M.I.L.F. Garage – Part One

I recently went three weeks without my beloved mom-mobile.  My 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe. Complete with tow package, grill guard, running boards, removable third row and suped-up stereo system. Aww yeah. Top. Of. The. Line.  Top of the line for 2002 that is.

This is the vehicle I have been driving through three company changes, a first house, first baby, second baby… It’s helped my friends move, it’s helped us move, gone on countless family vacations with my younger siblings crammed in the back, sandwiched in-between the car seats and all the crap a family with babies takes with them on vacation… It’s fast, it can be intimidating on the road, and after all these years the sound system still kicks ass (although I’ve had to replace a speaker here and there). I love driving it.  And I’m fairly certain it likes having me be it’s primary driver.

It’s name is The Beast.  He’s a boy.

Weird fact about me, I’ve only driven two types of cars in my lifetime. Toyotas and Chevys. My dad is a devotee of both so it stands to reason that my vehicle choice would reflect that.  My two Toyotas, a 1994 Corolla (it was a nerd-mobile, but it was cool) and a 2001 Celica (that little car could go so fucking fast), were both girls. My other Chevy was a 1994 Cheyenne pickup truck. It was a full-size, single-cab, and on the outside it looked pimp but on the inside it had no frills at all. Like NONE. But I didn’t care. I loved him from the minute I saw him.  I cried when I traded him in.  Like a baby. My dad loved that truck too; he still says he wishes he had just bought it from me. I always agree with him. Then at least I’d have gotten visitation rights.

People ask me why I would rather re-build a transmission than get a new car.  I give all sorts of excuses about how it’s cheaper than a new car payment (which, hello, it is). But the truth is, I know that The Beast has a few good years left in him yet. He’s worked too hard to be put out to pasture before he gets to see kiddo #2 enter kinder, the family it’s loved and schlepped all over the damn place move into a newer, nicer home… The Beast has seen us, me, through so much. If I could save him, I would. In this case. I could.

I am aware that me driving an ’02 Tahoe is the equivalent of those soccer moms driving a raggedy-ass minivan in the early millennia… I know that my trendier friends look down at me a little for still driving a vehicle that boats a body (gasp) almost 12 years old and two body styles ago. Yes, he’s a little long in the tooth. But as one of my friends told me, “It still looks nice.”  And as I mentioned earlier – the sound system still rocks. Yeah, I think there are some pretty sweet SUVs and trucks out there… But me and the Beast are going to be sticking together for a little while longer.

-Shan

PS – promise in Part Two I’ll explain the title. It is catchy, isn’t it?

Tall People… – Part Two

Once I have a thought, I tend to think on it (aka obsess) until it becomes something. This one’s been mulling around since last night…

-shan

“Sometimes I wonder if really tall people are just aliens in disguise…” she trailed off in her usual way. It was like Sam to verbalize some strange inner monologue only to get quiet, lost in her thoughts again, with no memory or knowledge of even verbalizing them in the first place.

I looked up from my computer and took a long look at her. She was sitting on the couch, where she was supposed to be doing some work of her own.  Her legs were curled up underneath her; her arm was propped up on the armrest, her hand under her chin, as if to hold her head up for her neck. She was staring blankly at her computer. Clad in her “PJ” (Sam used acronyms and abbreviations whenever possible) pants and an ACDC t-shirt that had to have been at least 15 years old, argyle socks on her feet, no makeup and her auburn hair twisted into a bun on top of her head she would have said she looked “a hot mess”. I thought she looked amazing. Sam had no idea how beautiful she was.

She took a swig of her beer. Sam loved beer; she drank it regularly and could probably out-drink most dudes. But you’d never know it to look at her.  She was a tiny little thing… she had to have the metabolism of a jackrabbit.  I laughed a little, trying to think of what might have led her to that particular thought about tall people and aliens. “What was that, babe?” she asked, shaken from her thoughts by my laughter. I gave her a quizzical look and took a drag of my cigarette. “Tall people and aliens??” I said as I exhaled.  She grinned sheepishly. “Oh, that.  Just a thought I had for a story. Not really sure what got me thinking along those lines, but as a vertically challenged person, I think it could be an interesting concept…” “So what constitutes really tall?” I asked. “I mean, I’m over six feet, would I classify as really tall?” She gave me a real smile at that. Damn she had a beautiful smile. It lit up her whole face. “No, silly, I was thinking like NBA player tall.” “Oh thank goodness,” I replied with mock relief. “I would have hated to have had to take you to our mother ship to lobotomize you if you had discovered our tall people secret.” She smiled her beautiful smile once more, took another sip of beer and turned back to her computer.

