Keep On Truckin’
(sequel to IMYOR62)
Yvette looked up at the towering semi truck uncertainly. The motherly smile stretched across her large fender as she looked down at the baby was comforting, even encouraging. Still, the Corvette felt obligated to ask, “Are you sure he won’t be any trouble? He may be little, but he’s a bundle of energy.”
As if to back his mother’s claim, Benji took off suddenly after a fat red beetle. He squealed happily as he chased it in circles. Then, as suddenly as he had accelerated, he braked when the bug changed course. This sent him tumbling hood over wheels. He rolled once and landed upright, blinking in confusion.
“Bah?” he chirped, looking around for the bug.
Midge chuckled. “I think I can handle him. Mack was pretty high-spirited for a semi baby, but I managed. Of course, that was over thirty years ago, and I’m not nearly as young as I used to be…”
“Aw, heck!” Gaspar cut in. “You coulda fooled me the other night. Why, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you haven’t aged a day since our wedding night, you feisty little -”
“Ahem!” Midge gave him a warning look. Gaspar dutifully shut his mouth, but didn’t bother to wipe the grin from his face. Yvette blushed and giggled.
“Well, okay,” she said. “But about that other thing I mentioned…” Midge looked down at her questioningly. “About him being little,” the car clarified. She blushed again, gazing down her hood as she shuffled a front tire in the dirt.
It took a moment for Midge to understand what she was getting at. “Oh! Oh, you have nothing to worry about, dear,” she assured her. “I’ll even keep my emergency brake on, just in case. Gaspar may not be light on his tires, so I guess it’s a good thing he’s going to a stag party instead of hanging around at home helping me babysit.” She gave her husband a smirk. “Ford knows he ran over Mack enough times when he was little.”
Oblivious to her criticism, Gaspar’s attention was focused on Benji. The tiny hatchback was clinging tightly to the semi’s massive tire, which Gaspar lifted up off the ground and rotated slowly. Benji giggled as he was rocked back and forth and even suspended upside down. Sensing his wife’s eyes on him, Gaspar looked up.
“What? I ain’t hurtin’ ‘im. See?” He turned and held his tire out for both women to see clearly. “Boy’s havin’ fun. Aren’t ya, Benj?”
Gaspar kept rotating his tire while the little boy crawled along on it like a hamster running on the outside of its exercise wheel. Midge and Yvette both smiled at the sight.
“Well, I suppose it would be good practice for him,” Midge mused. “Won’t be long before we’ve got a grandchild to deal with, and given Vee’s size it’ll most likely be pretty small. Well, compared to a full-blooded semi baby it will be. At least for her sake I hope it’s small. Otherwise she’s going to have problems.”
Midge sighed and shook her hood, flashing Yvette a fond smile. “Listen to me go on and on like I’m the one who’s expecting!” she chuckled. “I guess that’s what it’s like becoming a grandmother; like being a mother all over again.”
Yvette chuckled too. “I’ve got a long way to go before I ever become one, but I gotta admit I’m pretty excited for Veronica. I was so scared at first when I found out I was pregnant, but she was such a good friend to me back at Ford’s,” here she blushed and bit her lip, “I just feel like she’s a sister to me, and I’m about to become an aunt for the first time.”
“Do you have any nieces or nephews?” asked Midge.
Yvette shook her hood. “None that I know of. I’ve got two brothers in California; one I haven’t seen in a couple years and one still in L.A.. It’s possible, though. You know how men are.”
Midge chuckled. “Only too well.” She glanced over at Gaspar, who was standing quite rigidly now with an odd look on his face. “Something wrong, hun?”
Yvette looked over at him too. “Where’s Benji?”
“Right under my drive shaft,” Gaspar answered quietly, through gritted teeth. The look on his face was a priceless mixture of tension and queasiness.
Midge smirked. “Well then, just inch toward the left very slowly -”
“Not that drive shaft, dear!”
Midge widened her eyes in surprise, then rolled them. “And let me guess: you’re not even wearing a skid plate, are you?”
He didn’t answer her. He didn’t have to. Yvette’s loud gasp and hot pink hood as she pulled Benji out from under the big truck said it all.
If Gaspar knew the meaning of shame, it obviously didn’t apply to this particular situation. In stark contrast to the flustered Corvette he was sniggering like a teenage boy over his first crank call.
Benji tried to dart back under him, but Yvette held him back. “No no, sweetie. That’s not a good place.” She chanced a quick glance upwards, and the mischievous sparkle in the truck’s brown eyes darkened her hood even more. Midge sighed.
“You’re impossible,” she told him.
