The August sun’s penetrating rays pierced through the glass of a curved windshield, illuminating the interior, and creating a brilliant light show, cascading from seat to seat. A suede-stitched dream-catcher hung effortlessly off the rear-view mirror, leaving a bohemian vibe to an otherwise classic American car. In the back seat, a woman’s size seven foot was peeking out of the side window. The sole of her foot, stained with dirt, making her pink toenails pop as they clung to the thong of her flip-flop for dear life. The sound of a four-cylinder engine hummed in the background, but the keys weren’t in the car’s ignition. Just a girl in the backseat with dainty features, camouflaged by a mess of dirty blonde hair, pulsating from the rumbles of each snoring breath.
“Vanessa! Your shift started an hour ago!”
Vanessa’s snores only intensified. Rory shook his head and wiped his glistening brow with the back of his hand.
“Channing Tatum is getting married again. It’s all over the news!” Rory shouted.
“What? To whom? I bet she’s a trollop!” Vanessa said, startled.
“Knew that would get you,” Rory giggled.
Vanessa slowly stumbled out of her car. The stretch marks on her hips beautifully shimmered in the sun. She pulled down her t-shirt that had sleepwalked across her torso in the night.
“Seriously though, Ror. Is he engaged?”
“Pffffttt! No! I was just messing with you,” Rory said.
“I still have a chance!” Vanessa screamed, as both fists punched the sky.
“By the way, you’re lucky you still have a job with how often you’re late,” Rory warned.
“I’m not late. I parked here last night. Technically, I’m early!” She said proudly.
“I can’t even argue with you anymore. You can talk your way out of anything.”
“I can talk my way out, but not my way in. Hence, the lack of Tatum on my arm,” she said, motioning to her lonely right arm, bent at a right angle.
“Maybe if you stopped reading so many books, he might come a knockin’. You aren’t completely ugly, you might have a chance,” he said, with a blush and a wink. “By the way, trollop? Did you have to pay extra to get that word shipped here overnight from the seventeenth century?”
“First of all, Tatum would want someone with an eye for literature. Someone cultured!”
“OH yes, cultured you are. Like a fine sauerkraut,” Rory joked.
Vanessa laughed, “Drinks after work?”
“Ya, ya, ya,” Rory said, rolling his eyes.
Vanessa’s fists returned to the sky, “Yessssss!”
She grabbed oil-stained overalls from the glove compartment and slid them over her curvy hips, fastening a single strap over her shoulder.
“I gotta fund my book addiction somehow,” she sighed, walking into the car garage.
After shift, Vanessa walked into the unisex bathroom and scrubbed her job off her hands. She looked in the mirror, noticing the Exxon Mobil-sized oil spill on her forehead.
“I’ve got to be careful; any more oil leaks and the world will go to war to claim me,” she whispered.
“That’s about the only time someone would fight over you.”
Vanessa jumped and sucker-punched the air, but clipped something mid-flight.
“It’s me!” Rory surrendered, clutching his arm.
“Don’t do that! You’re lucky I only gave you a bruise on your arm,” Vanessa yelled.
“But it was my favorite arm. You ruined it,” Rory said, attempting to gain sympathy, but a smile crept onto his artificial pout.
“You done being dramatic? I wanna get there before annoying college girls with stripper heels and the walking ability of a one-legged giraffe steal the best seats,” Vanessa said.
“How did the giraffe lose its leg?” Rory asked.
“Same way you almost just lost your arm.”
“That’s fair,” Rory nodded.
They made it to the sports bar, just behind the herd of the young and the reckless. Their faces were covered in thick layers of foundation. The color was a shade of diluted Tang. Vanessa was immediately uncomfortable by their presence.
“Why do they even come? It’s a sports bar. We’re here to watch the fight,” Vanessa vented.
“They enjoy fighting over eligible bachelors, like myself. Same thing.”
“Keep your falsehoods to yourself, Ror. I’m getting nauseous and I haven’t even ordered yet. I’ll sort this out, hold my book,” Vanessa said, shoving her book into Rory’s waist. She walked over to the girls in line.
“Hey! Where do y’all go to school?”
The shortest girl with the most makeup stepped forward. Her eyes scanned Vanessa’s body up and down.
“Vassar,” she said, her eyes rolling like the pool balls on the table beside her.
“You?” She asked, waiting for Vanessa to reply with a school for the unprivileged.
“I don’t go to college,” Vanessa plainly said.