I took one last look at her and looked down at my computer myself, where I had been transmitting the latest recon (Sam’s penchant for shortening words was rubbing off on me) data into space. “Shit…” I thought to myself, “that was a close one.”

Plain Jane – Part Four

Tuesday morning Jane woke at 6am, washed her face, brushed her teeth, fed the cat and dressed for her run. She took another look at her running shoes and made a mental note to go online during lunch and buy a pair.

Each day, Jane ate her lunch in the cafeteria from 11:30am to 12:30pm. She would eat a turkey and cheese sandwich, dry (Jane didn’t use condiments), a pickle spear and five potato chips (she would chose the best ones from the bag and toss the rest) with a glass of water.  She would read while eating. On the rare occasions Jane needed clothing or shoes, she would take her food back to her desk and purchase them online during her lunch hour.

Jane walked up to the fitness center and noticed that the lights were already on. Someone was probably in there. She placed her headphones atop her head, and headed directly for the treadmill in the corner. She stopped dead in her tracks upon looking up and noticing that it was occupied. It was him. The lost key man. Running on her machine. “Almost done,” he mouthed breathlessly, “just a sec…” He slowed and hopped off. “All yours.” Jane eyed the droplets of sweat he had left on her pristine treadmill. “Are you going to wipe that off?” she blurted. “Well, miss manners, now that you mention it, no.  Not until you give me a decent thank you for finding your key.” he smiled a devilish smile at her, turned, and walked out the door.

With the additional five minutes required to disinfect the machine with antibacterial wipes, Jane started her run ten minutes late that morning. She showered, dried her hair, and dressed ten minutes behind schedule. She ate her breakfast, watched the morning news, washed her dishes, and left for work ten minutes behind schedule. There was more traffic than usual, causing Jane’s commute to take an extra 5 minutes. Jane arrived to work at 8:15am.

The security guard noticed Jane hurrying in. “Running a little late”, he chucked to himself.

To allow for her being late (late for Jane), Jane went to buy her lunch at 11:45am. The line was longer than usual, which took longer than Jane had anticipated. When she reached the cashier Jane realized that she had left her credit card at her desk. By the time Jane returned to her desk, with food, it was 12:30pm. Jane did not order her shoes.

On Wednesday Jane approached the gym with trepidation and was relieved to find no signs of him or anyone else. She completed her run and with a huge sigh of relief stepped off the treadmill. Just then he walked in. “Oh crap!” Jane muttered and then covered her mouth in surprise (Jane didn’t curse). He started laughing. “You’re way too cute a girl to wear that sour look on your face all the time. I’m John, by the way.” Still holding her mouth, Jane walked past him, out the door, and then ran to her apartment.

“What a weird fuckin girl”, John thought as he watched her walk away. He shook his head and ran his hand through his hair and looked back in time to see her head through the doorway at a rapid pace. Damn if he didn’t kind of like it. John smiled.

Jane cut her breakfast/TV time down by 5 minutes on Wednesday in order to leave for work on time. She arrived to work at promptly 8am. During her lunch hour, she ordered her new running shoes.

Plain Jane – Part Three

Monday morning Jane woke at 6am, washed her face, brushed her teeth, fed the cat and dressed for her run. As she was putting her shoes on she noticed the soles were looking worn. Jane owned two pairs of shoes. One pair was her running shoes. The other were burgundy loafers, the same kind she had worn every day since grade school.  Whenever either shoe wore out, Jane would replace them with the same pair.

