Spring 2011, Volume 10

Fiction by B. P. Greenbaum

Park And Ride

I’ve got a thing about pickup trucks. Matt had this red Ford F-250 with running boards too. Not those old clunky ones either. The color reminded me of lipstick, the kind my grandma used to wear when she’d get all “dolled up.” Let’s face it; the mailroom isn’t the most stimulating place to be. So Matt says to me one day, would I like to ride out to the lake with him at lunch and feed the ducks. Matt stands next to me a lot in the sorting room. I knew what he wanted. I didn’t fall off the turnip truck last week.

But I didn’t get excited until I saw the truck. Sweet! It smelled new under the cigarettes. Leather seats, a dark-charcoal gray. It had this panel on the dashboard where the CD player was that looked like real wood, that’s how good it was. I could barely take my eyes off it. Matt just went on and on about how he was getting promoted soon. The boss said he was too good for sorting and he wanted him up in delivery by the end of the year. He would take the exam. Sweet, I said, but I was really thinking about the truck.

Matt was a nice guy really. He had a nice face even being overweight. Someone said he lived with his mother and she cooked for him. And the hair he had left was a really nice color brown. I think he would have looked a lot better without the rug. He didn’t think anyone knew about that, but it was sooo obvious. A bunch of the girls talked about pulling it off at the last Christmas party after we’d finished the box of wine Dotty brought, but we never got to do it. Good thing probably. He didn’t have much of a sense of humor about his hair. He wasn’t anyone I’d expect to drive this truck though, so you never know.

The stick shift is wrapped in leather. Standard transmissions are just the best. The first time, I wasn’t in the truck more than ten minutes before I asked him if I could drive, and I could see he really didn’t want me to. Then we stopped for a soda, and I just jumped in and moved the seat up. I knew he’d wuss out and let me and sure enough he did. God, what a ride! He looked really annoyed when the cop pulled us over, but the guy only gave me a warning. The picnic was nice. I let him feel me up, and his mood really improved. I do have nice tits.

That’s how it all started. We’d go out once a week. He’d let me drive, and every time I’d go a little farther out. I’d let him go a little farther, too, when we’d stop for lunch, but then the lunches got shorter when the drive time got longer. There’s a lot of places to drive out of Flagstaff. I really didn’t want to get fired, but when I was driving, I didn’t care about that so much. Everybody liked me at the post office so I figured my job was safe for a while. The lunches weren’t so bad. After we’d eat, Matt would suck on my tits for a while and seemed to be perfectly happy with that. A couple of times, he pulled down his pants and asked me to spank him with this big wooden spoon. That was kind of weird but better than some things he could have asked for.

Matt used to go on and on about how he was going to run the post office some day. I figured that he had to be over forty so maybe if he was going to run the place, he would have done that by now. But I didn’t say that. As I said, Matt was a nice guy and I’d only been there a couple of years. My mother said I was lucky to get such a good job since I never made it all the way through community college. Everybody was shocked I passed the entrance exam. So what did I know?

And everything would have been fine, if it hadn’t been for the flat tire. We’d been doing our lunch dates for about six months then. God, it was hot that day. August usually is out here. One fifteen according to the temperature sign outside of the Wachovia, but that was no place near where we ended up, which was somewhere in the direction of Lake Mead. Matt told me we were going to a special place that day. I’m not sure what he had in mind, but we sure were in the middle of nowhere.

So I heard this pop and all of sudden we’re limping along, so I pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. He told me to stay put, keep the engine running and the air on. So I pulled out my nail polish and put in the new Counting Crows CD. I hadn’t done my nails in a while, and I’m really careful with my hands. I like to take my time. So I’m listening to this awesome CD and doing my nails. I heard him bang around a couple of times. He opened the door to get a bottle of water and said everything was fine. He was almost done and I noticed he was really red in the face and his rug was a little cocked to one side, but I didn’t think much about it. I turned the CD up and started working on my second coat.

So I lay my hands out on the steering wheel to dry, and I looked in the side mirror and noticed I couldn’t see Matt. I looked in the rearview, no Matt. I looked in the other mirror, and he wasn’t in that one either. My nails weren’t dry yet though, so I couldn’t get out of the truck to see where he went. But I wasn’t worried. I mean, why would I be? So about five minutes went by and even though I know they probably should dry some more, I got out of the truck and walked back. Sure enough, he’s lying right there in the road next to that flat tire.

I said, Matt, what are you doing? I mean, he was just lying on the ground, staring straight up like he’s sunbathing with his eyes open. But then I noticed he’s kind of blue, not tan, just blue. Then I thought—oh my God! I just stand there and flap my hands, drying my nails so I could touch him. You do the strangest stuff at times like that. So I felt his neck and sure enough—nothing.

