A Truck Full of Strangers
This is my second round story for the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest. Genre: romantic comedy. Subject: sense of direction. Character: an aficionado. The word limit was 2,000 and it came in at 1,997 words. Whew!!!
Required Brief Synopsis: Molly won a radio contest. Her dream came true in more ways than one.
June 11, 1985
“It’s Rowdy Randy Kincaid on the biiig Q-102. It’s contest time! Be the eleventh caller at 840-0102 for a pair of free front row tickets to the Bee Gees concert on Saturday brought to you by the biiig Q-102.”
Molly turned the radio down, picked up the phone, and dialed 840-0102 with her heart knocking around in her chest like the silver ball in a pinball machine. She heard the busy signal and frowned at Jimmy, her coworker, standing by the Mr. Coffee.
She dialed the number again. Her face lit up when she heard a deep voice say, “It’s Rowdy Randy Kincaid on the biiig Q-102. You’re the eleventh caller. Who am I talking to?”
“Yes,” she shouted with a fist raised in victory. “I’m Molly Sanders.”
“Congratulations, Molly. You and a guest will be joining me on the front row at the Bee Gees concert brought to you by the biiig Q-102.”
“Thank you. This is amazing. I love the Bee Gees.”
“Molly, what’s your favorite station?”
“My favorite station is Q-102.”
“Uhmmm, Molly, I need you to say the biiig Q-102,” Rowdy Randy said.
“Oh, sorry. My favorite station is the big Q-102.”
“That’s better, but can you do it one more time with more enthusiasm?”
“I just need more energy from you,” said Rowdy Randy. “I’m recording this for a promo, and you sound half asleep.”
“I am half asleep.” Molly watched Jimmy pour a cup of coffee. “I’m working a double shift at Mercy Memorial and I’m dead on my feet.”
“Well, if you want these tickets, I’m going to need a little more oomph.”
A flash of irritation almost caused her to slam the phone down, but she didn’t have the oomph required to pull that off. Jimmy set the coffee cup on the table in front of her. She watched him remove his stethoscope from around his neck and walk to the wall of employee lockers.
Her gaze shifted to the poster of Barry Gibb hanging on the wall next to her locker. All that glossy hair, those pearly teeth, and tight jeans made her say, “My favorite station is the biiig Q-102” with enough energy to light Times Square for a month.
“It certainly is,” she said with her eyes on Barry Gibb’s down-to-there unbuttoned shirt. She sipped coffee and listened to Rowdy Randy tell her the details of her prize package. When the call ended, she grinned at her fellow nurse.
“Guess who is going to the Bee Gees concert.”
Getting to her feet, she said, “Yes, we are. The radio station is sending a limo for us and, you’re not going to believe this, we get backstage passes.” She hugged Jimmy.
“I knew there had to be a good reason I hang out with you all the time,” he said.
“Awww, you know you can’t resist my beauty and stunning intelligence.” She reached up and felt his forehead. “Are you feeling okay?”
“I’m feeling great.”
“I’m not sure, but I think you’ve got a little fever,” she said. “A little Saturday night fever.”
He groaned and playfully pushed her away. “Hey, this means no video games and box wine like our usual Saturday night. I’ll miss you beating me at Mario Kart for the hundredth time.”
“There’s always next weekend,” she said. “The only thing I’m not looking forward to this weekend is Rowdy Randy tagging along with us. He sounds like a jerk.”
* * *
Molly pushed play on the CD player. The Bee Gees started singing about Massachusetts. She held out her glass. Jimmy filled it with cheap, tart, white wine. “Do you know how to spell Massachusetts?” he asked.
“No and I don’t know where that damn limo is either. We’re going to be late.”
“Oh, stop that jjjjive talkin’,” Jimmy said. “We have plenty of time.”
She snorted wine up her nose. “Ouch, that hurts. Don’t make me laugh. I need to concentrate on being mad. The concert starts in less than an hour. Where is Rowdy Randy?”
She was swallowing a gulp of wine when the doorbell rang. A small man wearing large glasses stood on the doorstep. “Who are you?” she asked.
“Hi. I’m Rowdy Randy from Q-102.”
“Don’t you mean the biiig Q-102?”
“I know you’re not Rowdy Randy because you don’t sound like him or look like him.”
“Yeah, I am and I’m sorry I’m late. The limo driver has no sense of direction. We’ve been driving in circles.” He stepped inside, following her to the living room. “What am I supposed to look like?”
She wanted to tell him he’s supposed to look like Barry Gibb, but she held her tangy tongue.
“Hi, I’m Jimmy.” The men shook hands.
“Please call me Randy. Just Randy.”
“You got it, Just Randy.”
“No, no. Just call me Randy.”
“Guys we need to get a move on,” Molly said. “I don’t intend to miss a minute of the Bee Gees.”
“Yeah, if we miss them singing “Tragedy” that would be a real tragedy,” Jimmy said.
She rolled her eyes. “Let’s get going.”
“Please forgive Molly’s rudeness. She’s very punctual,” Jimmy said.
“She’s not the only one,” Randy replied. “I hate being late.”
The trio stood in Molly’s driveway looking at the black limo with orange flames painted on the sides. “That’s the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen,” Jimmy said.
The limo driver opened the door with a flourish. Molly stuck her head in the vehicle and looked around for a few seconds before turning to the men. “That’s the tackiest thing I’ve ever seen.” Jimmy eagerly stepped around her and got in the limo.
