by Bill Tope

“I really appreciate you driving me to my appointment today, Cindy,” said Molly, slipping into the other woman’s lime green 1968 Mustang. Cindy was a volunteer from Molly’s church and was driving the older woman to a dental procedure in the next county. Molly looked around her. “I’ve never ridden in a genuine muscle car before,” she remarked brightly. Cindy, a short, stocky blond with orange lipstick and deeply lined eyes, sat clutching the wheel, saying nothing. She was of indeterminate age. In the ensuing silence, the engine purred softly.

The two sat unspeaking for several minutes before Molly spoke up again.

“Well, it’s nearly thirty miles to the dentist’s, so maybe we should get started.” More silence. Molly peered over at her driver and tittered uneasily. “Cindy, I…” but she got no further. Cindy stomped on the accelerator, and off they sped, reaching 90 mph in no time at all. Still, Cindy said nothing.

Vexed by Cindy’s continued silence, Molly tried again. “Do you know where the clinic is, dear? Because I think it’s in the other direction.”

“We’re going on an adventure,” said Cindy in a scary voice. Suddenly she veered off the highway and onto a side street, downshifting and causing the motor to scream. Molly clutched her leather seat and held on for dear life.

“What’s the matter with you?” Molly demanded, almost hysterically. They tore up first one avenue and then another, at one point running off the road and into a yard in a residential neighborhood. Cindy narrowly avoided a lawn jockey but did take out a filled birdbath, with cardinals and robins fluttering away in alarm. The bowl struck the windshield, leaving a little crack, and water flowed across the front of the car. At length, they exited the yard and went ker-plunk down onto the road, shearing off the muffler in the process. Molly watched in the outside mirror as the muffler disintegrated in an explosion of carbon and rust, trailing after the car in its wake. “Cindy,” said Molly nervously, “you…”

“I know where I’m going,” Cindy asserted, then, to drown out Molly’s voice, she switched on a Country & Western station on the radio, and Reba McIntire began raising an unholy racket. “You like Hank Williams, Molly?” asked Cindy unexpectedly.

“Wha…what?” sputtered the other woman. “Who?” Out the window, she watched telephone poles swishing past like the posts of a picket fence. She gazed at the speedometer; they were traveling in excess of 110 mph now. Molly gulped.

“Hank. Williams, Molly!” snarled Cindy crossly. “Girl, you don’t know nothin’ about country and western!” She leveled the remark as an accusation.

It occurred to Molly that her very life might be in danger. She really didn’t know anything about this woman; she had only met her today. She glanced out the window, but if anything, they were moving even faster. An idea suddenly occurred to her. “Cindy,” she said, breathing rapidly, “does a Mustang have good brakes?”

A low, guttural sound arose from Cindy’s throat, and abruptly, she stomped on the brake pedal. The car screeched and turned sideways in the road, and burnt rubber sent up an effluvium that was nearly overwhelming. But Cindy had failed to keep her foot on the clutch, so the motor died, giving Molly the opportunity she needed. Seizing her chance, she swung open the door and leaped from the stalled vehicle. As she alighted, Molly pressed her thumb to the end of her nose and wiggled her fingers tauntingly, chanting,

“Nyah! Nyah! Nyah! and scooted off rapidly down the road.

“Get back in the car, Molly!” shouted Cindy, now very angry.

“I am so out of here,” answered Molly, walking back the way they’d come. Cindy began clambering out of the car, and Molly observed for the first time that her traveling companion was garbed in a green taffeta tutu. Molly blinked. 

“I’ll get you,” vowed Cindy, and she was about to overtake Molly when a cattle truck barreling down the road sideswiped the Mustang, taking it out along with the driver.

Livestock could be heard mooing in the wake of the vanishing vehicle.

Molly paused only long enough to answer Cindy’s question:

“And no, I don’t freakin’ like Hank Williams!” She stuck her thumb out to hitchhike.

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