Keep On Truckin
(sequel to IMYOR62)
Whatever you do, DONT miss the turnoff! Ya got that?
Yeah, yeah. Cool your pistons, Chicky. I know where Im going.
A curvaceous Mercedes Benz ascended the off ramp, exiting I-40. She switched to high beams now, scanning the dark desert for road signs.
You see it yet? asked a mans impatient voice over her cell phones headset. Youre gonna miss it if you dont -
Relax. I hit the turnoff a mile back, the woman replied airily. She glanced back in her mirror and scowled. Great.
That van thats been riding my ass for the last twenty miles is still following me.
Dont worry, babe. Ol Thunders got your back.
The woman smirked. Thats comforting to know. Whatre you gonna do, cuss him out all the way from L.A. if he gets too close? She continued driving for another minute or two, checking her mirrors constantly for the white van. She sped up, putting distance between herself and her would-be follower.
You remember what youre looking for?
A big red truck, she answered boredly, for the umpteenth time. Brains do come with the body, you know. For an added fee.
It wasnt long before her headlights illuminated a very old and weathered sign bearing the words Route 66. She braked at the intersection.
Found Sixty-six. Now is it a left or a right?
Jeez, dont they have any signs out there? The man sounded exasperated. I thought McQueen put that little oil stain of a town back on the map! Hold on, lemme check. Silence fell as the Mercedes idled by the stop sign, waiting for further directions.
Okay, its left. Take a left on Sixty-six, and its about three miles down the road. You got that? No reply. Darla? Answer me!
But Darlas attention had turned to the mysterious vehicle that had finally caught up with her. It was a stocky Dodge street van sporting Roto-Rooter logos on its sides. It pulled up beside her, looking her over with a lusty eye.
Heya, it greeted her, in an obvious male voice. Whats a pretty lil thing like you doing way out here in the middle of Nowheresville?
Who the hell is that? demanded Chick, on the other end of the line.
Darla was about to answer both men with an unfavorable expletive when a third voice caught her by surprise.
Excuse me, maam, are you lost?
She jumped and looked around. It took her a moment to notice the older model patrol car standing just beyond the range of her headlights. Sheriff drove forward.
Plastering a smile on her face, Darla shook her hood. Thanks for your concern, officer, but Im good. The emphasis she put on the word officer went unnoticed by Sheriff and the van, but not by Chick. She heard a curse and a soft click as he hung up. I was just checking my GPS for directions to Radiator Springs.
Well, youre in luck, Sheriff replied, smiling. Radiator Springs is just a couple miles down that way. He gestured down the road with a tire. Id be glad to show you the way.
Darlas smile nearly failed, but she kept it in place. Oh, that wont be necessary. Im sure I can manage, she purred.
Im sure you can too, Sheriff agreed, but you know, I wouldnt feel right leaving a nice-lookin young woman like you out here all alone at night. If somethin were to happen
he trailed off, glancing past her to give the van a suspicious look. He with you?
The woman cast the van a sideways glance as well. The van grinned and wiggled his brows flirtingly. Darla snorted.
Hell no. Just keep him off my ass and Ill be fine, she said, rolling forward. Now if youll excuse me, gentlemen, Ive got a party to get to. She revved her engine, but held back for a moment to ask Whats the speed limit on this road?
Sixty-five, Sheriff answered, but in town its only -
Darla didnt wait around to hear the rest. With a screeching of tires, she took off like a shot down Route 66, leaving both men staring after her in a cloud of dust. Sheriffs first instinct was to give chase, but when he clocked her at just under the speed limit, he decided to leave her be.
* * *
Vee tried to get a good look at the car that Doc was giving directions to across the street. They were standing between streetlights, so it was very hard to guess at the strangers color. Red, maybe? Seemed a little late for travelers or tourists to be driving through.
After the stranger left, turning right past the courthouse, Vee spotted a second newcomer entering the town limits. This time it was a fat white van, being escorted by Sheriff. The squad car nodded in her direction, then to her surprise the van drove straight toward her.
Well hellooooo ladies, he purred, pulling into the café lot. All of the women now turned to stare at him questioningly. He looked around, eyeing each of them with varying degrees of interest. He had honey-brown eyes and a black grille. The Roto-Rooter logos on his sides indicated that he was a plumber (or at least posing as one).
