wasn’t completely stupid.
Which was why I was standing in front of the apartment complex’s main office building bright and early the next morning instead, where I had agreed to meet up with Harry Spicoli.
Or was it Jeff Styles?
He claimed his name was Bill Compton, but that was just too damn ordinary for a guy that dressed like an extra from Point Break.
But since he’d given me the Bill and Ted vibe, I decided I would just call him Ted-less Bill.
However, I highly doubted he was a lawyer, unless it was for the Law Firm of Hurley, O’Neill, & Quiksilver.
I was in the middle of wondering if their clients would be made up of sharks suing for false advertisement – those surfboards couldn’t be all that tasty – or maybe Mother Nature was a client, suing for child support – for her baby, El Niño – when I heard the distinct sound of shuffling Reef flip flops coming up behind me and turned just as I was greeted with, “S’up, Sookeh.”
Still dressed like he was on his way to a Jimmy Buffet concert, I couldn’t even find my inner bitch to get mad at him for screwing up my name.
Maybe I left her on the roadside of the HOV lane?
I hoped not.
I wouldn’t last ten minutes, surfing The Dirty Rainbow without her.
Chapter Eleven – Be Sure to Microchip Your Inner Bitch.
But looking at him now and taking in the big picture had me doing a quick recalculation in my head.
Goofy expression + the bag of Cheetos in his hand (lunch fare at seven o’clock in the morning?) + the herbal scent wafting around him (and it wasn’t from the essence of any shampoo he may have used)?
That only equaled one thing.
I don’t know how I’d missed it the day before, but it was now overwhelmingly apparent I had agreed to ride to work with Billabong Cheech & Chong.
I never would’ve guessed I would rather be stuck in a car with Ted-less Bill Bundy.
He may have been a serial killer by night, but at least his day job had been a lawyer.
I could’ve used him when we got pulled over by Officer Sweetie Pie and hauled in for not coming up smelling like roses.
Because a Bill by any other name didn’t smell as sweet.
Chapter Twelve – Shakespeare Didn’t Know Jack Shit.
“Hey Bill,” I finally managed to say and reached into my pocket to pull out the fifteen dollars he said I would have to put into the pot each week for gas money. But as I was about to hand it over, I wondered if he really did mean pot.
Was I inadvertently contributing to the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics times three?
Did nickel bags really cost five dollars?
I knew I should have watched Breaking Bad last night.
Chapter Thirteen – Use Netflix to Figure out the Cost of a Fix.
Assuming the same ‘stick ‘em up’ pose he’d made the day before had me glancing down at my shirt to make sure I wasn’t covered in powdered sugar again. But the aroma surrounding him made me think he was a good place for a Stick–Up.
The eau de Mary Jane was that strong.
But instead of taking the money, he said, “I’m not the one driving this week.”
“Oh?” I asked, certain the eau de relief was pouring out of my pores.
Hopefully it would work like Febreeze and counteract his Doobie-us scent.
He hadn’t explained much to me the day before other than the fact it was okay I didn’t have a car – so long as I helped pay for gas – and that there was another guy and girl in the rideshare.
But more than being told it was okay for me to just share in riding, than sharing my ride, it had been hearing there would be another female in the car that had put me at ease the most.
But with the day I’d been having up until that point, I really should have put more thought into that fact.
Because no sooner had it flitted through my mind when he pointed to something behind me and said, “Here they come now.”
Turning around, I felt my face pale seeing the car.
Because it wasn’t just a car.
It was a hearse.
Like an actual we’re-here-to-take-you-to-your-final-resting-place hearse.
Chapter Fourteen – Breaking Bad Habits Before They Begin – Nix Netflix for Prayer Nights Instead.
And seeing the driver coming into view, I had to wonder if I’d inadvertently traded in BB Queen only to board the Queen Mary.
As in, Bloody Mary.
Maybe if I’d had one of those for breakfast instead of indulging in my sugar fix, I wouldn’t have minded as much.
It pulled up to the curb a few seconds later, with Billabong Bang-a-Gong calling out to the driver, “Qué tal, Thalia!”
Thanks to my head full of useless facts, I knew in Greek mythology Thalia was one of the nine muses.
The joyous muse of comedy.
So was her last name Oxymoron?
Granted, I didn’t know the woman at all, but she was dressed in all black.
Just like her Sharpie colored hair.
Everything about her was black – to include her aura – except for her face.
That was white.
White like she should be wearing a gray paper sheath adorned with the word ‘Crayola’.
And as if her blood red lips weren’t off-putting enough, I would swear on the stack of bibles God was thumping me with that she had tiny fangs poking out of her mouth.
I didn’t have to wonder if a Sookie by any other name would be as sweet.
My blood could probably be confused with hummingbird nectar thanks to my Hostess addiction.
The fact she was just staring ahead and not looking at us only made me even more hesitant to get into the car.
