The Werks


by Christina Donovan

"Hurry and shut the door, Nikki. The seat's getting wet!"

Nikki tossed her dripping umbrella on the back seat. "Thanks for the ride, Abby. It's really pouring."

"It's like that joke--a man asks a boy, doesn't it ever stop raining here? The boy says, I don't know, I'm only twelve."

Nikki lowered the visor mirror to wipe her running mascara.

"What did the Seattle man say to the Pillsbury Doughboy? Nice tan!"

"Please tell me you've got something besides used jokes today, Abs."

"I'm trying something new."   

"Ten Days to a Better Memory? Forty-Eight Hours to a Cleaner Colon?"

"No. A new outlook. I've decided there's enough negativity in the world today, Nikki, and I want to be different."

"Christ, you do sound like a self-help book."

"Well, I sure don't want to become a cranky old lady, chewing out the Wal-Mart clerk over the price of Metamucil."

"You know what they say, Abs. Middle age--that means you--is when a broad mind and a narrow waist begin to change places."

 "Yes--your birthday card--it hurt because it's true," Abby said, grabbing the roll above her waistband.

 "You haven't gained that much weight."

"That much?! Wait--sorry. Thank you for being honest," Abby said, patting Nikki's leg.

 "This no-negativity stuff is going to turn you into a..."

"A nice person?"

"No, a cloying sap. LOOK OUT! PEDESTRIAN!!"

Abby slammed the brakes. "Where?"

"There wasn't one."

"You could have caused a rear-ender!"

"Yea, but worth it if I could hear you swear like the sailor I know you are."

"I told you, I've turned a new leaf. I'm nicer, more giving, more caring."

"Bullshit, bullshit, and yes, more bullshit. Why are you driving Ron's car, anyway?  

"Ron took my car to the shop. He said I needed new brakes."

"I saw him on my way back from my meeting, in your car, racing up Boren Avenue. Figured he had to go somewhere important--he passed our cab pretty fast."

"So, he was headed toward the Medical Center, then. Thank you for the information."

"Sounds like he had a change of plans, huh?" Nikki tilted the visor mirror to watch Abby.

"I trust him."

"Who said anything about trust? I just said he was speeding up Boren."

 "Ron used to see someone there--a nurse's aide."

"For the flu or something?"

"Definitely not the flu," Abby said, breathing loudly through her nose. "It wasn't medical. What time did you see him?"

Nikki looked at her watch. "About an hour ago."

Abby u-turned the car sharply from the far right lane. Nikki grabbed the arm rest. "The light's red! Where are we going?"

 "To the Medical Center. It's where Ron had his tennis-elbow surgery...and the nurse's aide. I just want to see if he's there."

Blue and red lights flashed in the visor mirror. "A cop. Must've seen your turn."

"It's fine," said Abby. "I deserve a ticket." She stopped the car and offered her driver's license as the officer bent toward the window.

 "Do you know why I stopped you, M'am?"

"Yes, Sir. I believe I made an illegal u-turn."

Nikki leaned across Abby and looked out the window at the policeman. "Officer--my sister here, she's a little bent in the brain at the moment. Can you let her off? I won't let her break any more laws."

"Please sit back. Yes, you did make an illegal turn...why?"

"I just heard my husband went to the Medical Center, possibly to see a girlfriend, with whom I believed he was finished. But, it's fine, Officer.  It's all part of life."

The officer shook his head. "Normally, I'd give you a ticket but I know how you're feeling. I had a problem like that with my wife --and the brake man."

"What did you say?" Abby asked.

"Otto, the brake man--at German Car Werks."

"That's where my husband was taking my car today to get new brakes."

"M'am, hang tight." The policeman pulled out his cell phone. "Is Otto there? Well, where is he? The rest of the day? OK, thanks." He holstered his cell. "Lady, I'm not going to give you a ticket, but I am going to check up on my wife."

"Best of luck, Officer. I wish you happiness and..." Abby said, watching the officer run back to his car.

"This day is turning out kind of trippy, Abs."

Abby passed the main entrance and pulled slowly into the employee parking lot. "There are picnic tables back here."

"But it's raining...hell-o?" Nikki said, tapping on the windshield.

"That's where they go. I've followed him before."

"Followed him? Jeez, Abs! Look--there's your VDub."

"There's somebody in it."

"There are two somebodies in it. What are you going to do?

"I just want to talk to him." Abby parked behind the VW. "This is the new me, remember?"

"Oh, I definitely remember. I was with you when you threw Ron's BMW keys, wrapped up in his jock strap, off the Aurora Bridge. A jingling, smelly suicide. Uh oh."

From the grass, a very large man with a big red beard and a crowbar approached the Volkswagen.

"That's Otto!"

"What's he doing here, Abby? Don't get out of the car!"

"Of course I'm going to get out."

"Is that the aide? With the fake blonde hair? I can't believe he finds that attractive...Abby, come back!"  Nikki watched as Abby strode toward the Volkswagen, slightly over-swinging one relaxed arm as she pulled up the hood of her rain jacket with the other.

"Crud. Lights...."  The policeman walked past Nikki's side of the car. "Hi, again Officer. What are you doing here?"

"I decided I'd better  keep an eye on you two."

"Good idea! I think that's Otto talking to Abby's husband, Ron, and Abby's on the other side talking to that woman."

"Yes, that's Otto. And 'that woman' is Suzie, my wife," said the officer, quickly walking to the car.

"Holy shit. I'm coming with you."

"No, you should stay in the car," he shouted back.

"Like hell!" Nikki followed the officer toward the driver's side of the VW.

 "Abby, step away from the vehicle and come here beside me. Otto, drop the crowbar. That's a good man." The officer waved Abby toward him. "Come on, Abby. That's a good girl."  As Abby came alongside, the officer put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed. "And you must be Ron? Yes? OK, you stay seated. Abby and Otto,  don't you move, now, while I see who else is in the car. Everybody stay calm. I don't want to start arresting people."

Abby rocked back and forth on her heels, with her arms clasped behind her back. She started to smile...really smile. "Hi Ron."

"Hi Abby. What's so funny?"

"Oh, Ron..." Abby started to laugh.  

"What?"

"You're with, ha, I can hardly say it--your little blonde friend is..." Abby covered her mouth and nose with her hands to muffle her snorts. "...she's the Officer's wife and Otto's--big Otto, that is--ha--Otto's girlfriend!"

"What?"

"Yes. It's very funny, don't you think?"

"Is that true, Suzie? You're married...and you're cheating with Otto? And me? Hey officer, let go of her hair!" Ron reached over and grabbed Suzie's arm, pulling her onto the seat of the car, while the officer tugged her hair in the opposite direction.

"Oh, and Ron?"

"What!!!" Ron shouted over his shoulder, turning his head to look back at Abby. "Crap! Otto, put down that crowbar! Not the windshield!

"I was just going to say, have a great d..!"  The sound of the smashing windshield drowned out the word.  A second blue-and-white car pulled into the parking lot, lights flashing.

"Looks like backup is here. I'm going to leave you all to sort this out." Abby locked arms with Nikki and they headed back toward her car. "I just thought of another joke."

"Ron?"

"You guessed! And look, Nikki, the sun's coming out! Fabulous!"




BIO: Christina Donovan (MS, U of Arizona) spends her days as a work-a-holic for a Silicon Valley technology firm. Late nights and weekends, she transforms into a write-a-holic in her home near Yosemite National Park, California, where she invested more than two years of research before beginning her nearly complete historical novel set in late 18th century Italy and Ireland. She recently placed second in a competition with her short story, "Flying Rhinoceros."