Ten minutes into her run, a man walked into the room, dressed in workout gear. Jane adjusted her headphones and looked straight ahead in her usual manner, pretending not to see or hear him. But then he approached her and asked her a question, “Excuse me miss, I think you dropped this…” Jane looked at him expressionless, pointed to her headphones then turned her head away. “Miss! Ma’am!” he persisted, “Yo! Lady! I’m not trying to interrupt your run but I found a key right over there and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t yours before I turned it in.” Jane felt her pocket for her key. It wasn’t there. She looked up at the man, flustered, “Um, yeah, I think that’s mine.” She slowed and then hopped of the treadmill, reached over and took her key from his palm and walked towards the exit. “You’re welcome!” he called behind her. “Thanks,” she mumbled without turning her back as she walked out the door, breaking into a run as soon as she was clear of his line of site.

Jane arrived home 15 minutes ahead of schedule. She showered, dried her hair, and dressed 15 minutes ahead of schedule. She ate her breakfast, watched the morning news, washed her dishes, and left for work 15 minutes ahead of schedule. There was no traffic. Jane arrived to work at 7:40am. As Jane walked in the security guard looked up in surprise, he had the vague feeling he’d seen her before, but couldn’t quite place her. She was dressed head to toe in beige, but her clothes were well tailored and classically stylish. She was plain, he thought, but pretty.

Jane badged herself in, walked to her desk, sat down and started up her computer. It was about that time that Jane realized she didn’t know what to do next. For the first time in Jane’s life, she had deviated from her schedule. She sat there, sitting still in her chair until promptly 8am, upon which she thankfully resumed her schedule.

Karen the Zombie

With Halloween coming up, and The Walking Dead returning (although I’ve actually never watched it, too scared) I thought I’d take a little break from Plain Jane (she’ll be back next week), and that a zombie story would be appropriate. Enjoy…

-Shan

Karen shook herself out of her daze and struggled to get up. She had taken a shot to the chest from a shotgun at almost point-blank range. “That stupid fucker,” she thought to herself.  As she hoisted herself up off the pavement she saw that her two daughters had taken care of the redneck asshole who had shot her.  Her youngest was slyly gnawing on a finger she had torn off, but the oldest was patiently waiting.  Isabella was like that, always so obedient and polite.

“Go ahead babies,” Karen told her daughters. They exchanged grins and dug into their meal. The redneck asshole, who wasn’t completely dead yet, started screaming in pain. Usually Karen would finish their prey off before digging in (she saw no need for them to suffer), but this guy had nearly killed her, which would have left her two babies orphaned. Pissed off, she figured he could stand to suffer a little. He didn’t look like he had been all that great of a human being anyway – tattoos of swastikas, confederate flags and other racist symbols clearly displaying his overall ignorance dotted what was left of his arms.

She looked around, lifted her nose and took a deep breath in, smelling no signs of other humans, or zombies for that matter. She cocked her head, listening for any sign of either… The redneck asshole abruptly stopped screaming. Olivia was greedily scarfing down the still-beating heart she had just pulled out of his chest. “Olivia,” Karen said in her best Stern Mommy voice, “Share that with your sister.” Olivia frowned, tore a chunk off and half-heartedly handed it to her older sister.  She had been hoping to eat the whole thing herself; the heart was her favorite part.

Karen listened and sniffed the air once more for good measure. The coast appeared to be clear.  She reached down and tore one of his legs off, then sat down to enjoy her meal.

It had been six months since the outbreak.  No one really knew exactly how it started, or how the virus that had affected 70% of the human population turning them into what could best be described as zombies had become airborne, but the first reports had come out of Texas. From there it spread quickly into the surrounding states and Mexico, after that communications and utilities had began to go dark. That is, until the zombie population took them over and brought them back up on-line.

As a human, Karen had actually been what her friends jokingly referred to as “a crazy zombie lady” and had taken measures against a possible zombie outbreak, but she was no match for the virus.  One minute she was fine and dandy, the next, she and her whole family were zombies. But not the kind she had expected.

They could still speak, still feel emotion, and still “function” for all intents and purposes as a human.  With the large exceptions being of course, they were no longer human, and the craving for living flesh. Her senses had become heightened, she was stronger, and they all found that they could move with surprising speed and agility.  Especially her kiddos, they could move lightening quick, and combined with their four years of gymnastics training they were incredibly lethal, but Karen had to remind them to be cautious. A shot to the head and they would be done for.

