52 in 52 Story 8 “Ready On Time”

After last taking extra time with “Time Travel Sucks…” I knew I didn’t have a full week to produce the next story. I wanted to keep to my schedule, though, and decided to try something so I wouldn’t fall behind. This story was written a bit like a stream of consciousness. I gave myself a topic and then just wrote it out as it came to me. There wasn’t a re-write pass, only a typo pass. This is effectively how the story came out of my head.

The topic was: What if a wife was ready on time?

Ready On time
It was 6:48pm Friday night and he was nervous. Rubbing his hand against his freshly shaved face he paced the living room downstairs. He was ready: black slacks, a maroon dress shirt and a stylish charcoal sport coat. No tie, tonight was a no tie night, besides the shoes made up for any lack of tie, they tied the whole outfit together. But he made a mistake, he had been too honest. He had reservations for 7:30pm and the restaurant is just about thirty minutes away, it was 6:49pm and he was waiting for his wife. They had ten minutes before they needed to leave to be on time – only ten minutes – and he had told her the real time they needed to leave. His face contorted as he mentally chastised himself about the error. He should have told her that they needed to leave by 6:30, or better yet 6, but he didn’t he said they had a 7:30 reservation. There was no way that they were going to make it. It was 6:50pm.
He sat in the chair next to him and pulled out his phone to call the restaurant and warn them that they might be late, but then he hesitated. It was only 6:51, she had nine minutes. He decided that he wouldn’t call until it hit the “zero hour.” He stood back up and paced. He didn’t want to turn on the TV, then it would sound like he was getting comfortable and she may take more time. He grabbed an US Weekly magazine off of the coffee table and rifled through it, but nothing caught his interest. He looked at the time on his phone again, 6:52pm. He could hear the action happening in the bathroom at the top of the stairs in the master bedroom; the clinking of make-up brushes and hair implements. The sounds of sprays and the clink of plastic make-up cases indicated that she wasn’t close to being ready. It was 6:53.
                “Almost ready, sweet heart!” Her angelic voice lilted down the stairs dancing a choreographed dance of lies that he was all too familiar with.
                “OK.” He hid his frustration. This happened every time they went out. He’d want to leave by a certain time, but, invariably, they were always at least fifteen minutes behind that time. He had forgotten what it was like to be on time. It was 6:54. He sat back down and rested his face in his hands, rubbing lightly to ease the tension. This was going to be a fantastic dinner! He had been looking forward to it all month. The chef, Patrice L’Orange, was known for his work with both beef and vegetables and finding a way to turn them into a medley of delight that would explode in your mouth. It was described by Foodie Magazine as, “…simply the most exquisite food experience that we, in this office, have ever had. No course was wasted and every opportunity to make you feel like this was the most important eating event that you would ever experience in your life was met. Even the water on the table brought with it its own flavorful joy. It’s not so much that you “eat” when you dine from Chef L’Orange’s menu, but actually die and briefly go to food heaven before the angles of fine taste and texture wrap you up in their feathered arms and return you to Earth allowing you to keep the memories of a feast that you can never forget and will probably always yearn for.” He really didn’t want to be late. This was a near impossible reservation to get and there was no way that they would hold the table. It was 6:55. 
                “OK, I’m ready.” His wife appeared next to him downstairs, he didn’t even hear her come down. His head perked up when he heard her voice, shocked to see her; looking hard like she was a phantom trying to deceive him. It was 6:56. She was stunning! Her brunette locks cascaded over her shoulders and down her back with a soft curl. Her eyes were brown and bright with just a hint of mischief. She wore a black cocktail dress that hugged her shape in a flattering way, but not so much that she looked uncomfortable. She was beautiful and it was worth the wait. Then she slapped him on the arm with her black sequined clutch, “Let’s go! I don’t want to be late!” She started toward the door and threw on a long sleeved black shrug that had a fuax feather boa collar. He bolted up and opened the door for her. He was amazed, happily so, that she was ready, not just on time but early! This never happened! Now they had enough time to get to the restaurant without any stress whatsoever. All of his anxiety melted away as he walked her to their Lincoln Towncar and opened the passenger door for her. He sat in the driver’s seat, gave one more satisfied look at the clock, 6:57, and smiled as he pulled out of the driveway.
