Insert Chassis Albuquerque: Chapter 10 - The Short Skirt: "The Escape"

Chapter 10 - The Short Skirt: "The Escape"

We didn’t get far.
I was driving, nowhere particular.
There was plenty of traffic about. A small stone flew up from under a car ahead of us and bounced off the windscreen. The woman alongside me stared as little glass veins of fractures, like the thin, red veins of an iris, cracked out across the windscreen.
It was only 8:30pm.
I could tell: The woman in the passenger seat was beginning to get suspicious. Already I’d pulled into two different, but equally popular fast-food drive-thrus - one was for chicken and the other was, predominantly, a burger chain. This way, when they found our bodies, hopefully they’d be able to review any CCTV footage and get these bastards. Obviously I’d made an effort to be memorable to the servers taking the cash at the windows and said things like: “You Australian…? Let’s see, Australia, historically you’re all descended from convicts. You know that…?” I asked the women in the passenger seat.
The woman glanced over at the big guy in the back.
“I’m not Australian, mister,” the server said, handing the meal through the window.
“You’re not? Well, that’s Australia’s loss - say, you local maybe? Maybe I can pick you up and take you out for a soda sometime. But not here, a nice burger joint - you know, one without a drive-through? What you think…?”
The server smiled.
Then slid her serving-booth window shut.
I didn’t do anything.
Drive,” the woman instructed.
So we drove off.
Ronald Ford began to shoot his mouth off the way people do when they’ve just seen their lives flash in front of their eyes and realized how little of it they’ve actually lived and said things to the woman next to him like: “You think it’s okay for a woman to do whatever it takes to get ahead? I mean, anything? Well, that’s just bullshit…! What self-respecting woman would behave that way? How’d you get this job - you sleep with the boss-lady there?”
“You meet Oberlander coast-side or in The Program…?” the woman asked me.
"Who?" I said.
I’d no idea what she was talking about.
I said: “I wonder about that. Should it be capitalized - The Program…? Or just lower case…? Or just the word `program’ with a capital letter P - what you think…? You ever think about things like that…?” Before she could answer, I said: “Oberlander is a very handsome guy, don’t you think? What’s so "good looking" about him, though, his best feature, is his mind - very elliptical. He’s a little too promiscuous on Tuesdays, but, you know, the ladies don’t seem to mind. You ever paid him a visit on a Tuesday…?”
I winced at her.
I couldn’t stop talking.
I said: “According to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private, the differences between them were tremendous. I mean they looked like a horse…!”
“What are you talking about?” the woman demanded.
Ronald Ford’s phone rang. He answered it and began shouting: “Oh yeah…? Oh yeah - yeah…? Well, fuck you! Holland Tiburg? Who the fuck is Holland Tiburg…! Where are you? Where are you? I’ll tell you where you are, you’re on your knees, bitch…!
Clearly it was Gretta Garbo with two T’s.
Everyone seemed uncomfortable overhearing them argue.
We were in a suburban neighborhood, lots of friendly-looking family houses set back from the road with gardens.
Lights were on in all of them.
People were home.
There was only one way we were going to survive this, I thought, whatever “this” was, and it was under this heady, thick atmosphere we arrived at my father’’s place.
We parked in the drive.
The big BMW’s engine throbbed loudly.
“Why we stopping…?” the woman said.
“For the exchange. Let’s go,” I said to Ronald, still shouting down the phone at Gretta. He was still shouting as he leaned over the woman, opened the door and coerced her out.
“You tell Tiburg he wants to sue me, he’s gonna have a tough time directing his next film with broken arms…!”
The woman in the driver’s passenger seat said: “An exchange? What kind of exchange?”
“Just the usual kind, the illegal kind…?”
She was still suspicious and made no move to exit.
“There,” I said, pointing at the porch. We were about to get out of the car when I hesitated and, taking the keys out of the ignition, said to her: “You will have plenty to enjoy watching this.
I don’t know why I told her that, I guess a guy feels he’s just got to say something even if it’s anything.
The porch light was off.
I knocked on the door.
The woman and the thug stood either side of Ronald and I; the smaller woman behind all of us, casing the surroundings and just in case we made a break for it, I imagined. We could hear movement inside. Not necessarily footsteps, more like someone advancing cautiously toward the door. My father, January Johnson, answered the door with his usual disregard for societal norms: In his underwear.
Startled, the smaller woman behind us screamed.
Run…!” I yelled and we all took off in different directions, including my father, who was well versed in leaving any scene in a hurry, if the scene demanded it.
I knocked the woman off her feet next to me as I pushed by her and vaulted over the porch enclosure.
Ronald Ford and my father ran at the thug who’d stepped back and was going for the gun in his coat-pocket. My father ran straight over him and took off across the lawn, while Ronald Ford got a pretty solid kick in at the guy’s head just as he hit the floor; the gun shot out of his hand and slid across the porch. The smaller woman made a grab for it but Ronald Ford, who was still on the phone to Gretta Garbo as he made his escape kicked her down, too: “Love…? Jesus Christ! I’m laughing at you, laughing! What can you know of love? You, you can't even make the bed, you bitch…!" he was yelling into the phone.

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