I yelled but no one came. I tried my cell and sure enough—nothing. So what could I do? I mean, I looked down the road and there’s nothing. I can’t just leave him there like roadkill. So I dropped the tailgate and tried to get him into the truck. Talk about dead weight. It was so hot. As I said before, Matt was a big guy. So I tried his feet first. I got his legs up okay but couldn’t really get the rest of him, so I turned him around. But I just couldn’t pick up the middle of him. I mean, you try picking up 220 pounds and putting it onto the back of a truck. I don’t know why I tried so hard but I did and well…I dropped him. The first time he just slipped. The third time, I heard this funny snapping sound. The rug flapped back and I tried to put it on but it didn’t stick too well.

Then, I noticed just ahead the shoulder of the road sloped off. I got this idea, if I could get him down there and get the truck on a lower level, maybe I could pull him into the truck bed. I got the net he used across the back, laid it on the ground, and rolled him on top of it. I tied the net to the back of the trailer hitch and drove down the road to this spot. Thank goodness he finished the tire before he died. Like I said, Matt was a nice guy.

Anyway, I drove what had to be about a football field away and stopped. I untied him so he was on the high part of the shoulder. I wasn’t thinking too clearly. What I should’ve done was get back on the road before I backed up. But didn’t. I hit the gas too hard when I backed up instead and I felt this huge bump. I felt kind of sick then. When I got out of the truck, sure enough, there was this big old tire track on his back.

But the plan worked—kind of. The dip wasn’t that big and when I went to slide him into the back of the truck, he got stuck for a while in between the truck and the side of the hill. But I managed to get him in. I’ve heard of people tell stories about how some folks get superhuman strength when they are upset. Well, at that point, I was beyond upset.

Once he was in the truck, I picked up the flat tire and drove him straight back into town.  I kept thinking, oh Lord, how am I going to tell his mother? And God, I never got back to work. Are they going to fire me?

I got to the Park and Ride and sat there for the longest time. I ended up eating lunch once I remembered we’d never gotten to it, and it was still in the cooler in the jump seat. He’d packed chicken, potato salad, and beer. There were even candles and really good paper napkins. And he packed two wooden spoons, instead of one. I didn’t want to think about that then. Actually still don’t want to think about that. The chicken was good too. Amazing how they make those coolers. But after I ate, I’m like, now what? I couldn’t take him home like this, and I’ve missed my bus. Worse than that, I’ll never get to drive the truck again. I cry. Who wouldn’t?

If the cop hadn’t come by, I’d probably still be sitting there. It was the same statey that stopped me the first time. I didn’t recognize him, but he recognized me. Such a small world. Of course I didn’t know anything about the will until the arraignment. I mean, I knew Matt liked me, but jeez, I never expected that.

After my lawyer got me out of jail on bond, they finally figured out what happened. I told them, of course, but they didn’t believe me. That lawyer for the state said I’d beaten Matt to dead and run him over. Me! Can you imagine? But then they called in the coroner and he set them straight. He said Matt died of a heart attack, and that happened before everything else. And he was the one who found the rug by the side of the road. I think the judge felt sorry for me, for some reason.

I didn’t get to go to the funeral. It took a while for my mom to get the bail money together. Dotty said his mother looked like a bowling ball and went on and on about how all he’d left her was a credit card bill full of gas charges and his Dungeons and Dragons action figure set.

Anyway, my name’s on the truck title now and sometimes I drive to the Park and Ride and sit and talk to Matt. Some people think that’s kind of morbid, but I find it kind of nice. I have to say he wasn’t much to look at, but I haven’t found anyone else yet who liked me enough to leave me a truck.

I didn’t lose my job at the post office. In fact, the boss keeps saying I should take the carrier exam. They won’t let me drive my truck while I’m working, so I can’t get too excited about it. But everyday I drive to the Park and Ride, and I drive all I want on the weekends. Thanks to Matt I can go anywhere.

The cop that brought me in called a couple of times. He says he’s just checking up on me. I think he kind of likes me. Sweet!



BIO:  I have a B.A. in English from the University of Hartford, an M.A. in secondary education from St. Joseph College, and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine. In 2006, I was awarded second place for fiction in the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association (CAPA) annual writing contest.

Presently, I am a creative writing instructor. In addition to teaching fiction writing, advanced script writing, beginning acting, mythology, and flash fiction, I am also involved in land conservation and was appointed to the Connecticut Greenways Council. I have studied with Michael White, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Brad Barkley, and Jack Driscoll. My poetry and short stories have been published in Hog River Review and Underwood Review. I write using the pen name B.P. Greenbaum.