                The drive out of the suburbs and into the city was easy and predictable, as are so many things in the suburbs. They were able to get on and off the freeway with no trouble at all. Even though the freeway part of the trip was three times as far, the drive on the surface streets took just about as much time, but he was happy because they were still on track. It was 7:15pm. They pulled up at a red light, next to another black Towncar. He always noticed Towncars now that he owned one. They seemed to be everywhere. Most were owned by limousine services, so it was neat for him when he noticed one that wasn’t, like the one next to them. They were both stopped at the crosswalk, with the other Towncar in the left lane. Suddenly, on the red, the other Towncar made a left turn, squealing its wheels as it went. The husband and wife looked at each other; that was strange. It was 7:16. As they waited for the light to turn green they heard the buzz of a motorcycle, a street bike with its high pitched revving like a rattle snake that wants to strike but is caged.  The sound crept through the traffic and then suddenly opened up as it approached behind them. The motorcycle, black and shiny like a beetle’s carapace, shot out into the middle of the intersection and spun in place as it did a wheelie landing so that it was facing the husband and wife’s car – right in the middle of the intersection! Did no one in this city worry about cross traffic?! The husband and wife were befuddled by the display of recklessness until they realized that the rider, dressed in all black, tight and armored motorcycle gear and in a fully enclosed helmet, was pointing at their car. The husband exchanged a look with his wife and then, awkwardly, made a frowny-face and pointed to himself as he shook his head no. The rider nodded slowly, “yes.” It was 7:17.
                The light turned green and he looked at his wife with shock on his face. “Drive!” she yelled and he did. He pressed down on the gas and drove right at the rider, who wasn’t moving. The rider reached into his belt, and flicked his arm at the car. The husband swerved to avoid hitting the rider and his motorcycle and heard a thud on the front of the car. For a split second he was worried that he had hit the rider, but then he saw that there was a ninja star stuck to his windshield wiper. A. Ninja. Star. He pushed harder on the gas and raced down the city street, the lights were synchronized on this stretch so they had some room to maneuver. Behind them they heard the buzz of motorcycles, like a hive of angry bees chasing them. The wife turned to look behind them and immediately regretted her decision.
                “Are there more of them,” the husband asked?
                “Drive, just drive and don’t look back.”
                They caught up to traffic and had to slow down a bit. The husband tried to maneuver around the cars just to get some space, but it didn’t help. It was 7:18. Traffic was moving, but not quickly and the buzz of the motorcycles surrounded them as the riders, all in similar black outfits, flew past them and surrounded the Towncar. Other cars on the road slowed down and got out of the way leaving the panicked couple to fend for themselves. The wife gripped onto her husband’s arm and her face was a mask of fear. His face was that of panic and concentration. The car weaved between the obstacles on the road,  mostly other cars, and he was moving fast enough that he didn’t even try to stop for the red light that he was headed toward! The Towncar blasted through the intersection, surrounded by the swarm of motorcycles. Horns honked and cars coming from the cross traffic slammed on their brakes attempting to avoid accidents. Fortunately for the couple, a truck that couldn’t stop in time slammed into a few of the riders in black, t-boning two of them and then becoming an unmovable wall for several more. It left a gap on the left side that the husband took advantage of. He peeled hard to the left and turned down the side street. A score of the riders in black buzzed past, while others, seeing the car change direction, made the turn.
                “What should I do?” The husband asked.
                “I don’t know, ram them?!” The wife gripped the dash board and was frantically looking to the sides. “Where’s a cop when you need them?” As if to answer her question a squad car passed the opposite direction and flipped a u-turn activating its lights and sirens in the process. The couple breathed a small sigh of relief and the riders began to back off and sweep down side streets. It was 7:19.
                “Please pull over.” The officer requested from the loud speaker. The husband did and both he and his wife started giggling nervous laughter as their panic started to lift. The officer got out of the car and approached the driver’s side with his flashlight out and his hand on his weapon. The husband lowered his window. 
                “Thank God you showed up,” the husband said as he pulled up his license and registration, “we weren’t sure how we were going to get out of that!”
                “What was going on? Who were those bikers?” The officer looked concerned and kept his eyes peeled on the street around them. It was a smaller side street with very little traffic.
                “We don’t know,” the wife replied, “they just started chasing us.”