His gaze came to rest on Vee, and even as he locked eyes with her he asked, Which one of you lucky ladies is the bride-to-be?
Vee didnt need to answer, as everyone else present was doing it for her. It seemed none of them needed bother either, as the man appeared to know exactly who she was.
Looks like this bachelorette party could use some entertainment, he declared.
All of the women present exchanged glances, silently questioning or accusing one another of having some part in this. The twins got the most looks, even though their mirror expressions of surprise (and disgust) said quite plainly that this was not the type of male dancer they would have arranged for.
With a seductive smile that bordered on creepy, the van rolled toward Vee. Marvin Gayes Lets Get It On started playing on his radio as he parked just inches in front of her, rocking rhythmically on his axles and swaying from side to side. For such a portly vehicle his movements looked far more comical than sensual. The sound of unseen tools rattling around in his side compartment only added to the effect.
Vees eyes widened as she stared up at the van. Then she blinked. Robbie? Robbie Dieselman?
He grinned bigger. Tonight, Im Mr. Rooter, he purred, and Im here to fix your plumbing, baby.
Vee stared at him a second longer, then burst out laughing. Oh my Dodge! I cant believe its you! The van started laughing as well as the two old friends embraced. Vee gave him a friendly slug on the fender. You dipstick! Who do you think you are, showing up like this? I thought you werent coming! You never answered my emails.
Ha ha, yeah. I know. I wanted to surprise you.
Well consider yourself successful, Vee murmured, looking him over. So, are you an actual plumber, or is this all the costume store had in stock?
Robbie grinned. Nope. Im a plumber. Was gonna come as a fire truck, until I found out where the hose went.
Vee laughed. Robbie had always managed to make her laugh back in high school. Being the practical joker at every school function, he constantly kept the PTA on their treads. She remembered his antics at the prom in particular with mixed emotions
For one marvelously horrifying split second in time, Vee felt a tingle of warmth where her lips grazed Macks cheek. He moved closer to her, perhaps to return the kiss. But as suddenly as it had happened, the moment was gone, obliterated by an earsplitting crash from the direction of the lane. Jolted back to reality, Mack and Vee pushed their way through the trees.
In seconds the grove was packed, a blaze of headlights from students and staff alike. In the center of the crowd lay five vehicles, all dented and splattered in oil. Though none were seriously injured, all were definitely miffed. The pavement was soaked with oil, but it was all clean, and that could only mean one thing: it hadnt come from a leaky car.
Robert Dieselman! bellowed Mr. Edsel, the geometry teacher and one of the unfortunate victims of the boys prank. On the other side of the pileup a white van cringed. He tried to escape, but slipped on his own oil and collided with a nearby tree. Mack and Vee shared a good laugh with the rest of the crowd.
Sure, it had been a laugh riot, but Vee never completely forgave Robbie for that poorly-timed incident. Afterwards, it had taken both her and Mack many years to come to terms with their feelings for each other, and to reclaim the courage that had nearly seen them through to their first kiss on prom night.
For all the teasing Robbie had done back then, singing out loud in the halls about Vee and Mack parked beneath a tree, (although he would sing that about practically any two vehicles he saw together, even if it was two guys) he had remained clueless to the truth up until the email hed received from Vee inviting him to her wedding.
Everyone, this is Robbie. We went to high school together, Vee introduced him to the crowd. He was in a lot of the same classes as me and Mack.
After exchanging greetings and flirting with each and every woman he met (including Lizzie), Vee noticed him eyeing Yvette with particular interest and asked him if he was seeing anyone.
Oh, yeah. Im seeing a lot of fine-lookin ladies here, he joked and Vee slugged him.
You know what I mean! she chuckled.
Well, I was seeing Mandy on and off since we hooked up at our high school reunion. You remember her, right? But shes moved on, working as a hood stylist now. Guess she thinks a plumber aint good enough for her. Robbie pretended to pout.
Vee smiled. Well, dont sweat it. Youll find that special someone soon enough, Im sure.
