Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.
The prompt: Start with a bumper sticker. Describe the car it's on: Year, make, model, color, condition. Open the door and describe the inside of the car. Name three objects you see and a fourth you don't expect. The owner of the car appears. What does he or she look like? What does he or she say?
“Don’t like my driving? Call 1-800-EAT-SHIT,” the bumper sticker snarled.
Peculiar, I thought. It made the whole car seem unfriendly, where before it had been your average beater: A 1992 Ford Tempo, dull red, with a tarp-covered left rear window and rust working on the lower edges of the vehicle. One of the rear tires sagged, and a hitch stuck off the front fender as if an RV or a mobile home frequently pulled the car along to places unknown.
I stole a glance around the parking lot. No one else was around. What would you have done?
Okay. Probably you would’ve been a good, law-abiding citizen and left the grocery store parking lot without giving the Tempo another thought. I, however, cannot resist an adventure, no matter how stupid or criminal it may be to break into an unfamiliar car.
Besides – the doors were unlocked! That’s practically an invitation to investigate.
Heat whooshed out of the car the moment I opened the door. Even so, sweat dripped from my forehead the moment I stuck it in the car. Luckily the seats were covered in that rough, carpety sort of material rather than leather, so I didn’t burn my hands on the upholstery as well as drowning in sweat.
McDonald’s wrappers, empty Sam Adams bottles, and ripped-up speeding tickets stagnated on the floor, and the smell of cigarettes loitered. I wrinkled my nose and tried to avoid breathing. When I tried the glove box, I discovered a bluish-grey wad of gum residing beneath the handle. Ick. Never mind about the glove box, then. Ignoring the gearshift – unimpressed, since I can drive a stick myself – I crawled right into the car to examine the backseat in detail. Ooh, a steak knife. I reached for it, wondering if it had ever been used to kill anyone.
Maybe I have an overactive imagination.
Said imagination is probably the reason I sort of freaked out when a gruff, countrified voice said, “Whatcha doin’ in my car?"
I banged my head on the ceiling in my rush to get out of the car. A meaty, ruddy man with a protruding gut and a scraggly brown beard stood on the driver’s side of the Tempo, wearing overalls, a baseball cap, and a frown. The expression was more appropriate to catching a child sneaking a cookie from the jar than finding a strange woman breaking into your car, but I was still thinking about the fact that the knife I was holding might’ve been used to kill someone. I screeched as if I’d just realized the monster in my bedroom closet really did exist and ran across the parking lot, first slashing the man’s passenger-side tired with the steak knife so he couldn’t chase me down and kill me. Then I hot-wired the next unlocked car I found and zoomed away, safe from all pursuit. After all, by the time the man got new tires on his car I’d be far away. He couldn’t even give my license plate number to the police, since I’d had the good sense to steal someone else’s car rather than alert the man to the fact that my car was parked right behind his.
All this resulted in a long police investigation that went nowhere, as I wiped my prints from my escape vehicle’s steering wheel after ditching it in a hotel parking lot, dyed my hair ginger, lost a bunch of weight, and moved to Arizona, where I now live in an apartment under an assumed name.
But my misadventures here must be stories for another time.