Gaspar’s grin widened. “I know,” he answered proudly, driving closer to her. “And that’s what you love about me, right, baby doll?”
Midge pointedly looked away. “Right,” she murmured, feigning bored sarcasm. Not to be put off, Gaspar inched even closer, nuzzling her side as he began to purr what he liked to call ‘sweet nothings’ in her ear, most of which were better off censored in front of present company.
“Don’t you have a stag party to crash?” Midge grumbled, leaning away from him. Gaspar backed off, but not before giving her a kiss on the cheek and a playful smack on the fifth wheel. “SCRAM!” she snapped, spinning around to smack him back across the grille.
Gaspar’s laughter sounded in her ears long after he vanished from sight down the road.
* * *
That evening, the tiny town of Radiator Springs came alive with festivities. Though only about a third of the town’s residents were gathered at Flo’s Café, the place seemed packed. The female portion of the population was already giving the men folk a run for their money, and the sun hadn’t even fully set yet!
Vee’s bachelorette party was small, but what it lacked in size was more than made up for in fun. Flo, Sally, Mia, Tia, Lizzie, Yvette and the bride-to-be parked in a loose circle in the middle of the café lot, drinking margaritas (virgin, in Vee’s case) and gossiping loudly and obnoxiously about their various experiences with men. Especially the Miata twins, who had pretty much seized control of the subject. The more they drank, the louder and more obnoxious they got, until finally Sheriff gave up warning them about "public drunkenness and indecency."
Vee, the one car who remained sober, said, “Lighten up, Sheriff! At least you can drink. Unlike some of us,” she added with a pout.
Sheriff bristled. “Not while I’m on duty, I can’t!”
“Well then quit coppin’ and start hoppin’!” Flo replied.
“Yeah!” agreed Sally. “You’re working too hard. Why don’t you drive on over to Mack’s party and have a few?”
“And while you’re there, you can keep an eye on a certain Impala for me!” Flo added.
Vee raised a brow at her. “Why? It’s an all-guys party. What do you think’s gonna happen?”
Flo smirked. “Honey, knowing Ramone…” she trailed off, not bothering to finish that sentence. The look she gave Vee said plenty.
“I’d be more worried about Shtickers,” said Sally. The twins snickered at her slur. She eyed the two girls with mock suspicion. “I’ve g - I’ve got my eye on you three!” she declared, jabbing a tire at them. They laughed even louder.
Vee stared at the Porsche in surprise. Sally blinked. “What?”
“Nothing,” Vee replied, though a slight smile curved her lips. “I’ve just never seen you this drunk before.”
Sally chuckled. “Shhhhuuurrre you have.” Then she lowered her voice. “I just like to pretend I’m plastered sometimes. You know, you get away with a lot more if people think you’re really wasted.” She gave Vee a wink and Vee chuckled too.
“I don’t even have to bother pretending with Mack,” she divulged, winking back. “For such a big guy, he’s such a pushover.”
“Huh, what?” Tia chirped, popping up between the two women. “Wussat you were sayin’ ‘bout a big guy?”
Vee smirked. “I was saying that for such a big guy, Mack’s a big pushover.”
“Ooh, is he really?” Mia asked, suddenly appearing beside her sister.
The Chrysler raised a brow as the two girls stared at her eagerly, both blind stinking drunk. “What, a pushover? Well, most of the time he’s -”
“No, not that!” Mia interrupted. “I mean, is he really big? You know, down - down there?”
Tia gasped and gave her a sharp nudge. “Will you get out of the gutter already?” Despite her reproving tone, she couldn’t help giggling.
Mia nudged her back. “You’re the one who wanted to know!”
The two fell into a very uncoordinated shoving match, riddled with childish insults and girly giggles. Vee rolled her eyes and started to drive away, when one of them spoke up.
“Wait! Tell Tia how big he is! She’s dying to know!”
“Shut up!” Tia snapped. “Chrysler, you’re so pathetic! Just admit you’re the one who wants to know!”
“Tell her! Tell her! Tell her!” Mia chanted, bouncing on her axles.
Vee turned around, smirking at the two girls, who both fell silent. They resumed their wide-eyed stares and barely-concealed grins as they awaited her answer.
“Mack’s a semi truck,” she said flatly, as though she were stating a cold, hard fact. “Semis are three times bigger than most cars. Now you do the math and you tell me.”
Both Mia and Tia blinked in drunken confusion. Then slowly they turned to look at each other. It took several seconds of silent questioning and even more blinking before both girls erupted in giggles. Vee rolled her eyes again and drove away. Behind her she could clearly hear them discussing the benefits of hanging out at truck stops more often.
