I threw some effort at the Web and conjured a television producer, one Mary Salt hell-bound on hiring an assistant, because, as she said, she was ‘desperate’. She needed someone ‘Pronto’, no skills required. Show up at 12 tomorrow. A call to a pal with a guest room and I was good to go. I could scarcely believe how easy this all was. I couldn’t restrain a pitying laugh when I thought of my former college-mates, clustered solemnly around the fount of knowledge, wasting time on theory when they could be out here in the world of practice.
The route from the beach to the middle of Manhattan is on average three hours. Reflexively I set up cruise control, reclined my seat and zoned out. My plan was to work only long enough to earn the funds to abscond and traipse the globe, until I turned twenty-five and received my inheritance. This tantalizing inheritance was a known quantity, but being as the relatives were Brits details were never discussed.
I was minding my own business in the center lane when I was startled by a blast. I snapped to attention to see something swirling rushing at me; it looked like a seal. Weirdly, it disappeared from sight. I searched in my rearview mirror but I could see no trace.
Up ahead a long haul truck switched on a stadium’s worth of warning lights, flaring and flashing. A second explosion went off, and another seal flipped through the air.
Tires were disengaging from the truck’s axle; bouncing haphazardly. A quick check of the flow of traffic and I dodged into the right lane. Vaguely I wondered what would happen to a car if it was to run over one of those tires.
My musings were interrupted by a man in a van. He had sidled up with a stricken look on his face. He was blaring his horn and pointing fingers at me. Oh go away, I thought and checked my watch, I’m on a schedule.
Next, a bus crammed with nuns in full black and white regalia slowed beside me and all of them were gesticulating, their faces vibrant with alarm.
What the hell? I negotiated to the shoulder of the highway, and parked.
I exited and met with a bad smell. I disregarded it, waving it off as a product of mid-Island over-population and took a look at my car. I could see nothing wrong. I walked around the back. Again, perfection, unless you count the crease in the bumper; a tree and a bad parking job. I was on the verge of concluding my inspection when I noticed an odd shape protruding from beneath the car, like a shark fin. I crouched to see most of a monster truck tire applied unevenly to the undercarriage of my automobile. A waft of stink stung my eyes, singed my nose. The tire was not on fire, but it was cooking up a nasty stench.
I tugged on it and it moved a fraction. I tugged some more, and it moved some more. It was slow going. Eventually, I was back on the road. I felt disgusting with sweat and a flushed hot face. It was less immediate that I noticed my hands were stained with sticky tar and much of it was already tie-dye-patterned down my blouse and my skirt. I was a wreck. I didn’t even know how bad I was until compared to the spotless hi-tech sleek environs of the futuristic television executive offices.
Mahogany table, leather arm chairs, floor to ceiling plate glass windows with views of the stratosphere, and myself in Nascar-casual Friday pit-crew attire.
The double doors blasted open and in barreled a tiny dark haired lady. “Name’s Mary Salt. Call me Mary,” she said, spraying saliva. Stick thin, wobbling on six inch wedge shoes Mary was sporting a remarkable metal contraption on her head. Like a halo made of aerials it contoured her skull and entered her mouth like a horse bit.
TO BE CONTINUED