                “Well, let’s get you out of here. Where are you headed?” The officer gave back the license and registration without even calling it in.
                “We have reservations,” the husband sounded exacerbated, “we’re just supposed to be getting dinner.”
                “OK, well let’s get you…” before the officer could finish his sentence his eyes went wide and he fell against the car. “Dr… driv… drive!” he forced out as his wind left him. The officer fell to the ground and the husband saw a ninja star in his back. He screamed and pulled away as quickly as he could. As they drove they saw the officer pulling his gun while on the ground and firing in all directions before a wave of black motorcycles came pouring out of the alleyways. The wife screamed and the husband turned with no real idea of where he was going. It was 7:22.
                The riders seemed to be holding back, why the couple wasn’t sure. Every time he turned they would follow and then cut him off, forcing him to go a different way. He would find his way back to a main street only to be turned back by a hail of throwing stars and motorcycle blockades. It was 7:23. The windshield was cracked and his wife was close to tears. The husband turned down an alley, the only path not blocked off and suddenly found himself face to face with another Lincoln Towncar, also all black but with dark tinted windows. The husband slammed on the brakes, stopping just inches from the bumper of the other car. All of the riders stopped and collected at the entry to the alley. Anxiety filled the alley. The couple nervously watched both ends of the alley, darting back and forth between the riders and the mysterious car. Then the driver’s side door opened on the other Towncar. A man stepped out, tall with black short styled hair. He wore a black suit, crisp white shirt and a scarlet tie. This eyes were dark and brooding and he had the chiseled features of an international super-spy. There was an exotic sub-machine gun slung over his shoulder. He didn’t look into the car at all, his eyes focused squarely on the riders at the end of the alley. He walked up to the husband’s side of the car and tapped on the glass. It was 7:24.
                The husband lowered the window carefully about half way. The man spoke softly, but firmly in a voice that had no accent, but at the same time could have been any accent. It was a voice of authority and it issued commands, “You’ve gotten yourself in a bit of trouble by getting me out of some. For that I thank you. Now it is time for me to finish this and you need to leave. Do as I say and you’ll make it out.” The man tossed a stack of cash onto the husband’s lap. “This should cover the damage done to your car, plus a little extra for your trouble. When I’m done talking you need to drive in reverse as quickly as you can and then drive away. You will not be followed; the riders are looking for me. Nod if you understand.” The couple both nodded, jaws dropped. “Then go.” The man stepped away from the car and brought his weapon into a firing position. The couple looked at each other and then the husband put the car in reverse and backed out as quickly as possible out of the alley! The riders moved if they could, but the husband clipped a couple on his way out. But they were not followed. Instead they heard the roar of motorcycle engines and the barking of submachine gun fire. They pulled out of the side street and ended up on a main road, only a few blocks away from the restaurant. It was 7:25.
                They pulled up to the valet, the car a little worse for wear with a few ninja stars hanging off of the door, the windshield wiper and the trunk. The fenders were battered, but at least still attached to the car and there was road dust on everything. The valet approached cautiously and opened the driver’s side door. The husband got out, still a bit shell shocked, and placed the stack of cash in this jacket pocket. He moved over to the passenger side and helped his wife out of the car. She was still stunned as well. They entered the restaurant and approached the hostess podium. It was 7:29.
                “Stevens, party of two.” The words came out of his mouth, but later he would not remember saying them.
                The hostess smiled, “You’re right on time; let me show you to your seat.” The hostess led them to a nice cozy booth by the window. They were seated and handed menus. The couple looked at each other suddenly realizing that they made it. They smiled at each other and then started laughing uncontrollably, like crazy people.  The hushed mutterings and glares from nearby tables helped to silence them, but they could not believe what had happened that evening. They ordered ridiculously expensive wine and decadent appetizers; they had lived so they were going to live it up! As they sipped their wine they saw a black Lincoln Towncar pull up outside the restaurant window. The passenger side window rolled down and the man with the dark hair and suit nodded to them before driving away. It was 7:47.  

Leave a Comment

Filed under 52 in 52, 52 stories in 52 weeks, adventures, fiction, marriage, married, short story

Leave a Reply