She parked in front of Yvette who, throughout most of the evening, had remained somewhat distant from the festivities. Vee knew the young woman to be shy, but she’d assumed a few drinks would have taken care of that by now.
“What’s up?” she asked, taking note of Yvette’s fourth (or was it fifth?) mudslide, sitting half-finished beside her. Vee gave her a puzzled look. “I thought for sure you’d at least be a little tipsy by now.”
Yvette smiled and shook her hood. “I can’t drink.”
“Why not? Oh jeez, you’re not pregnant too, are you?”
Yvette chuckled. “Oh, no. I’m still nursing Benji, so I can’t have any liquor till he’s weaned.”
Vee frowned. “Really? How long does that take?”
Yvette shrugged. “Some suggest one year, some two. He doesn’t do it as much as he used to, so for now I’m just waiting to see when he’s ready.” At the look of surprise on her friend’s face, she smiled. “Don’t worry. It’s not as bad as it sounds. And of course you don’t have to nurse. There’s always formula, although your own natural milk is better.”
Vee made a slightly disgusted face that roused a laugh from Yvette. “Motherhood is sounding more appealing all the time,” she said wryly, then turned away to address Flo, who was standing behind her.
“Hey Flo, how come you don’t have any kids?” The words were out of her mouth before she’d had time to think them through. Vee bit her lip hard, praying she hadn’t offended her friend.
But to her surprise, Flo was smiling, albeit somewhat sadly. “Oh, well… it’s so complicated, I’m not sure I even understand it, but… for the longest time Ramone and I couldn’t even decide if we wanted a family or not. And with all the orphaned children in this over-populated world, well, we didn’t think it would be right bringing another baby into it. Not when so many others needed love.”
Flo sighed and sipped at her champagne. “So we started saving up so we could adopt, or at least have enough to take care of things if I did get pregnant. But neither one happened.”
There was a distance in her eyes and voice that made Vee sympathize with her. “Oh. Um, I’m sorry to hear that. I bet you’d have made great parents, though. You and Ramone both.”
Again to her surprise, Flo smiled. Even more, she was giggling like a school girl.
“You haven’t been told?” she asked Vee, who blinked in confusion.
Flo was glowing by now. “Oh Ford! You been with us how long, and you still don’t know?”
“Know what?” Vee frowned.
“Honey, we do have a family! And I don’t just mean everyone here in town. I’m talking about a child.”
Vee smirked. “Okay, I’m officially lost. Could you please explain what you mean before you get any drunker?”
Flo laughed and set her drink aside. “Okay, okay.” She took a few calming breaths, then tried again. “Well, you know Red, right?”
Vee nodded slowly. “Yeeesss, but don’t you even try to tell me he came out of you!”
The show car couldn’t help laughing again. “Oh, of course not! No no. You see, Red’s an orphan. And supposedly Lizzie’s great grandson, though nobody knows for sure.” Here she suddenly became sober and serious.
“See, Lizzie had a grandson who got sent off to fight in the Korean War. A few months after he left, she found a little baby fire truck on her porch. Still had his umbilical cord attached. All he had on him was a blanket and a note from someone claiming to be the mother and naming Lizzie’s grandson as the father.
“Well, right away she tried contacting him to find out if it was true. After several inquiries on his whereabouts, one day she got a letter telling her he’d been killed in action. Poor Lizzie never saw her grandson again, and she never found out if Red was really his or not. But it didn’t matter. By the time she got the news, she’d already fallen in love with the little guy. We all had.”
Flo’s smile returned. “And you know what? Ramone and I helped her raise that boy like he was our own. So to answer your question: yes. We do have a kid, actually.”
Vee stared at Flo in surprise for a long moment, then mirrored her smile. “Wow. I had no idea. I mean, I’ve always noticed how sweet you are to Red, but Ramone -”
Flo chuckled. “Oh, I know, he treats Red more like a little brother than a son, but I think that’s because Lizzie tends to treat everyone around here like they’re her grandkids or something. That and he thinks he’s gotta be Mister Macho all the time. But no matter what Ramone tells you, he’s really just a great big softy at heart. You just wait till your little bundle of joy comes along. He’ll be all over your baby like a mother hen.”
Vee laughed. “Now I really can’t wait to give birth!” After taking a moment to herself to think about what Flo had told her, she sought out Sally and asked her the same thing: “How come you and Lightning don’t have any kids yet?”
Sally shrugged and sipped her drink. “We’re waiting,” was her simple answer.
All three women had given Vee a lot to think about.
Chapter Eleven: [link]