This will be the last time we borrow our introduction from PART ONE of this three-part series.
You haven't truly lived until you've ridden to from eastern Missouri
to central Oklahoma with Hick. A journey of at least nine hours,
sometimes more. Let the record show that Val does not do highways
anymore, and she especially does not do turnpikes. She has Hick for
that. And as a grateful passenger, she is always ready and willing to
lend a hand to assist her driver. A driver who does not fully appreciate
I present, for your entertainment purposes, the following vignettes from our latest trip. Today, Part Three of THREE.
Revenge is a Dish Best Served on an Unboughten Triangular Cardboard Convenience Store Pizza Slice Plate
I suppose Hick had a bone of contention stuck in his throat regarding my upstart behavior of having turnpike toll money ready a mile-and-a-half before he needed it. A bone of contention making him unable to eat while he was driving. I declared that was fine. I didn't need that slice of pizza I had planned on picking up at our final stop before reaching our destination. I could make myself a ham sandwich when we got home, but we'd still need to stop at Casey's for gas, and for the bathroom.
Hick drove like The Bandit with Smokey on his tail and a case of Coors in the trunk. He was the envy of the Japanese maglev train, Usain Bolt, and the bottom nine of the top ten land speed record holders from the Utah Salt Flats.
I knew Hick was trying to get a rise out of me. IF I could have pried myself loose from the Gs holding me against the seat. I swear my facial skin was flapping and my hair sticking straight back like the guy in the chair from the Maxell audio cassette ads of the 80s. I looked straight ahead, and refused to take the bait. Until Hick hit a bird.
Seriously, people! When is the last time you drove so fast that a flying bird couldn't get out of your way? It hit the windshield dead center (that adjective is no accident). I think I saw its beak open in a silent caw just before the impact. The collision took a skosh of speed off A-Cad's trajectory, and I managed to lift my arms, palms up, to shoulder level. Let the record show that no verbiage escaped Val's lips.
"WHAT? Oh, you think that was MY fault? That I hit that bird? Figures!"
Hick was his regular sunny car trip self. We barreled on into Casey's town, slowing down to 40 in a 30, and he pulled up to the pumps. He didn't look at me. Or speak. I gathered up our trash (from his snacks) and put them in the garbage can. The wind was freezing, and I needed to use the facilities, so I headed inside while Hick was pumping gas. The restrooms there are single-seaters. I heard the door of the men's room slam while I was doing my business. I figured it was Hick. He drinks a soda at every rest stop, and gets out to pee at every gas stop. He's as predictable as a puppy. What goes in soon comes out.
I went up front by the registers. Three teens and a lady were pulling pizza slices out of the spinning, glass-doored pizza warmer. I glanced over there. Just because. One kid had THREE slices! It would probably have been more feasible to buy a whole pizza, but I suppose they didn't have time to waste. I, on the other hand, did.
I looked back down the restroom hallway. No Hick. It was taking him a while. Maybe he was feeling a bit...um...indisposed. From his breakfast of biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, a cinnamon roll, and three glasses of orange juice, plus the snacks of two bananas, a Snickers bar, a bag of Baked Lays, and three 20 oz sodas.
I felt silly standing there in the middle of the store, not buying anything. I didn't have any money if I'd wanted to. Hick always uses the credit card on our trips. I looked out the door. I could go back to the car, but I was sure Hick locked it. My purse was in there. So I looked back to the restroom hall. Back out to the car. So the clerk would see that I wasn't a robber or anything. I was waiting for my man. Hick was not in the driver's seat. He was not by the pump. He was not in the store. Hick was MISSING! I felt like the Home Alone boy when he woke up without a family.
I couldn't just stand there forever. So I figured I'd go out and see if Hick had locked the doors. The minute I stepped down off the sidewalk, HICK JUMPED OUT FROM BEHIND A-CAD AND GOT IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT!
I cry shenanigans! Hick did that ON PURPOSE! He left me hangin'! Didn't tell me he wasn't going to the restroom. Like he has done every single time we ever stopped there, going and coming from Oklahoma or Genius's college town. No way does it take that long to pump gas! I had been inside while he was already gassing, and had time to use the facilities and observe the pizza situation and stand around with my thumb up my butt looking like a weirdo.
That's a dirty trick, even for Hick. Especially after I had been willing to hand-feed him a pizza slice for 36 miles. AND I had gotten turnpike money ready for him AHEAD OF TIME! That's the thanks I get: being left in the middle of a convenience store all alone.
I guess I'm lucky he didn't drive off and leave me. Or am I?