The sun was just coming over the horizon when they entered the empty freeway. Since they had nothing in common; they drove in silence. Cindy was enjoying it, but George, ever the partier, decided to put on his CD. It was hard rock, something Cindy couldn’t stand. How could anyone listen to that trash! She was a classical music person. Then again, she was just grateful for the ride, she would deal with the offensive noise. Just then, George challenged the speedometer, and was going twenty miles over the speed limit.
“Uh, George, don’t you think you’re going a little fast?”
“No, there’s no cops around, relax babe.”
That’s when he saw it. Blue and red lights were flashing in his rearview mirror. The screaming siren assaulted his ears. He turned the music off, and pulled over to the side of the road.
As the cop pulled up beside him, he rolled down the window, and with an innocent voice said:
“Is there a problem, officer?”
“License and registration, please”
George handed him the documentation.
The cop lectured him on speeding and issued him a citation.
“Damn it” George complained. I already have too many points.
Frustrated, Cindy thought to herself, we’re never going to make it. My sister could be dying and this idiot gets us a speeding ticket.
Time was of the essence. Cindy had gotten a call in the middle of the night giving her the horrible news. Her sister had had a heart attack, the second in a year. She was only 45. Life just wasn’t fair. She remembered the horrible phone call last night. She was told her sister kept asking for her. Perhaps if she got there, she could prevent a tragedy. But at this rate, with this jerk, who knew what would happen. Jerk or not, she was very grateful to him.
Her car had refused to start that morning and he rescued her. Being a mechanic, he told her that her car was going nowhere. The radiator was shot. She remembered the argument with her car that morning all too well.
She turned the engine over and over and nothing happened. She finally got out and looked under the hood. Just than her neighbor was standing beside her. She couldn’t stand him and his arrogant ways, but right now he was a Godsend. She watched the young man with the scraggly pony tail and ugly tattoos, examine her very old “dependable car.” After he told her the news, she broke down. She was so embarrassed for him to see her like that.
“Oh, that’s just great, my sister is in Vegas maybe dying and my damn car won’t start. “Worthless piece of junk" Tears rolled down her face.
“Whoa, lady school teachers don’t talk that way. And don’t cry, I’ll take you there. There’s a tournament I’m going to in Las Vegas. I’ll drop you off to see Sis; I’ll be your personal taxi.”
So here they were. They could have been there an hour or so if it wasn’t for his childish shenanigans. Because of his reckless driving, before the ticket incident, he had almost hit a car head on. For a mechanic, he sure did treat his car like trash. She kept telling herself over and over again how thankful she should be to him. This trip was an absolute nightmare, but that was unimportant. She could deal with George and all his antics just so he got her there. Why was he like this anyway? She looked around the car, and glanced at the dashboard. There was a picture of a little boy. Who was that, his illegitimate son?
“That’s a cute little boy, who is he?”
George suddenly became very somber, and said, “He was my little brother.”
Cindy didn’t miss the “was”. Should she ask? Or would it be too painful for him. It was odd for a man to carry a picture of a child on his dash. George didn’t wait for her to ask, he just blurted it out:
“He died when he was twelve and I was sixteen, it was a drowning accident.”
“I tried to save him but couldn’t, and we never made it to the hospital on time”
Suddenly, Cindy understood everything. There was no tournament. The ride was never offered until she mentioned her dying sister. Going what he went through was sheer torture. If he could prevent someone else from going through that hell, it was worth it. There was a side to this annoying man that was truly caring. So why didn’t he show it?
After an arduous journey, they finally made it to the hospital. She thanked him profusely for the ride. She offered him gas money, but he refused. He smiled at her and said,
“Hey lady school teacher, what are neighbors for?”
He sped off without another word. Cindy noticed he didn’t enter the city, but backtracked to I-95, the freeway back to Yuma.
She entered the hospital, and asked where her sister was staying. They gave her the room number and she ran as fast as she could down the hall. She burst in the door and was horrified.
Her sister lay there helpless with tubes coming from every part of her body. She glanced at the monitor when it made a horrible noise. She had flat-lined! Cindy screamed and without thinking, shook her sister as hard as she could. That’s when the miracle happened. Wavy lines danced on the screen, and her sister was alive again. With the smallest of voices, she whispered,
“Houseape, is that you?”
“Yes, yes, it’s Houseape!” This was a childhood name that somehow stuck. It was now a name of affection.
After the seeing the flat line on their monitors, doctors and nurses came rushing in. Cindy and Karla were sitting on the bed like nothing had happened. The medical staff just stared in disbelief. The doctor checked her over. He took her vitals, and they were perfectly normal. Confused, he shook his head. She had been on her death bed. This other woman comes in and….
Cindy bowed her head in silent prayer, “Thank you Lord…and George.”
Mary E. Lacey