“That explains the overalls, and the dirt,” the pack leader hissed, her hyenas cackling beside her. Vanessa had only intended to make friends. To persuade them to sit away from the seats closest to the TV. But they drew first blood.
“You’re funny. Bet you learned that wit at Vassar. What’s your name?” Vanessa asked.
“Armani Capollo,” she said, folding her arms against her heavily padded chest.
“Of course, it is. Like the designer?” Vanessa asked, trying to feed Armani’s ego.
“My family is richer than the designer. Maybe name-dropping Armani Capollo might get you into a community college,” she laughed.
“I’ll definitely remember your name, Armani. Have a nice night, ladies,” Vanessa said, smiling.
She quickly walked back to Rory, sitting next to the cashier and the telephone, trying to peek around the corner for even a glimpse of the TV screen. Vanessa immediately Google searched the bar’s phone number.
“Ror, don’t ask questions. Just call this number in five minutes.” Not wanting another bruise on his arm, he agreed.
“Can I order some nachos?” Vanessa asked the cashier, knowing he was the only cook on staff. He nodded, waltzing back to the kitchen behind the bar.
“Ror, call it,” she demanded. The phone rang twice before Vanessa picked up.
“Hello! Yes? Oh, dear. I’ll let her know. Hold, please.” Vanessa pounced on the bar top and stood over a sea of customers, the phone glued to her hip.
“Excuse me. EXCUSE ME!” She screamed. The bar went silent.
In the corner, Armani and her cronies were getting cozy with a group of ivy league jocks.
“Sorry for the interruption. There’s an urgent medical situation that needs to be attended to. Is there an Armani Capollo here?” Vanessa asked, heavily in character.
One of Armani’s dimwitted minions raised her hand, yelling, “She’s here!” The entire bar shifted their bodies toward Armani, then slowly back to Vanessa.
“Ms. Capollo, that was the pharmacy. Your gynecologist sent them an order for your very much needed STD medication. They don’t want you suffering any longer from your hideous and contagious case of CHLAMYDIA!”
The frat boys grabbed their wallets and disappeared. The bar harmonized in laughter as Armani tearfully grabbed her coat and ran out the exit.
“Quick, let’s grab their seats!” Vanessa said, jumping off the bar with a graceful thud. Stunned, Rory followed.
“That was…pure…evil,” Rory muttered.
“We got our seats back, didn’t we?” Vanessa said quickly.
Rory laughed, “Those idiot frat guys actually believed you. Why would a pharmacy call a bar? If they did, they would need to confirm a patient’s identity with a birth date. You Bart Simpsoned them. None of that was plausible.”
“Hello,” Vanessa said, pointing both fingers at her chair, “Seats back. I won. You’re welcome.”
“What’d they say to deserve this level of retaliation?” Rory asked.
“They made fun of my overalls and insinuated I was stupid because I didn’t go to college.”
“Those trollops!” Rory said.
Vanessa’s eyes lit up. She waved her hands up in the air and slammed them humorously back down on her thighs.
“That’s what I’m saying!”
“Why didn’t you go to college, though? I mean, you’re smart. You never leave the house without a book. You’re quick to problem solve and could talk a hungry lion out of eating its supper,” Rory asked.
“The cost, no family status. But mostly, I don’t need an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper signed by an overpaid dean to prove my intelligence or my worth. I have my car, my job, and a friend willing to be an accomplice. What else do I need?” Vanessa said earnestly.
“Plus, you aren’t completely repulsive to look at. Only a little,” Rory joked.
“Every girl’s dream. To be described as ‘not completely repulsive.’ I should get that printed on a t-shirt. Make sure the world knows,” Vanessa sarcastically said.
“I think the overalls give off that vibe already,” Rory chuckled.
Vanessa and Rory spent the night drinking Busch lattes and eating the plate of greasy nachos that they knew gave them a fifty-fifty chance at contracting salmonella poisoning. By the end of the night, Rory had a matching pair of arm bruises, the hazards of teasing Vanessa. He didn’t mind, though. Vanessa could talk him into anything.
Sarah Martin is a 28-year-old college student, pursuing a degree in English/creative writing and communications. She’s the social media coordinator for the Freshwater Literary Journal, which publishes writing from authors around the world. She has placed third and second in the Connecticut State College Writing Contests (2020 and 2021). She was given the Excellence in English award by Asnuntuck Community College (2020). You can read her work in the 2020 and 2021 Freshwater Literary Journals.