What do you do when you unexpectedly find yourself in the mire? You keep putting one foot in front of the other and walk thru it. Mr. Grindle’s return call sucked me forcibly out of the rabbit hole I’d fallen into while sitting in a poorly lit park parking lot.
Step One: Start the car.
My accident prone passenger waited patiently by the curb for me, swaying slightly on his crutches. This time his ingress into the Princess’s passenger seat featured more Three Stooges antics than the grace of applied physics. My toes bore the brunt of his reentry (the whack to the back of my head with his crutch was an accident, and it only smarted a little). By the time I’d limped to the driver’s seat, The Woman already sat amongst the fluff in my backseat.
Step Two: Fishing
Me (glancing in the rearview mirror trying to confirm the carbon date of her clothes): “So straight home then?”
Mr. Grindle: “Yes.”
The Woman (her eyes fixed on Mr. Grindle’s silhouette): “He murdered me you know.”
Me (testing her): “Did you use any of the more exciting stories to explain your leg?”
The Woman: “He explained me away.”
Mr. Grindle: “No, I told my colleagues the truth when it happened. So no one asked.”
Me: “To bad. The one about breaking it in a whitewater rafting accident while escaping a ferocious man-eating bear while you were camping was inspired. But I suppose honesty is the best policy.”
The Woman: “A bear wasn’t chasing him.”
Mr. Grindle: “Less interesting though.”
Me (I suppressed a shiver at her words): “Going to do anything fun after the cast comes off?”
The Woman: “He cast off his ring when he buried me.”
Mr. Grindle (with feeling): “Yes, I am going to scratch an itch on my calf.”
Me (leaving her no other opening): “Camping?”
The Woman: “He discovered me camping at Pumpkin Mountain.”
Mr. Grindle: “No. Maybe I’ll run in one of those five-k’s my firm is always sponsoring.”
Me (pushing my luck): “Hiking?”
The Woman (deliberately detaching her gaze from my fare and placing it on me): “You don’t have to hike far to find my body.”
Mr. Grindle: “The out-of-doors doesn’t particularly interest me, a walk around Blue Lake is as close as I come. Maybe that’s what I’ll do.”
Me (looking straight ahead, adding extra pressure to the gas peddle and cheer to my voice): “Just thought you might try getting an actual bear story for the next party.”
The Woman (swiveling her attention back to its original object): “No search party came close to finding me.”
Mr. Grindle: “Wouldn’t that be fun!”
We lapsed into a thoughtful silence, which didn’t last more than two minutes before arriving at Mr. Grindle’s doorstep. Fortunately for my toes, his exit from the Princess was far less hazardous than his entry. When I closed the passenger door and glanced into my backseat, the Woman was gone. I helped Mr. Grindle weave his way up the steps to his front door. I didn’t want him to trip and break his other leg or his neck (which was a distinct possibility since the spirits he’d imbibed at the party seemed to be catching up with him). After he “helped” me unlock his front door I retraced my steps to the Princess.
Step 3: Get the hell out of Dodge.
I took a moment to sort out the FLYT ride record while sitting in his drive, this time I remembered to turn my status to ‘Off Duty’. When the front yard flooded with light I glanced up and saw The Woman’s profile filling the window. Mr. Grindle was nowhere to in sight, must still be wrestling off his coat in the foyer. Not wanting to capture her attention again I turned the key in the Princess’s ignition and reversed out of the drive. Trying, with some difficulty, to stop myself from taking one last assessment of the 80’s glam the Woman wore.
Just as I turned the corner, my FLYT app dinged lighting up my screen – Fare #86 Tip Received: $25.
I wonder if he meant to tip me more than the cost of the ride?