“I agree. It’s beyond tacky but we really need to go,” Randy said.
“Hey, there’s a disco ball in here,” Jimmy exclaimed, “and a bar.” He was sprawled on the seat facing the driver. Molly and Randy sat on the seat facing Jimmy. The disco ball began twirling overhead when the driver started the engine. Jimmy was mesmerized. Molly made eye contact with Randy. He smiled at her. She looked from his kind eyes to his mouth. He had a nice smile for a jerk.
Jimmy was busy mixing a lot of Crown with a little Coke. He used his finger to stir. “Molly, do you want me to mix you a drink?”
She watched him stick his finger in his mouth. He licked it clean, leaned over, and wiped it on her white Jordache jeans. She swatted his hand away. “No, thank you very much.” Turning back to Randy, she asked, “Why do you sound different on the radio?”
He answered in his rapid fire, exaggerated announcer voice, “You mean why don’t I sound like this all the time?”
“Yes.” A giggle climbed up her throat. “That’s what I mean.”
“It’s exhausting and fake and really annoying to sound like that all the time,” he said in his regular voice.
“You’re right about that.”
“It’s no different than when the Bee Gees perform,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“I think they suck helium from balloons before they sing, but they don’t sound like that all the time.”
“Did you just say the Bee Gees suck?” Jimmy said. “You better be careful talking like that around their number one fan. Molly is a Bee Gees aficionado. Do you know what an aficionado is, Randy?”
He ignored the question, staring out the window instead.
Jimmy answered his own question. “An aficionado is what a weirdo calls herself so that no one else will call her a weirdo.”
Randy turned away from the window with an odd look on his face. He mashed a button lowering the partition between the front and back. “Which direction are we headed?” he asked the driver.
“We’re headed east, Sir.”
“No, we’re not. You’ve done it again. We’re going the wrong way. We should be headed in the opposite direction.”
“I’m so sorry. I’ll turn around as soon as I can.”
Randy raised the partition. “This is unbelievable. Out of all the limo drivers in the world we get one who is directionally challenged.”
“Maybe I should drive,” Jimmy said. He took another drink.
“Absolutely not,” Molly and Randy said in unison.
Randy looked at his watch. “We’re going to miss the opening act.”
“I can live with that,” Molly said. “I’m just so happy to finally get to see the Bee Gees in person. It’s my dream come true.”
“You’re an aficionado and you’ve never seen them perform live?”
“I’ve never had the chance before now.”
“She records all their MTV videos onto VHS tapes and studies them,” Jimmy said.
“That’s impressive,” Randy said.
“No, that’s crazy.”
“Did you just say your girlfriend is crazy?”
“Eeeew, I’m not his girlfriend.”
Jimmy licked his finger again and tried to stick it in her ear. “You know you want to be.”
She kicked his leg. “You are so immature. How did you get to be such a great nurse?”
The limo shuddered; they heard a loud bang. The car swerved sharply to the right. When it finally stopped, Molly was wedged against Randy.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
She slid back to her side. “I’m fine but what the hell?”
They all got out of the car that was straddling the double yellow lines on a two-lane road. There wasn’t any traffic. There wasn’t any anything except for a lone tower in the distance.
Randy asked the driver, “Where are we?”
“I have no idea,” he said.
“Well, that’s shocking news,” Randy replied.
Jimmy knelt by the right rear tire. “This tire’s a goner. Looks like a blowout.”
The limo driver tried to start the engine. Smoke billowed from the hood. The car wouldn’t start.
Molly pointed in the direction of the tower. “Guys, look.”
An 18-wheeler was headed their way. The driver put the limo in neutral and hopped out of the car. He hollered, “Help me push this piece of crap out of the way.”
The four of them pushed the car off the road. The 18-wheeler slowed to a stop behind them.
Molly used the hem of her peasant blouse to wipe sweat off her face. She tried to brush the dust off her jeans without much luck. “What’s that horrible smell?”
“Moooooooo. Mooooooooo. Mooooooooo.”
“It’s a cattle truck,” Jimmy said.
“Of course it is,” she replied.
They watched the truck driver climb down from the cab. “Hey folks, need a ride?”
Space was sparse. The limo driver sat in the front with the truck driver. Molly sat between Jimmy and Randy in the sleeping compartment. The smell was only slightly less awful inside the truck. The saving grace was the fact the truck driver was also a Bee Gees fan.
“Nights on Broadway” spilled out of the speakers. Jimmy sang along, “Heeeeere we are in a truck full of strangers.”
“Cut it out,” Molly said. “I’m not in the mood. I look horrible. My hair smells like cow manure and my dream is circling the drain.”
Randy tapped the truck driver on the shoulder. “I’ve got a front-row ticket and a backstage pass to the Bee Gees concert. If you’ll take us straight to the coliseum, I’ll give you my ticket and pass.”
“Mister, you’ve got a deal,” said the truck driver.
Molly wrapped her arm around Randy’s shoulder. “Thank you. That’s so sweet.”
“It’s the least I can do to make your dream come true,” Randy said. Molly kissed him on the cheek. “Can you do that one more time with a little more oomph?”
“With pleasure,” she said. The second time she let her lips linger.
“I have a confession,” Jimmy said. “I don’t like the Bee Gees.”
Molly stared at him in shock. “What?”
“I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. If I let Randy take my place will you let me win at Mario Kart at least once?”
“I’ll let you win every game.”
All Hail the Bee Gees!!!