While on a road-trip, a couple comes across more than one kind of bump in their road.
|“So,” Shawn said, kicking the flat, front left tire. “Feel free to tell me how this’s all my fault. I know you want to.”
I leaned against the driver’s side door and fanned myself with my hand, too hot to dignify that statement with an answer. But, never one to let my pointed silences stop him, Shawn went on obliviously, pacing back and forth in front of me, his grown-out, dyed-blue curls bobbing in the baked desert zephyrs like a deranged halo.
“—and my fault that we followed the directions that state trooper gave us wrong; my fault that we’re on this shitty road-trip to begin with—” he ranted, throwing up his hands as he stomped back and forth, forth and back on the dusty macadam. Just watching him was making me hotter. I sighed.
“Look,” I began, almost instantly breathless in the hot, dry air. Apparently I’d need my inhaler if I planned to speak more than a sentence or two. “It’s no sense blaming you if you’ve already volunteered for the job.” I tried on a tired smile. “You’ve sucked all the fun out of it.”
“Oh, and let’s not forget that lovely awkward scene at that diner back in Tucson,” Shawn was saying with a frazzled, stressed-out laugh. “Another catastrophe that can be laid at my doorstep. I’m batting a thousand, lately!”
“Well.” I caught Shawn by the waist as he passed by me for the twentieth time. “That scene in the diner wasn’t so much a catastrophe, as it was a light bulb-moment.”
Shawn pulled a sullen face as I tugged him closer by the belt loops in his cargo pants. “A light bulb-moment? You mean like Oprah’s always talking about? How so?” he asked rather unwillingly. I smiled a little, and leaned in to peck his lips and give him a hug. We were both equally sweaty and none-too-fresh.
“Well, see, when you were standing up to that bigoted waitress and her manager, I had a revelation,” I whispered against the pulse in his throat. He folded me into his arms with a sigh and murmured into my hair:
“A revelation? What—not to get the tuna melt in Arizona?”
“Nope. Well, yep . . . but besides that.” I leaned back just enough to look into his hazel eyes. They seemed less frustrated and angry than they had been even seconds ago. “I realized that I have the best boyfriend in the whole, wide world. One who won’t just stand up for himself, but who’ll stand up for me—for us—and stand by me, as well, if someone tries to tear us down. And even though my boyfriend has his flaws—like drinking directly from the juice carton; not capping the toothpaste when he’s done with it; dragging me on endless road-trips; and not asking for directions while on said endless road-trips—he’s still the best, most honorable and wonderful guy I know. And I’m lucky to have him.”
Shawn blinked, obviously surprised, and his arms around me tightened. “Babe, I—”he began, searching my eyes wonderingly.
“Are wonderful,” I said softly, kissing him again. “And I love you to distraction.”
Shawn reached up and brushed his fingers across my cheek. “I love you, too, baby,” he whispered, and kissed my forehead, my nose then my lips. “And don’t worry. We’ll get help. Sooner or later. Maybe we can call Triple-A. . . .”
“We don’t have any bars this far from civilization,” I reminded him, laughing. “Unless you have a CB radio, we’re not calling for anything.”
“Damnit!” Shawn groaned, leaning us against the car then looking up and down the highway. There were no cars in either direction as far as the eye could see. “I guess we really are stuck here, for a while.”
“Or not,” I said blithely, pulling out of his arms. “Pop the trunk.”
“Uh, okay . . . why?” Shawn asked, but opening the car door and doing as I’d requested. I walked around to the back of the car and began removing our stuff from our newly cleaned and organized trunk. “Are we gonna set up camp here for the night?”
“No.” I laughed again. “There is a perfectly good spare tire on-board, Shawn.”
“Yeah, but—” Shawn joined me behind the car and watched me lift out a suitcase. “Neither of us can change a flat tire.”
I paused and glanced at him, one eyebrow raised sardonically. Shawn gaped. “You know how to change a flat?”
“I do. One of the few useful things my father could be bothered to teach me.” I lifted the heavy case of bottled water. Shawn quickly took it from me and set it on the ground. “And now, I’m gonna teach you, butch.”
“Huh. Okay,” Shawn said softly. And we finished removing things from the trunk. Not that, for once, there was a lot of stuff to remove. Shawn had cleaned out the trunk before we’d left home, so there’d be room for all our stuff.
When the last of our luggage and souvenirs was out, I stood there, staring at the spare and frowning. It was the only thing left in the trunk.
“When you cleaned out the trunk . . . please tell me you left the jack in there?”