Sunday Driving


Lilly lives in a broken-down hippie bus in the middle of an uncharacteristic inner-city lot.  She's never been much of a traveler.  In her mind, the story is that her mother ran away when she was thirteen-years old.  She never saw her father that much, either, and her only other family member is a brother who's dead and can't be bothered.  And, she'll never make enough money to ever pull herself out of the slump she's in.

****

Shortly before Sunday sunrise, Lilly quivers and turns over, her ratty calico Patches is purring, and it's fucking cold outside.
      Lilly dreams anonymously, and Patches, well, she's catnapping of better times.

****

Lilly packs anything of value into her reclaimed backpack.  Reclaimed is the way she sees it when she scavenges through Young's back alley trash bin and makes a find.  Today's find is a cell phone slimed with what looks and tastes like day-old Kung Pao sauce.  It has thirty-eight calling minutes left.  Lilly tucks it away for safekeeping.  Mr.  Young tells them to skedaddle, and Lilly drags Patches through an adjacent field, and mentions, "It's best we go this way.  No dogs."  Patches foregoes responding.  She's too busy doing whatever it takes to keep up with Lilly's manic pace; not really digging the bootlace leash she's on anyway.
      Finally, the hippie bus is in sight.
      A windswept bohemian woman is peering through the curtain-drawn windows.  She's holding an unlit cigarette in one hand, and the other is rustling her short-cropped grayish hair.  She's as white as a ghost.  Harrowing, Lilly murmurs to Patches.  Patches makes an indolent motion with her head, and meows her concurrence.
      Lilly introduces herself as the vehicle's owner, and suddenly the woman begins whimpering, dry heaving next to where Lilly stores her extra stuff.  Stuff she's reclaimed but hasn't found a place for.
      The woman straightens up.  "Sorry about—," she retches and mops her mouth with her cottony hem.  "I came here to find my daughter and tell her I'm sorry."
      Lilly's expression is none other than flabbergasted, and then out of nowhere, her spindly hands shoot into the air and flutter like a pair of startled birds.
      "Never seen one."  Lilly's dispassionate.  She's not sure what to make of this.  "So, I wouldn't know what a daughter would look like if one hit me square in the face."
      Patches moves forward and rubs against the loitering woman, her tail curling around her nyloned calf.  She purrs her standard greeting.  Lilly tugs on the bootlace to come on.  Like where are they gonna go.
      "Honey, please don't be so harsh.  Your dad . . . your brother . . . did the same thing with me.  Jerked me around, until . . . well you see what happened.  They left and never came back."
      Mom, Dad died of lung cancer and David was killed in a circus accident, Lilly scolds mutely.
      Patches, genteel about the whole thing, sashays towards the open panel door of the hippie bus, crouches and leaps in.

****

Lilly fumbles through her backpack and retrieves the reclaimed cell phone.  She dials 911 and informs the rhetorical person on the other end that there's a crazy woman blocking the entrance to her hippie bus and would they please come by and get her.  She wants them to make her disappear.
      The woman, showing good faith, reaches into her lilac blouse, and when her hand reappears it's clutching something sweat-stained and crumpled.
      "Look what I got, Lilly."  She tugs it straight and holds it up to the sun.  "It's a winning lottery ticket, and it's all yours for the taking."

****

Neither the police nor any other authority ever shows up, so Lilly, with nothing other to do—because she still doesn't have a decent job and no particular residence, besides this vacant lot—asks the woman claiming to be her mother if she'd like to go for a Sunday drive.  That sounds fine says the mother-pretender-to-be, securing the winning ticket back in place.  She climbs in, and as soon as she's settled Patches bounds onto her lap and they ride off to someplace unknown, all three happy as a lark because none has a clue where in the hell they're headed.  It's more that they're together, and more than anything else, that's what makes them smile so.
      Lilly crashes the old gearshift into first, says, "Buckle-up.  We're going for a ride."  As the resurrected hippie bus struggles free, she hands her mother the cell phone.  "Mom, here.  Call anyone you'd like.  I've got loads of free minutes."  
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