Jason is passionate about his sports car. His orange metallic Nissan 350z is his pride and joy, and when his wife demands that he teach her how to drive the car he refuses. After a leisurely lunch in Napa Valley, she persuades him to teach her how to drive stick. Judy proves to be completely inept, runs the car from the road, almost totaling it. They fight. You will never drive the Z again, he fumes as he speeds wildly along the 101 back to their hotel where they are celebrating their wedding anniversary.
CHAPTER ONE : DRIVING LESSON
“Maybe each human being lives in a unique world, a private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans.”
― Philip K. Dick
“What? No? Really?” Judy’s face was impassive but she turned away from Jason and stared at the rows and rows of Santa Rosa car dealerships that flashed past them. The 101 was deceptively quiet, and Jason was speeding again.
“Why can’t I drive the Z?” Judy tried again.
Jason slammed down a gear, and tail-gated a stretch limo full of week-end wine tourists before swerving wildly into the slow lane. Judy shrank back in her seat and instinctively reached to hold on to the ceiling handle, but the Z didn’t have a ‘chicken-handle’ and she dropped her hand and held on to the edge of her seat.
The limo flashed its head-lights and Jason snarled and gave the driver the finger.
He turned to Judy, and gave her that sheepish, innocent look that used to turn her on so much. He now just looked dumb, she thought. “Read my lips J. Alger Jud. Jail time.”
“What? Just because you don’t have a middle name you are suddenly in charge” Jason mocked her. “You’re not my mother.”
Judy looked at Jason, and then burst out laughing. “I married a fool.” She now really laughed. Jason was a nerdy guy and a sense of humor was definitely not his thing. He blushed and revved the engine. The Nissan roared and shot forward with a shudder. Jason missed a gear. The car screeched, the sound of metal on metal, and ended up in fifth. Jason slowed down as the engine ran out of breath. He struggled, found third gear, and the car gained speed again.
“It was supposed to be my car too?” Judy couldn’t give it a rest. “Baby, it’s your car too” she mimicked Jason in a stupid sounding voice. “So if it’s my car too, I can drive it too.”
Jason ignored his wife.
“I’m talking to you” she repeated herself. She touched his leg, and he swerved.
“Goddamit woman, don’t do that!”
“Please. Please-please-please-please.” Judy reverted to flirting when all else failed, and she was now putting on her little girl bit Jason used to find so very irresistible, but he seemed completely unaware of her presence as he closed in on a new Mustang and felt the need to compete again.
“So how are we going to Napa if we just passed Windsor? This is the 101 you know?” Judy taunted Jason, trying to evoke some reaction. Judy really didn’t like being ignored, and she had tremendous difficulty staying quiet for longer than a second. She needed constant chatter to breathe, and when Jason was gloomy or sulking, her verbiage became almost clinical. “I am talking to you my husband?”
“Geyserville. I’ll take Highway 128 south-east from there. We can have lunch in Calistoga. If you’re a good girl.” Jason smiled now, and put his hand on Judy’s silky smooth knee.
“So we can have lunch at Sam’s Club?” Judy asked, remaining in her girlie incantation.
“Hey? I’m not eating at Wal-Mart? Do they even have a Wal-Mart in Calistoga?” Jason asked perturbed.
“Not Sam’s Club–Sam’s Club silly. Sam’s Social Club. In the Indian Springs Resort.”
“That’s on Highway 29.” Jason said.
“Yes darling. Are you displaying your geographical genius, or is there a question or statement in there somewhere?” Judy teased.
“I mean, it’s not really on our way is it?”
“You said you wanted to drive. So drive.”
It was cool inside and they were seated in the lounge, close to the bar. Judy was staring at the colorful wall painting behind the bar that seemed to depict two women in a field. “Why does that woman have – what – a pineapple on her head?” she asked
Jason felt tired after the long drive. He rarely drove the Nissan, and using the clutch incessantly cramped his foot. He tried to maneuver his leg onto the coffee table, but gave up when he saw his wife’s expressive face depicting a heart-attack.
“Come on fatty, why the pineapple? You’re the big intellectual in the family.” Judy looked at Jason with what he would have described as her dachshund face, head tilted slightly to the right, frowning eyes.
“I’m not fat” Jason instinctively retorted. “Bit overweight maybe.” He touched the slight bulge over his stomach, and looked at her invitingly, expecting her to reassure him that he was actually quite skinny.
“So why the pineapple, skinny?”
“Hello darlings. Ready to order?” Jimi put their drinks down on the coffee table, and smiled, exposing his marijuana smokers teeth. He was as thin as a blade, and had his hair folded into a bun.
“Can we eat outside?” Judy asked.
“You’re welcome” Jimmy flipped back.
“I’ll go for the lamb burger. You Jude?”
“Fish tacos. Please.”
“Yum. No one outside. Pick any table you like.”
Jimi seemed to glide rather than walk. “He is wearing Opium perfume” Judy whispered.
“Why are you whispering?” Jason asked.
“It’s a women’s perfume dummy. It’s what I wear?”
“How do you know?”
“What? Like I don’t know Opium? Please.”
“You know there is no such thing as a male or female perfume don’t you? Old Spice used to be for women. Now it’s for men. It’s just the marketing that makes it male or female.”
Judy looked dumbfounded. “Typical. So I’ll start using your deodorant. We’ll see how that works for you tonight. Lard-ass.”
Jason seemed mellow after lunch. He took her hand when they strolled back to the glimmering orange Nissan. “Even if it’s the same perfume he wears, it smells better on you, sexy.” He put his hand on her cheek and gave her a huge open-mouthed kiss. “Happy anniversary darling.”
“You too Jase. Now can I drive the Z?”
“What? No thank you for marrying me? No offer to serve and obey me? Just, give me the keys I’m driving?” He was slightly amused, but Judy could see his humor was only skin deep. He looked at her feet. Her long smooth legs ended in stilettos. “You’ll have to take” – he pointed at her feet – “those things off. You won’t be able to drive the clutch with heels. You’ll have to go barefoot.”
“So start in second. First is short. And watch the clutch. It’s a racing clutch. It’s very short. You can’t drive on the clutch. It’ll burn. So you.” He stared at Judy. She had a grin on her face, and he knew she didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “Just drive.”
The car roared. Judy revved the engine aggressively, and then some. Jason shifted uncomfortably in the passenger seat. “Careful now” he offered, but Judy dropped the clutch and the powerful engine screamed as the back tires spun on the dirt. She hit the tarmac, and the car swerved left.
“Watch out!” Jason screamed. “You have to compensate to the right….!”
Judy lost control and took her foot of the pedal. The car shuddered and the engine smothered. Now the Nissan was standing sideways across the road, its nose pointing towards the downward side of the slope. The Z started to roll forward, and Judy, her face ash-white, tried helplessly to brake.
“It’s too hard, I can’t break without the engine,” she shouted in a high-pitched voice. She tried to steer the car to the left, but the steering was very heavy, and the Nissan rolled down the slope.
Jason grabbed hold of the hand break and pulled it back violently. The car rolled for another micro-second, and struck the corner of a concrete storm drain just before the hand break took hold. Something cracked and shattered, and Jason exploded, his facer red as a bell pepper.
“That’s It woman. Never again. You will never drive this goddam Z again. Ever. Ever again. Dammit!”