On the way home from college, a guy gets some uninvited passengers.
|Contest entry using the prompts: end of a journey, Vienna, a folk singer, and Hello Kitty.
It was close to midnight. I was almost home. I’d left University two hours ago and would be home in about an hour more. I was really looking forward to eating Mom’s cooking again. The dining hall fare had been OK, but I seemed to end up eating a lot of potted meat and Vienna sausages I kept in my dorm room with pilfered rolls from said dining halls.
I was low on gas, so I decided I’d better stop at a gas station. It wouldn’t look very good if their new physics grad was incapable of understanding the concept of empty tank=stopped on roadside. I laughed to myself. Dad would drive out and pick me up, but he’d tease me mercilessly.
The station was all neon signs, cigarette ads and the usual lotto, coffee and soda. The bored cashier wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt sighed heavily, when she had to get down from where she had been sitting on the counter talking on her cell phone. She glared at me like I was interrupting a life-or-death conversation. I had heard several loud “No way’ and “No she di’int’s” from her while I was grabbing a soda and candy bar.
I shook my head after I’d gotten back in the car when a man came up to the car and asked me if I’d seen this girl in a picture he had around here tonight. I said, “No, I haven’t” at about the same time another guy opened the passenger door of my Taurus and got in.
I exclaimed “Hey! What…” and abruptly stopped as he showed me a gun.
“We don’t want no trouble, pal.” The first guy, who was now getting in the backseat said gruffly. “We just need a ride somewhere.”
“I just want to go home guys. Just take the car and let me out.” I started to open the door.
“Hold it right there.” Gun guy said. “If we wanted the car we’d-a took the car. We need a driver.”
Now I was stuck for it. Maybe I could run for it when we stopped. The only thing running through my head was that I was never going to get home and my parents were going to get the news of my corpse found in some alley somewhere. “Here’s watchoo gonna do, pal.” First guy said, really close to my ear.
Gun Guy snickered. It was a dry, ugly sound.
Youse is gonna drive up to the corner three blocks from here. Elvis here is gonna get out. I’m gonna stay right here with you, like we’s friends and all that, right.” First guy continued.” then he’s gonna get back in and youse is gonna drive us somewhere else. Got it?”
“Yeah. OK.” I said. I just knew I was going to wet myself soon. Good thing I went at the station.
Elvis got out. I heard a loud crash and moments later, an alarm started blaring.
“Shit.” First guy swore. “Elvis is a stupid …” He peered out the back window.
Elvis came around the corner running with a big bag in his arms and threw himself into the car. “Drive!” He shouted.
I hit the gas. We caromed off the curb that I’d been a little close to when I pulled out .
“Easy, man. Don’t get us messed up. We got stuff to do.” Elvis grunted and fumbled for his seat belt.
“OK, Pal.” First guy said. “You need to make your next left at that light.”
We drove in silence for about ten minutes. I peered sideways at Elvis. He was nodding his head as if he was humming a tune to himself. I decided to chance turning on the radio, I had to do something to calm down some. First guy sat up and looked at me in the rear view. I raised my hand and pointed at the radio. He nodded and seemed to relax again.
The music started, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes benz…” Janis Joplin screeched from the speakers.
Elvis smiled. “She was a really righteous lady.” He smiled and looked out the window. I glanced at him again
I was bewildered by what was sticking out of the top of the bag. All I could see was what looked like a white sequined shirtsleeve. First guy saw my expression In the mirror.
“Yo, Pal, keep your eyes on the road if’n you know what’s good for you.” He said gruffly.
“Kid’s OK, Jimmy,” Elvis said. Well, now, First guy had a name now.
“OK, almost there, pal” Jimmy said to me. “Turn right here, then four more blocks.”
I drove on like he said and pulled up in front of an old theater. The kind you’d find in a small town turned into a church, or probably more accurately, ‘cult’ meeting place.
I stopped and put the car in park. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
I heard Jimmy’s voice say, ”Thanks, Pal.”
Then Elvis said, “You’ve been a big help.”
I sighed and opened my eyes. I was shocked to find them both gone. I looked around wildly. There was no one in the street or near the car. They were simply gone.
I looked up at the marquee. It read “ONE WEEK ONLY!! GHOSTS OF ELVIS AND JAMES DEAN!”
I stared at the sign, rubbed my eyes and drove away shaking my head. I kept telling myself, “That was NOT real.”
I got home about an hour later. Mom had left a note on the door. There’s some chicken in the fridge. Hope you had a good ride back. Welcome home!