Heh, yeah maybe. I guess if a guy like Mack can score a hottie like you, then theres hope for me yet. He cocked a flirty brow at the nearest woman, which happened to be Yvette. The car blushed and looked away. Robbie chuckled. You sure got a lotta cute friends, he said to Vee.
Thanks, but FYI, most of them are either taken or crazy. She said that last word with emphasis as she looked pointedly at Mia, Tia and Lizzie.
Well just tell me which ones which so I can avoid any trouble.
Vee smirked. Wouldnt you rather go to Macks party?
Robbie grinned, still looking around at the women. Not really.
Trust me, you dont wanna hang around here much longer. We were about to play some party games when you came along.
Ooh, sounds like fun!
Vee arched a brow. Does "Pin the Pipe on the Plumber sound fun to you?
Robbie blinked. Well
that depends on where the pipes supposed to go.
Vee smiled impishly. This is a bachelorette party. Ill give you three guesses.
Robbies own smile faltered for a split second, then he laughed. All right, all right. Ill go. Let you ladies get your jollies without me. Been looking forward to giving Mack hell. He started out of the lot, then turned around. Where is the big lug, anyway?
Vee chuckled and drove up beside him. Come on. Ill take you.
* * *
Mack studied his cards, trying to decide if he had a good hand or not. Was a flush higher than a straight, or was it the other way around?
So are you in or not? Lightning asked him.
Huh? Oh yeah. Im definitely in. Mack looked down at his sizeable pile of poker chips. As lousy a card player as hed perceived himself to be, hed won nearly every game so far tonight. Are you guys sure youre not just letting me win? he asked, resisting the urge to peek at anyones hands. At his height he could easily see everyone elses cards.
Naw, man. Youre just a good bluffer, is all, Ramone assured him.
Mack gave him a doubtful look and set his cards down. Flush!
Aw man! moaned Fillmore, clearly beaten. Mack got a glimpse of his hand - a full house! - just before he tossed it facedown on the discard pile. He wondered if the bus had feigned losing on purpose or if he was just too high or drunk to know better.
Gaspar sighed and dropped his cards. Yknow, if I didnt know any better Id say this was a bar mitzvah and not a bachelor party.
Wuh? Fillmore blinked up at him. Bar mitzvahs dont have strippers
My point exactly!
Mack sighed. I told you I didnt want anything like that, Dad. Its my party, you know.
Wull Ahm havin a blast! Mater spoke up. Ya dont need tuh be dirty tuh have uh good time.
Gaspar opened his mouth to argue, but one look from Mack made him close it again.
I beg to differ, said a womans sultry voice, causing every man in the room to turn toward its source simultaneously. A Mercedes Benz had appeared out of nowhere and was now cruising through the lobby of Lightnings racing headquarters. She was light on her tires and careful to avoid the mess of pizza crusts, oily napkins and empty beer bottles scattered about the floor.
The woman was breathtaking, with a pearlescent red paintjob that complemented her striking green eyes, full lips, and voluptuous curves. She looked around at the group of men and smiled. Hmmm, looks like this party is in need of a womans touch, she purred.
Though no one spoke out loud, murmured oohs and revved engines clearly expressed the mens excitement. Mack, however, remained speechless out of shock. He gave his dad an accusing look, but Gaspar shook his hood.
So, which one of you boys is getting hitched? Darla asked, looking back and forth at the two men. She hadnt expected to find two red trucks at this party, let alone semi trucks.
Before anyone else could answer, Mack hastily pointed a tire at Gaspar and then backed away. No one dared correct him. All eyes were on the little Mercedes now. She smiled seductively and rolled forward, just as the first sensual saxophone notes of Kenny G.s Songbird started playing on her radio.
A big boy like you deserves to enjoy his last night as a single man. Dont you think? she asked, batting her lashes at him.
Gaspar nodded vigorously. Thats what I said! But Mack didnt want -
Darla placed a tire to his lips. Sssssshhhhhhhh. Less talk, more
action, she whispered. Her emerald eyes glinted with lust.
* * *
Vee and her entourage arrived at the racing headquarters. The seven women, now joined by Robbie, Midge and little Benji, stood outside the open doors and listened.
