As I drove up through upstate New York last weekend, I felt very concerned about the car I was driving. It belonged to an old man, a snow bird, and he had packed the car so full that I could not see out the back window. My rear view mirror was completely useless. And the front seat passenger side was completely full from floor to roof, making it extremely tight to settle into. I had to squeeze my backpack onto the console, and it rubbed up against me as I drove.
My cell phone rang. "This is Bill."
"Hello Bill, this is Maggie up here in Skaneateles. You asked me to find out about cabs going to the Syracuse airport."
"Yes ma'am, that's right."
"I've decided that when you deliver my Dad's car, I will give you a ride myself. But you're gonna have to pay me."
"No, I am serious. Your company raped me on the price to move Dad's car, and so this is payback."
"No problem. I should be there in an hour." I hung up and smiled as I peered at my Mapquest directions. I was going to a town in New York called Skaneateles, but to me it sounded like Skinny Atlas. I had nothing but trouble driving it up from Naples, Florida. The car was overloaded and completely unsafe. And Maggie had been calling me once an hour every hour since I started this trip.
Just over an hour later, I pulled into her driveway. Maggie was standing in the driveway doing stretching exercises, and she marched straight over to the car with her hand out. "Where's my money?" she demanded.
"How much did you want?" I asked.
"Fifty dollars. And I will not haggle or bargain with you."
I shook my head. "No need." I pulled out my wallet and gave her the cash. "Ready to go?" I asked, wondering how we could both possibly fit into this car.
"Come on into the house and have a cup of joe."
"No thanks, I just want to get to the airport."
She stopped and gave me a dead-eyed glare. "We are not going anywhere until you come into the house and drink coffee and have some decent conversation."
I reluctantly followed her inside of her filthy house. The first thing I noticed were the dolls, because there must have been hundreds of them, all lined up along the walls and on shelves. The smallest were the size of a Barbie doll, but there were some three feet tall. It was really strange to me, and reminded me of a movie about killer dolls that come to life and attack people. She hurried into the kitchen and came back with two mugs of steaming hot coffee. I didn't want any, but thought I could just blow on it and pretend to sip it.
She turned on the TV and Gilligan's Island was on. "Oh this is good. Do you ever watch this show? It's about seven stranded castaways who went on a three hour tour. And now they are stranded on this island. It's very dramatic and thought provoking."
I smiled. "So, what time do you think we'll leave for the airport?"
"You just slow down, hot rod. Keep your pants on, there's no big rush. Besides, I have to wake up my partner, well, my boyfriend, before we go."
"Why is that?"
"Because my partner, I mean my boyfriend, needs to ride along and give us directions to the airport."
I pulled a folded sheet of paper out of my pocket. "Already got directions right here, printed them up off a computer."
"No, no, he has to come. Those directions might get me to the airport, but then how am I supposed to get back home?"
I shrugged. "Well, I guess I would just follow the directions in reverse."
She busted out laughing. "And just how am I supposed to do that? Read the directions upside down, from right to left." I didn't understand what she meant, and so I simply remained mum. She chattered fast non-stop for thirty minutes, then looked at her watch. "Guess its time to go wake up my partner, I'm sorry, I mean my boyfriend."
Off she went down the hallway, and then I heard a voice mumble incoherently. Suddenly, a booming male voice shouted, "Bitch, why are you waking me up!"
"Because you told me to! Because I need your help getting this idiot driver to the airport!"
"Oh you dirty whore! I am trying to sleep, you know I love my sleepy time. You have to ruin it like you ruin everything!"
"That's not fair, you rotten bastard!"
"You scum-sucking tramp!"
"You lousy son of a bitch! Get your lazy ass out of bed and help me like you promised."
"Oh I will get out of bed, just long enough to break your nose and split your lip."
Maggie came back into the den where I was sitting, and she was all smiles. "He'll be here in a minute. Um, if you could, please don't mention anything about minority people to him. He really hates them a lot. If he owned a gun, I hate to think what he'd do."
Her boyfriend came trudging down the hall from the bedroom. He was shirtless, and had his hands down the front of his sweat pants scratching his privates. "Are we gonna take your Dad's car?"
I spoke up. "I don't think there is room for all of us in that until it's unpacked."
He spun around and pointed his finger at my face. "Did I ask you? Was I even talking to you?" I shook my head No. He looked at Maggie. "Get me a cup of that awful coffee you make, you toxic Tinkerbell."
"Oh, shut the hell up," she said as she went to get his coffee. He looked very slovenly, and I didn't even know his name. She walked back with another mug of coffee, and said "Here you go, Maurice."
He took it from her and took a long drink from it. "So are we gonna leave now, or are we gonna stand around with our dicks in our hands all day?"
She put her hands on her hips defiantly. "It may surprise you to learn that I don't have a dick!"
"Shut your freakin' pie hole, would you?" He walked out the front door, and we followed. We all piled into her car, and he told her that she would be driving. "Don't kill us all like usual."
She held up a fist and shook it at him. "I have never killed you, not once."
"You kill me a little bit every damn day. Now drive."
"I will Maurice, but I'm gonna give you the silent treatment."
We all rolled along in the car for ten minutes in silence, and then she pondered, "I wonder if it's gonna rain today?"
Maurice shook his head and sighed. "So much for the silent treatment. Take the next exit."
"I was just asking if it would rain," she protested.
He screamed at her. "The exit you just passed! The exit you just passed, you stupid slut!"
Maggie looked sad. "Now that hurt. That was unnecessary."
"Well I say that you are unnecessary. How do you like that?"
"I don't like it. But we'll talk about that later." She turned and looked at me. "Maurice is a bit of a night owl, you know."
Maurice grunted. "Shut up, will you please just shut up."
They continued to shout at each other until we arrived at the Syracuse airport. I was eager to get out of the car, and Maurice called to me as I climbed out.
"Hey!" he called. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
"What?" I asked.
"A little something for the driver?"
"I already paid her at the house."
"No, I'm talking about a tip for services rendered."
"No, I don't think so."
Maurice fumed. "Mister, you've got no class."
I walked away, but could hear Maurice and Maggie continue to scream at each other until I entered the airport building.