It wouldn’t do for my excellent adventure to end so soon by winding up on The Driving Dead.
But still, it beat walking.
And I’d already decided this was Sookie’s Excellent Adventure, so I sucked it up and decided to view her as something less threatening than that creepy thing from The Ring.
With her makeup she almost seemed to glow, so I decided a glow worm it was.
She didn’t exude warmth and cuddles, but she would certainly be handy to have around in a blackout.
She still hadn’t said a word, but Billabong Shama Lama Ding Dong didn’t seem put-off by her stony silence and climbed into the backseat, while telling me, “You got shotgun.”
Or maybe he was asking me if I was armed?
It felt like I should be.
But unless Wednesday Addams was a diabetic, the powdered donuts in my purse wouldn’t do me any good, and not wanting to be the reason for all of us to be late, I swallowed my fear and got into the car.
“Hi,” I eeped out, sinking down into the front seat, with me automatically reaching to put the seatbelt on.
The interior of the car wasn’t so different from any other car and for some reason I felt better seeing a stack of small brightly colored two inch squared Post-It notes sitting in the center console when I slipped my fifteen dollars into it.
Stationery and I had been having a torrid love affair for years.
Staples probably got the idea for The Easy Button, having heard my orgasmic moans walking up and down their aisles.
But as soon as I clicked the belt into place, she took off and a quick look in the back seat for passenger number four of our supposedly four person rideshare made me realize something else.
We really were the driving dead.
Or rather, driving the dead, if that coffin in the back of the car – I only now noticed – had someone inside of it.
And seeing the oddly placed ten speed shoved alongside of it made me wonder if that was how they’d come up with their third passenger.
Clipping some unsuspecting Lance Armstrong wannabe, just so they could do the Tour de HOV.
He was juicing and now I was Dr. Suess-ing.
Must be a Billabong Singalong contact high.
Cracking open the window at my side, I wondered if maybe I was judging the executioner by her goth cover.
For all I knew she might be more Abby Sciuto than Lizzie Borden, so I turned towards her and casually asked, “I thought there were four people in the group?”
The complex wasn’t far from the interstate, so we were already on it – along with half of the state by my estimation – so it was a little disconcerting – read: terrifying – when she turned to stare straight at me.
Considering we were also traveling at well over seventy miles per hour, I was sure Officer Sugarplum wouldn’t be pleased.
But I would be downright giddy if she would only turn back to look out the windshield because even if she was immortal, I wasn’t.
“He’s back there,” Billabong Tagalong offered from the backseat.
And when I turned to face him, he confirmed my worst fears by jutting his thumb at the coffin.
So maybe it was her vampire daddy riding in the back?
Chapter Fifteen – Hitching a Ride on the Highway to Hell isn’t all it’s Cracked Up to Be.
But feeling something touch my leg, I jumped as far as the seatbelt would allow and looked down to see a bright pink Post-It on my pant leg that said, ‘Hi’.
Was she saying hello or cluing me into the fact Billabong smoked a bong this morning?
I ripped the slip of paper from my leg, with my head whipping back towards the Queen of the Damned, and held it up with my best, ‘Huh?’ expression.
Not that she was looking at me to see it, with her eyes now back on the road in front of us.
So that was something.
Or maybe I was still asleep and this was all just some bad dream?
A dream inspired by Hasbro?
It was Mrs. White, in the hearse, with a Post-It note.
Murder by paper cut.
“She doesn’t talk,” Billabong passed along from his backseat slouch. “She writes whatever she wants to say on those Post-Its.”
I gathered she must not have a lot to say.
If I was forced to do that, I’d have to schlep around one of those rolls they use to cover up exam tables at the doctor’s office.
I already had a box of G2 gel pens in my purse to go with it.
It had whispered sweet nothings into my ear the last time I’d orgasmed my way through Staples.
“Oh,” I gasped, feeling more Lilliputian than Louisianan. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea. I can’t imagine what it’s like to not be able to talk, but I probably talk enough for the two of us. Or even the four of us. In fact, you’ll probably end up wishing I couldn’t talk with how much I talk, but come to think of it that’s a pretty shitty thing to say to someone who can’t talk, not that I’m not grateful to be able to talk because if I had to write everything down that I wanted to say it would be like writing War and Peace every day and that’s a lot of trees I’d be killing. But that’s not to say I’m anything like Leo Tolstoy, but I am a Leo and I do want to be a writer, but more like a journalist even though my job at The Gazette isn’t as a reporter and instead is more like a…well I don’t know what I’ll be doing exactly and I’m kinda nervous but really excited and today is my first day and I hope I don’t fuck it up by talking too much but sometimes I can’t help it because it’s like my mouth is a sieve to my brain, with everything just falling through it and bypassing any filters, like how I just said fuck and I don’t know if that kind of language offends any of you and…I should just shut up now.”