Its too quiet in there, Sally remarked. They must be up to something.
I know, agreed Midge. I had to tell them twice to keep it down so Benji could sleep. It didnt help that the garage she shared with Gaspar was right behind the main building.
Well, here goes nothing, said Vee, crossing the threshold. Cmon, Rob.
Inside the lobby, they were met with a shocking sight: all of the men were hooting, whistling and catcalling while Gaspar backed himself up against the far wall, cornered by the same mysterious car Vee had seen earlier. Before anyone could say or do anything, the woman leaned forward and captured Gaspars lips with her own, kissing him passionately.
A blaring semi horn sounded throughout the lobby, creating instant chaos as all of the men scrambled about in panic. Midge was glaring daggers at Gaspar. Frightened by her horn, Benji shrieked and darted to his mother for safety. The Mercedes spun around. Vee and Yvette gasped in unison when they recognized her.
Darla?! What are you doing here? Vee demanded while Yvette pulled Benji underneath her. Having long since abandoned her fears in favor of protecting her son, the Corvette matched Vees glare with heated intensity. Neither could forget what Darla had done nearly three years earlier. Her betrayal of them to their employer, Slade, had nearly cost both of them their lives.
Darla eyed the little boy tucked under Yvette and grinned wolfishly. What? Cant a girl turn a trick without getting the third degree?
Vees frown deepened. Get out, she said coldly. Youre not welcome here.
I think some of the boys here would say otherwise, Darla replied coolly.
Not if they knew what kind of woman you really are! Vee spat.
Darla arched a brow. Oh yeah? You mean like the kind of woman YOU used to be?
Vee paled slightly, then darkened with rage. GET OUT! she shrieked, charging forward and braking just an inch short of colliding with the Mercedes. NOW!
The room had fallen deathly silent. All eyes were on Vee now. Her sides were heaving as she huffed, struggling to keep her cool. In her mind images of Yvette, covered in dents and scrapes, were making it increasingly harder to do so.
Smile never faltering, Darla merely shook her hood. L.A. just isnt the same without you, Veronica. She turned to go and, glancing back in her mirror, added, Slade sends his love.
Something ice-cold passed through Vee at the mention of that name. Slades dead! she snapped. Dead and gone!
Darla braked halfway to the door. Yes, he is, she said quietly, without turning around or looking back. No thanks to you. There was no missing the sting in her voice; the cold fury and accusation and - was that pain? While Darla had been closer to Slade than any of the other escorts whod worked for him, nothing witnessed between the two suggested that their relationship had ever been anything more than physical.
But before Vee could respond, Darla was gone. She and Yvette both stood silently staring out the open door into the dark night beyond. Their questions remained unanswered and unasked. They jumped when Midge spoke.
Do you want to tell me what you were doing with that little hussy? she demanded of Gaspar, who was still backed against the wall.
Not really, no.
I saw you kissing her!
Well, she started it!
What, and you were going to finish it?
No. I didnt have a choice. At Midges scowl he added She overpowered me!
Midge just shook her hood and sighed.
* * *
Several miles down the road, Darla tried Chicks number again. Away from the mountains, her reception had improved. It finally rang through. On the second ring he picked up.
Talk to me.
You were right, Darla said. Shes getting hitched in two days.
And the groom?
I tried, but
well, Ill tell ya later. Oh, and get this: hes a semi! Can you believe that? Veronicas marrying a semi!
Really? Chick sounded surprised. Huh. Well, thats a start. But maybe you oughtta stick around and see if you can dig up some more dirt on her.
Darla chuckled. Oh, I dont need to. I found out plenty. Besides, Veronica wasnt too happy to see me.
Well, what else did you find out? Ford knows she smeared me bad enough three years ago. Its only fair I return the favor.
Oh dont worry, Chicky, Darla purred. We will.
Whats this we crap? Thunder flies solo, babe. You know that.
Hey, Im in on this too whether you like it or not! Darla growled. Ive got my own reasons, too.
"Pssh, fine. Just hurry back here. Thunder cant fly solo for long, if you catch my drift. His voice was heavy with lust.
Darla laughed. Relax, babe. Ill be there before you know it.
Chapter Twelve: [link]