By now most of the zombie population had moved into the cities, which was where the best human hunting still was, plenty of pockets of the unaffected were holed up in them, however Karen still preferred the suburbs. Her friends had tried to convince her to move with them, especially with her husband Bill gone (he had gone hunting two months ago and hadn’t returned) but Karen felt safer in her own home. She also held out hope that Bill would come back.

Karen’s phone rang. She reached into her back pocket to grab it; it was her best friend, Anne. The picture that popped up on the screen was a selfie of the two of them on the beach, margaritas in hand, at their last annual girl’s weekend. How times had changed… “Hey you!” Anne said cheerfully before Karen even said a word, “Just calling to check in on you and the girls!” “We’re just finishing dinner,” Karen replied. “Remember that hermit-y neo nazi who lived on Shadywood?” “Oh, he was such an asshole! How’s he taste?” Anne asked as if Karen and the kids had just tried a new restaurant.  “Good. He took care of himself, that’s for sure. Hardly any fat on him. I took a shot from him, he ruined one of my favorite shirts, that f-u-c-k-e-r (she spelled it out since her kids were close by). The girls finished him off, though.” Karen laughed like getting shot was no big deal. There was silence on the other end of the line for a moment before Anne spoke. “Kar, I really wish you would move to the city with us, we got a great apartment with a view of Town Lake, the girls would love it. It has plenty of room for you guys and a pool and everything. At the very least you should come visit for a while – you could take a break from eating so many house pets…” Anne trailed off, trying to make a joke of her own (she did have a point, the remaining house pets were the most abundant food source in the suburbs). “I’ll think about it, OK,” Karen said, hoping she sounded somewhat convincing. “Look, I gotta go, it’s getting late and the girls need baths, they’re a mess. I’ll call you later, give my love to Fred and the boys.” They hung up, and Karen munched on the last bits of flesh still hanging from the bone before breaking it open to suck out the marrow. She turned and looked at her two little girls, who were doing the same with what remained of the redneck asshole. That shot had been too close, she thought with a shudder.  She had been careless…

“Mommy,” said Olivia, breaking Karen’s train of thought, “can we have dessert tonight?” Karen looked around, sniffed the air and listened.  Her girls did the same.  Isabella spoke up, “I smell a cat. Can we go after it? Please, Mom?” Karen smiled and gave in. “One cat. But then it’s home, baths and bed, got it? And be careful!” “Yay!” the girls shouted in unison and took off running in the direction the smell had come from.  Karen smiled to herself, feeling proud of her two littles, they were such good girls… “If only Bill were here to see them,” she thought to herself.

She took one last look at the carcass beside her, looking to see if the girls had left anything tasty behind. Something caught her eye then, something shiny, glinting in the light of the setting sun.  It was a ring. It must have fallen off when Olivia tore the redneck asshole’s finger off… She picked it up and with dawning horror realized, it was Bill’s. His wedding ring.

She heard the girls returning and quickly wiped away the tears that had started to fall down her face. “We saved you some, Mom!” Isabella called out. “Yeah,” said Olivia proudly, “Bella wanted to eat it all but I told her we should share.” “That’s very sweet of you, girls,” said Karen, quickly pocketing the ring. Isabella eyed her mother carefully. “Is everything OK, Mom?” “Yeah baby, everything is fine.” Karen mustered a smile and grabbed their little hands in her own. “Come on my little ladies, time to get home.”

Plain Jane – Part Two

Every morning Jane woke precisely at 6am. She needed no alarm clock, since the age of five she had risen at 6am and her body was now programmed to wake without any aid. She would wash her face, brush her teeth, feed the cat (in that exact order) and then dress to go run.  Jane ran on the sole treadmill located in her apartment complex’s small fitness center, always for exactly 30 minutes. On the rare occasions another person was in the fitness center, Jane would put on her headphones and pretend to listen to music, although in actuality none played (Jane did not listen to music). Never had she encountered another person on the treadmill.

