Why you should care
Not picking up strangers is still pretty good advice.
Fellow juvenile delinquent Mia and I were traipsing around the neighborhood, pilfering change from unlocked cars, when a limousine came along. Down rolled the driver’s window, revealing a creepy, yet welcoming, face.
“Hello, girls!” the face’s mouth said.
“Hey,” Mia and I said in unison.
“Need a ride?”
The driver took an unexpected turn. It didn’t seem particularly odd, until he turned into a shopping center and parked in the back lot.
“Is it free?” Mia asked, smiling.
“Of course!” he replied. “Hop in!” Once inside, he asked, “Where to?”
“PCH?” Mia replied.
I agreed, while surveying the bar.
“Great!” he said, glancing at us in the rearview mirror. “Help yourselves!”
“We plan to,” Mia laughed, closing the privacy divider.
I cranked the stereo and mixed some Screwdrivers, while Mia rolled a joint.
We were cruising along — savoring the weed and libations, Getz/Gilberto wafting from the speakers — when the driver took an unexpected turn. It didn’t seem particularly odd, until he turned into a shopping center and parked in the back lot. I opened the privacy divider, only to discover he wasn’t there, and when I turned around, he was practically in my lap.
“Time to have fun!” he growled, pulling me toward him. “Come to papa!” I almost laughed at his ridiculously phrased demand, but then rage stepped in.
“What the fuck!” I yelled, pushing him away.
“I thought you wanted to have fun?” he said, with a grin that screamed RAPIST.
Before I could respond, he pounced on Mia. I grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels and cracked him across the skull. The bottle didn’t break, but his head did. Blood trickled down his temple.
“I’m calling the police!” he screamed over and over again.
“Oh, no, you’re not!” Mia yelled, grabbing a bottle of Wild Turkey and hitting him again.
That one did it. He was out cold.
“Is he dead?” I asked, shaking him.
“I don’t think so,” she replied uncertainly.
I looked at her, then at him, then back at her. There was a piercing silence, as she and I engaged in a staring contest. Then, as if on cue, we burst into hysterical laughter.
“What should we do with him?” I asked.
“We could strip him and dump him here in the lot,” Mia suggested.
“That would be hilarious!” I howled.
“Or we could take the limo for a joyride?”
“Not if you’re driving,” I scoffed.
“Excuse me, but who the fuck has the driver’s license here?”
The driver let out a faint groan, causing us to jump. “Let’s vamoose,” Mia whispered, “before he comes to.”
Making our way across the lot, a convertible Mustang pulled up alongside us. “Is everything OK?” the driver asked. I wondered why he thought everything wasn’t OK. Was there blood on our faces?
“Not even close,” Mia replied. “Our limo driver just attacked us.”
“Seriously?” the man exclaimed. “I have a phone; should I call the police?” Obviously out of the question, for a number of reasons.
“No, it’s cool,” I replied quickly. “But can you give us a ride home?”
“Yeah,” Mia lied through a feigned long face. “We’ll call the cops from there.”
“Yes, I can do that, but shouldn’t I call the police now?”
“No, it’s cool,” Mia and I snapped in unison.
“All right,” he said, confusedly, “come on.” Riding shotgun, my first thought was: I hope he’s not a psychoperv too.
“I’m Diego,” he said, smiling warmly. Mia and I introduced ourselves as Pola and Schatze, respectively.
“Where am I taking you?” he asked.
Pola answered. Then we fed him the story. Not THE story, of course. When we reached our tract, Pola told him to let us off at the entrance. She was a clever girl, always thinking on her feet.
“Be sure to contact the police right away,” he said, handing me a business card, “and please call if you need my assistance.” We thanked the Good Samaritan and waved as he drove away, then plopped down on the curb.
“I wonder if he does drugs,” I said, examining his card. “Maybe he’ll come in handy someday.”
“Better hang on to that card,” Mia laughed.
“Are you hungry?” I asked, tucking it into my pocket.
“I could eat,” she yawned. “What are you in the mood for?”
“I don’t care,” I replied, catching her yawn.
“How about Chang’s?”
“Yuck! It was too greasy last time! Besides, we skipped out on the check, remember?”
“Oh yeah, I forgot,” she giggled. “Guess we won’t be going back there again.”
“Guess not,” I laughed.
“How about the Parasite?” she asked, smiling slyly.
Being chronic self-medicators, Mia and I had dislodged the (mis)adventure from our drug-soaked minds with minimal effort, until one evening…
Would you care or dare to dine at a restaurant called the Parasite? That wasn’t its real name but should have been. It was a treasured haunt for the area’s seniors and considered a hallowed landmark, but aside from the desserts, the food was inedible. Mia, however, loved the place, since it was her late mother’s favorite.
“You know how I feel about the Parasite,” I sneered.
“Come on, man!” she laughed. “It’s not that bad!”
“You and your fucking Parasite,” I grumbled. “I need a well-balanced meal, not a hot fudge sundae and a slice of pie.”
“You’re no fun,” she pouted.
I gave her the finger.
“What day is it, Sunday?” she said. “Glass is working. He’s always good for a free meal.”
Glass was the manager at another, more palatable restaurant and a detrimentally nice guy whom we exploited no end. Drugs, money, meals, rides and so on.
“Now you’re talking,” I said, standing up.
Fast-forward a few weeks. Being chronic self-medicators, Mia and I had dislodged the (mis)adventure from our drug-soaked minds with minimal effort, until one evening, at my house, when my sister’s latest date arrived. As improbable as it seemed, it was Diego!
And as expected, he recognized Pola and me right away and told my sister the whole story over dinner. She came home early and never went out with him again.