“See?” I squeaked out when she went back to just staring at me with no expression on her face and ended up sighing out, “Fuck…”
Billabong Long Duk Dong snorted at my fuck-faux-pas and said, “She can talk.”
My eyes were drawn back to him, when she went back to looking at the road, and he pulled out a rainbow of Post-It notes from one of his pockets and began going through them before arranging them in a particular order and then handing them to me one by one.
She should think about saving a tree – or a whole rainforest – and invest in some larger Post-It notes, while she’s at it.
After my morning verbal vomit, for the majority of the remaining commute I sat there in a mute silence. A first for me, but it seemed fitting, what with the funeral motif we were in.
However, that wasn’t to say the ride had been peaceful.
Or even quiet.
Because it turned out the neither blind nor deaf Helen Keller, at the helm of her very own hell on wheels, had a hell of a lot to say.
Without saying a damn thing.
She had road rage times a thousand, but I was impressed as much as I was scared shitless.
She banged on the steering wheel.
She used the horn as much as she used her brakes.
In fact, if I had been driving along behind her – instead of white knuckling it next to her – I would probably think that by hitting the brakes it actually activated the horn.
But I had to give her props when she came up with a few hand gestures I’d never even seen before to express her aggravation to the other drivers around us.
Her hands flailed as much as they gripped the steering wheel.
Passing motorists probably thought she was being attacked by an angry nest of hornets.
She certainly had a bee in her bonnet.
When I couldn’t take it anymore – the silence was deafening as much as it was defecation-ing – I finally turned to face Billabong Hourlong and asked, “If you don’t mind me asking, what do you do for a living?”
I couldn’t imagine what job he could have in the city where a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops were appropriate work attire.
We were landlocked, so I highly doubted there was a Ron Jon Surf Shop anywhere nearby.
“Nah…” he drawled out. “That’s cool. I’m what you could call a culinary artist.”
He’d taken some liberties with his vowels and made it sound like ‘arteest’, so I just nodded, with it all making sense now.
Part of his arteestic endeavors probably included asking if his patrons wanted fries with their order.
But just as suddenly, that wasn’t the only thing I’d been wondering.
The other part of me deliberated for a second if someone had sharted when the car jerked to the left and at the same time a fart-like noise echoed inside of the car.
“Laugh all you want, Thal,” he glared. “It’s true.”
That’s what that sound was?
But looking over at her, I could be convinced she was amused.
Or maybe her lips were puckered from smelling her own shart.
Either way, Billabong plowed along by explaining, “I provide a variety culinary treats to a large portion of the population who are connoisseurs of the finer things in life.”
Another shart of amusement sounded on my left, but considering the way he was dressed I was left wondering if maybe he was a chef of some sort at some fancy restaurant in the city.
Was Margaritaville considered a fancy restaurant?
I wasn’t sure, having never been, but I was sure I could go for a little nibblin’ on some sponge cake.
That was the problem with a powdered donut breakfast.
An hour later and you needed another sugar fix.
But being back in the kitchen all day long, no one would actually see Billabong Scuppernong, so he could probably cook buck ass naked and no one would be the wiser.
That thought alone made me decide the next time I could afford to go out to eat somewhere – where the food didn’t come in paper wrappers – it would be at a Benihana’s where they prepared the food at the table.
Billabong Ding-Dong definitely wasn’t on par with Jamie Oliver and he was the only naked chef I was willing to entertain.
But it was while I’d been silently tooting a cutie patootie’s horn that another one sounded and my body jerked forward, right before I was gifted with a mild case of whiplash.
So when my eyes were finally able to stop rolling in my head like a Vegas slot machine, I was able to see we were now parked in front of the coffee shop.
And seeing she’d managed to parallel park a big ass hearse on a dime, I couldn’t help but look over at the Queen of Curbside Service and say, “Well done.”
But I don’t know if she’d been pleased by my hip hip hearse hooray because at that same moment, Billabong King Kong beat his fist on top of the coffin I’d forgotten all about.
Seeing the lid begin to rise up on its own a second later, I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.
If she’d been pleased by my parallel parking praise or if Billabong would live long enough to make his way to Magaritaville.
Me and my yellow belly jumped Bloody Mary’s ship, not wanting to see what would be rising from the dead because as I’ve said:
1) I wasn’t one to be part of a ship, and:
2) I was no Mary Magdalene, or:
3) Even Carrie Underwood, because:
4) While Jesus can take the wheel, I:
5) Was under no illusion I’d been in the presence of Christ in a coffin.
And since I was the queen of putting unpleasant things off for as long as humanly possible, I said my quick ‘See you later’s’ and hauled ass to my new job before whatever inhumanly grotesque monster could make its way out.
The bright side to my sugar addiction meant I had more pep to my step, but even if I had a handle on my Hostess addiction, I knew one thing for certain.
I only needed to be faster than either one of them.
Chapter Sixteen – Footprints in the Sand – When Two Become One you’re Officially Screwed.