Upon completing her run she would return to her apartment, shower, dry her hair, dress, fix herself breakfast (which was always plain oatmeal, with a small glass of orange juice to drink), sit in the single chair at her small table and watch the morning news on her tiny portable television that was placed on the kitchen counter. This was the only time she would watch TV, Jane had no need for sitcoms and reality television. She just found them confusing. After eating she would wash out her spoon, bowl and glass, dry them, and place them back in the cabinet. Her kitchen cabinets held very little, in fact, she had one fork, one knife, one spoon, one bowl, one plate, one small glass and one slightly larger glass which she used to drink water. Jane drank mostly water. The only time she drank something other than water was her breakfast-time orange juice. By then it was off to work, which took 20 – 30 minutes depending on traffic. The traffic report was the main reason why Jane would watch the morning news. Jane always preferred to drive the exact speed limit.

Her weekends were essentially the same. On Saturdays, in place of work, she cleaned her apartment, every nook and cranny. Not one speck of dust escaped Jane’s careful eye.  To keep Whiskey’s shedding to a minimum, Jane would bathe him, and then carefully brush him dry to catch any nascent shedding hairs the bath didn’t take care of. Whiskey loathed the bath, but luxuriated in the brushing that would take place after. He would strut around the small apartment after Jane was done, stretching and finding sunny spots to lay in that would best show off his shiny, golden coat.

On Sundays Jane would do all of her laundry (which was more than one would think). Jane had seven running outfits, seven sports bras, seven regular outfits (all various shades of beige), seven regular bras, and sixteen pairs of underwear, eight rundies (running undies), and eight to wear under her regular clothes. Although she never wore the eighth pair of either, she found solace in owning an extra. After her laundry was put away she would grocery shop, eat lunch, visit her Aunt, and then spend the rest of her afternoon perusing her favorite used bookstores for new reads. Her evenings were always spent reading in her small armchair, wrapped up in her beige blanket, with Whiskey on her lap.

Jane lived in a world of one, a world in which she was perfectly content.

Plain Jane – Part One

I’m trying something new here today and sharing a little something that I’ve been working on. Hope you like it…

-Shan

Jane was the type of girl who after meeting her, you would have a hard time recalling what she looked like. She wasn’t unpleasant to look at, in fact one might even call her delicate features pretty, but she didn’t flaunt her looks. She dressed conservatively, wore no makeup and her straight brunette hair was always brushed back and held out of her green eyes with a thin headband. At social gatherings she usually faded into the background and became invisible, that’s if the host or hostess had remembered to invite her at all, or if Jane attended at all (she rarely attended, and rarely did anyone notice).  At work she always arrived promptly at 8am, and left promptly at 5pm. She kept her desk tidy and sparsely decorated. In fact, the only sign that anyone worked in the space was a small potted plant placed next to the phone, and her beige sweater hanging on the back of her chair as she had a tendency to get cold. Her work was always satisfactory, never falling below expectations, but never exceeding them either. One of her superiors once gave her the feedback on her performance appraisal that he would like to see her “step out of her comfort zone” and “take on new challenges”. In the comments section she wrote, “I fail to see how this has bearing on my current work performance, I either meet expectations or do not.” Her supervisor, realizing that Jane was not the type to ever stretch her wings so to speak, decided that Jane was one of those rare individuals who are completely at ease in the role they are in, and actually took comfort in the fact that what he had on his hands was a dependable, plain, Jane.

Jane’s small studio apartment was always clean, furnished with exactly enough furniture for one, all of which was some shade of white or beige. Like her desk at work, there were only a few signs that her apartment was actually lived in. In one corner, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf was crammed with books, mostly paperback fiction, their spines creased, revealing the wear and tear of multiple reads. Next to the bookshelf was a small armchair, over the back was draped a beige blanket. An almost permanent fixture on the chair was Whiskey, Jane’s cat, named not for any preference for the libation (Jane didn’t drink), but for his deep orangey-gold color (the cat was one of the few colorful items in the apartment). In the bathroom, her toothbrush and toothpaste were placed neatly next to the sink.

At the age of 32, Jane had never been in a relationship, had never been kissed, and had never had sex. She had no friends or social acquaintances outside of work (if you could call her coworkers acquaintances), although she did have one Aunt she was close to, who she visited at the retirement center every Sunday from 1-3pm. Looking at her, one might think that she was the kind of person who had let life pass her by, either on accident or on purpose.

The fact that she had no friends or romantic partners did not bother Jane. In fact, she quite preferred it that way. People were conundrums to Jane, and she chose to avoid them whenever possible.