Driverless cars were the stupidest thing ever.
Marv Moran clipped the newspaper story on how the production of this idiocy was increasing, pinned it to the bulletin board, and proceeded to throw darts at it.
Marv Mor-ANN, not MOR-on, she said way more often than should be required. And Marv was short for Marvella, not Marvin, never mind how lean and muscular she looked or how short she kept her hair. The guys had nothing better to do than tease her, and she could take it. Actually they did have one better thing to do–beat her at drag racing –but that was a lost cause for most of them.
“Cool your jets, Marv,” came a familiar voice from behind. She hurled the last dart and turned to face Bat, the lanky, brown-eyed blond who drove like a bat outta hell but went back to being Kevin Miller, math nerd, every Monday. Not that she was still in school to see. High school sucked. She’d dropped out to take care of her dad and realized she wouldn’t need it anyway in her line of work.
“My jets are always red-hot,” Marv said, moving to the counter of the repair shop she’d inherited from her father. She stared at Bat, waiting for him to say what he was here for rather than be pressed into uttering some nicety like how can I help you.
“You see the Bugatti Chiron that just pulled into town?”
Marv snorted. “You walked all the way over here just to say that?”
“Thought I’d see you salivating over it with the rest of us, not holing up here in this cave.”
“I seen it.”
Bat shook his head. She knew that way he had of showing her she was full of shit even though he wasn’t going to call her on it this time. He was bursting with stuff to say, she could tell by the twinkle in his eyes. Of course she knew better than to say she seen it but he kept at her, like he could wear her down and get her to act like a lady, or a gal with bigger ambitions than running a body shop in Falls City, a grossly misnamed town of five thousand with no waterfalls for miles and miles.
His dark brown eyes sparkled even more, as if that was possible. “So whaddaya know about the guy who parked it at Bud’s dump of a hotel?”
She shrugged. “There you go, assuming it’s a guy.”
“You do know something!”
“Bat, if I told you even a fraction of what I know that you don’t, your head would explode.”
race night in Falls City, until highway patrol decided to flash their lights and pretend the party was over. Like the kids, the officers had little else to do on a weekend, so they never broke it up until the race was done.
Marv was always there in her dad’s old matte-black Dodge Charger, modified to more than 600 horsepower and speeds approaching 200 miles an hour. Her dad survived cancer only to die in that car when some asshole T-boned him, and the big old muscle car was said to be totaled, but Marv wasn’t buying it. Dent by dent, piece by piece, she restored the beast. The first rumblings of that thunderous exhaust when she brought the Charger back from the dead surely had Marvin Moran rolling in his coffin, trying to give her a thumbs-up.
Tonight she wasn’t driving the Charger. Tonight, she wasn’t even gonna be Marvella Moran.
“For me,” Aunt Charlene insisted. “Just this once, for me, show me how you’d look if you actually cared.”
Even her dad’s sister didn’t get it. Marv didn’t dress like she did because she didn’t care. She did whatever the hell she felt like doing, regardless of what others might think.
“So.” She held still as Aunt Charlene positioned a long blonde wig over her head. “Pretending to be something I’m not is proof that I give a shit.”
“Now, Marvella. You know that’s not what I mean.” Charlene applied false eyelashes to her niece, and handed her a push-up bra and a tight pink sweater. Marv, frowning, struggled into the quintessentially feminine stuff.
“Damn, you look good.”
“I already looked good,” Marv said.
She looked even better at the wheel of the Bugatti. Aunt Charlene handed her the keys through the window. “Jimmy will be watching with me, and it isn’t the race I’m hoping you’ll win.”
“It’s the attention of a good man like Jimmy,” Marv finished for her. “I’m not even nineteen, which is the new thirty, for awesome women like me anyway. I don’t define myself by what I wear or how many boyfriends I have.”
“Not even one!” Charlene sputtered. “I know what you’re doing, and one of these days you’ll stop trying to be your dad and just be yourself.”
“And if it takes posing as someone else to feel what it’s like to be liked, I’ll pose,” Marv scoffed.
“Hey. You want to drive my boyfriend’s car, you owe me,” Charlene said.
Marv started the car and took off with a roar of thunder. Now that felt good. That felt better than her first and last kiss.
The blacktop came to life
under the starry night sky. One perk of living in a remote corner of Nebraska was seeing the Milky Way. On a rare, clear night in L.A. some years ago, worried citizens called 9-1-1 to report a mysterious smear in the sky. They’d never seen the stars like that before.
The Dodges, the Mustangs, even a few Hondas lined up for some action and a perky cheerleader named Wendy waved a flag, getting ready to signal GO, when that Bugatti pulled up, a sexy blonde at the wheel.
Falls City hadn’t seen anything so exciting since Braniff Airways Flight 250 crashed near on August 6, 1966, en route to Omaha from Kansas City, and 38 passengers and four crew members died in a farm field late on a Saturday night. Marv wasn’t there, of course, but her dad told the story so often, she started suffering that syndrome known as false memory, and it felt like she’d stood there with him picking up debris and body parts from Grandpa Moran’s field.
Crushed metal and flying body parts were always a risk anytime someone took to the road, which is why those idiotic driverless cars were moving from science fiction to reality. Maybe in cities that shit would fly, but out here, where driving was the greatest sport available, nobody would give up the steering wheel to some computer.
All heads turned toward the blonde in the tight pink sweater roaring up in the black Bugatti. Marv grinned. Her Charger was awesome, but the French-built Chiron was said to be the fastest, most powerful car in Bugatti’s history. Sophisticated, innovative, iconic, it was a masterpiece of art and form. As was she, Marvella Moran, the girl with more muscle than the average city boy.
The ride was breathtaking. She won, of course, and raced back to Bud’s motel, where all the guys followed to see who the hell had set the night on fire.
Aunt Charlene and Jimmy would be watching as Marv stepped out and let the guys fawn over her and ask for her name and number.
She handed each one of them Marv Moran’s Body Shop business card.
Each one but Bat, that is, who stood back, arms crossed over his chest, grinning at her.
He strode over, six feet of nerd disguised as a leather-clad bat outta hell, until Monday morning. Towering over her, Bat leaned down and almost touched her ear with his lips to say, “Marv, you damn near make my head explode.”
For once, a smart retort failed her. She felt the near touch of his lips travel down to her toes, and all she could do was stare at him.
“Wanna take you to Prom, but you’re too cool for school,” he said.
“Damn right I am.”
Her heart pounded, and he tugged off the wig, and she normally would have decked him–in fun, of course–but he was smiling at her and looking not at all like the lanky kid who scored number one in Nebraska on every math decathlon.
“Much better,” he said, ruffling her short dark hair, his fingers traveling down and tilting her chin up.
“Bat, you’re getting weird on me.”
He shut up her with the second kiss of her life, and it ranked right up there with racing a Bugatti.
(Image source: pixabay)
# # #
This story —
Day 353: 5 Minute Freewrite: Monday – Prompt: muscle
— was written in response to the prompt “muscle car” at Steemit’s @freewritehouse daily #freewrite group.
Thank you, @mariannewest and @freewritehouse,