I wrote this for a recent workshop assignment on unpredictable plotting. I had been writing so much “deep” stuff lately (read: depressing), that writing had started getting a little depressing itself. So I tried a little humor. I decided to post it as something fun for a Saturday.
BREAKIN’ DOWN AND BREAKIN’ UP
It groaned, then seized, and died. Now only the buzz of cicadas accompanied the evening breeze’s hum. The car’s engine would hum no more.
“This is great,” Jack said. “Perfect.” He exhaled, his wheeze echoing his frustration.
He’d summed it up to her satisfaction. She hadn’t wanted to go to the cookout anyway. But he wouldn’t appreciate her agreement. Beatrice sighed.
“We’ll, I guess I’m going to have to figure this out,” he said. She said nothing. His cookout, his car, his problem.
He heaved himself out of the car. When he opened the hood, steam poured off the engine. He stepped away, batting at the vapors, his asthma giving way to a coughing fit. She giggled.
Now was probably not the time to dump him. Soon though. She hated breakups, but this couldn’t go on. Tonight. But when? And how? The situation would present itself. She hoped. The relationship, like the car, had been in trouble for a while. A tune up was not an option. Time to trade in.
He looked at the engine, wiping his hands on his khakis. Sweat stained the pant’s overstretched pleats. She knew then he had no idea what he was doing.
“We’re going to need a tow truck,” he said, disgusted at the car, at her–as if the two had conspired against him. She didn’t care. Lately, Jack’s discontent tagged along as their constant companion. She wouldn’t miss either of them.
She checked her cell phone and wasn’t surprised. “No signal.”
“Well this is great. Perfect!” he said, kicking the roadside gravel. She couldn’t stifle her giggle. He looked at her. She got out of the car and strode toward him. He didn’t scare her.
“Are you laughing at me?” he said, eyebrows arched, his head cocked to one side as if he hadn’t heard correctly. A surge in the breeze freed his over-gelled bangs, scattering them into his eyes. Now she laughed with no contraint.
“What is wrong with you?” he said, slicking the hair back into place.
“You gotta admit, it’s kind of funny: stranded on a deserted country road, no cell service. Soon Cletus will show up in a rattling pickup truck, his shotgun ready.” She laughed, at herself this time, complete with a snort.
“Who the hell is Cletus?” He’d never admired her humor.
She nearly launched into a full-bellied cackle, but a vehicle, speeding down the deserted road, cut her short. It wasn’t a rattling pickup truck, but a sleek, black Mercedes. It slowed to a stop, and the driver emerged. He didn’t look like a Cletus; he looked like a James Bond. Her gaze lingered on his dark, close-cropped hair, his double-breasted suit, and the frame that filled it. “Gorgeous,” she whispered.
“Do you need help?” A smooth English accent.
“No, we’re fine,” Jack said.
“The car’s dead, and there’s no cell service to call for a tow truck,” she said, walking away from Jack, the deceased car, the doomed evening, and toward the handsome stranger.
“Shall I take a look?” he said.
“We don’t need–”
“Yes, thank you,” she said, interrupting Jack’s protest. She brushed past him to follow the well-dressed, English stranger. He took off his jacket, tossing it to her, and she inhaled the scent of expensive cologne. She moved closer, as if interested in the engine, instead taking in his broad shoulders, his expert hands, his tight ass. Jack moved in closer, taking in a deep, apoplectic breath, complete with a wheeze.
The stranger looked to the sky. That was when Beatrice became aware of the whir of a helicopter, closing space in the darkness with a rapid descent. A spotlight bathed the perimeter with garish light. Her James Bond shook his head, as if this happened every day, and reached to her for his jacket.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have to go.” A ladder descended from the hovering aircraft. He turned away, buttoning his suit.
“Wait!” she said. “Take me with you!” The situation had presented itself. She should never have doubted.
He looked back, smiled, and shrugged his shoulders. He held his hand out for her. She took it, not giving Jack a second look.
Until he said, “Wait!” He looked small, forlorn. She almost felt sorry for him.
“Take my car,” the stranger said to Jack. “Keys are in the ignition. I’ll find you when I need it.” Jack looked from his moribund car to the Mercedes and then back to the stranger, who dangled on a ladder tethered to a helicopter with his girlfriend.
But it was a Mercedes.
Jack shrugged his shoulders. “Ok, sure,” and he was gone.
The ladder ascended, and Beatrice held tight to her rescuer.
It was her best breakup. Ever.