It was your typical Thursday at the Law Firm. She’d shown up at 0730 ready for action. They needed her. And, she wanted to keep it that way. She hated paperwork, but it paid the bills handsomely and allowed her to save while helping her aunt keep the farm. Besides on Friday, she was going “home” to the farm. It was her weekend. One weekend out of three, she go to the Farm. It was much harder work than the city but it kept her head clear. She arose each day as if she was at the farm: 0500. She did her morning PT in her tiny apartment in the Bronx. A light breakfast. Some personal paperwork. Chomping at the bit for dawn. Then it was safe to go out. Yesterday, she had brought her rucksack to work for Friday’s Peter Pan Trailways to “Bennington 05201”. If she was lucky, she’d make the 5PM that would put her into Bennington at 9. Her aunt would pick her up at the station and they’d talk all the way home. But back to reality, here and now.
Today’s challenge was this latest UN boondoggle that the Firm had landed: Rubber Tyres Regulation / Bycycle Division. The gals called it “condoms for bike wheels”, “rubbers for spokes”, or just foolishness. But it paid the bills. Handsomely. She had to collect all the attorney input, fill out a slew of formulaic nonsense, and attach all the copied citations. She had two women to help her. By the time they were done, it would be 800 plus pages of “barbara streisand”. To do it properly she was going to tie it up in red ribbon with a big store bought bow. Her boss would think that was funny. He treated her well; not like some of the other chauvinists. Even going so far to pretend that he had romantic interests. That kept all the junior attorney lotharios of both sexes from making passes at her. He was sensitive like that. She had explained to his wife about Chuck, how the Firm was a mini Sodom and Gomorrah, and what her husband was doing for her. She didn’t want the woman to get the wrong idea. And, name her as a respondent. That would spell the end of her paycheck. And, her protection.
She was well on her way to completing the “condom” paperwork when at about 11, his nibs waltzes out with his golf clubs and in his old clothes. Announces a holiday for a long weekend. And orders her to go home. Breezes out of the office. She was torn. She really wanted to finish the paperwork. It was her objective to secure another “outstanding” on her appraisal. Last year, that had gotten her a 50% bonus that bought a new high efficiency tractor for the farm. And she also bought a bunch of gold bullion coins with the rest. Those were were now safely ensconced in a jar, resting in a bucket, nailed in the corner of a very disgusting pig pen, guarded 24/7 by five easily irritated nasty hogs. But, she could have a long weekend. Sigh! Even if she had to work late next week, the Firm would send her home by limo and buy them all dinner. That would mean some extra bucks as well. Her assistants were waiting for her to decide. Meekly. They wouldn’t gripe what ever she decided. They needed their jobs as well. Poop or poop. Which poop would she tend to. After all, it was an “order”.
“OK, gals, you heard the man, it’s the weekend! Bye.” They were so outta there. Vamos. Amscray. Via con Dios! The younger gal was gone in a heartbeat. Took her purse, locked her desk, and left her coffee right where it sat. An archeologist would think it was Pompeii. She pulled her rucksack from under her desk, called her aunt, got the machine, and left a message. “Got off the rest of the week, no idea why, job secure, catching the next bus out of town, bennington at 5 or 7 depending upon the subway, luv ya, bye!”. She and her other helper walked quickly out together. Down to the subway and caught the E train just coming into the station. At Canal she swapped to the express. And, finally had time to catch her breath. Could she catch the noon stage? Four stops! She hustled up the stairs. She was an in shape farm girl. 1140 by the master clock. Ticket window: $29.25. Why not just make it an even 30? Zaro’s for a prepack sandwich, three bottles of water, (the bus had a passable bathroom if needed; she could run the gauntlet!), and six of the “honey buns” her aunt liked. And, a small dual box for the driver. Down the steps to the number six gate in the basement. 1152 by that clock. Did Einstein discover relativity by the clocks with different times in the bus station? Ticket to driver. And, the coffin corner seat was available. Everyone hated it because it was hard to sleep. She liked to be safe by the driver. She’d heard of rapes and assaults in the back of the bus.
Rufus James Simpson had the noon stage. She knew him. He was a regular driver. Retired military. Drove to supplement his pension. He drive the morning commutation route that left Bennington at 4AM and pulled in at 9AM. Who would come that far for work? To get home at 9PM. And, pay 40 dollars a day. They got a discount. They should get a free psych exam. And Rufus would take the noon run home. Got him home at 6PM for dinner. “Rufus, here’s a present for dessert tonight.” “Why thank you Missie. The wife and I appreciate your kindness.” He adjusted the mirrors, started the beast, and tooted for the starter to back him out. He wouldn’t speak again until they docked at Bennington. He was a pro. Out of the port authority, across to second avenue, north to the 155th street bridge, onto 95 north, Fordham Road, to Route 7. City streets were faster than the tied up expressways. She often wished they stopped at Pownell. That would save an hour, but beggars can’t be.
She was exhilarated. A whole extra day on the farm. Tonight she had to see which of the projects she could move from the Three Day Weekend board. Maybe Chuck would be free Friday. Maybe she could wangle him to ask her out on a date. The boy was a little obtuse. She sat very close to him in Church. Put the near occasion of sin in her mind; can’t imagine what it did to him. The bus was half full. Some hospital workers had five on five off and it paid good money. They’d come down and never leave the hospital. Sleep in the ready room or such. She didn’t know how they did it, but they did.
As the crossed the Vermont border, she unzipped her rucksack bottom and a little ditty bag came free. She inserted her hands in it and felt the cool metal. Quickly, inside the bag, she assembled her 1911 hogleg. A girl’s best friend. Any of the boys in the far back, that had romance on their minds, lost the urge when she emerged from the bus wearing the ultimate fashion statement. A USMC surplus holster with side arm. And she knew how to use it. And, her judo too. I am woman! Hear me roar!
The bus pulled into the dock and she was the first one off. Her aunt and Chuck were there. Grim faced. Her aunt hugged her. Chuck kissed her. Full on the lips. She was ready to haul off an slap him. ‘Til she saw tears in both their eyes. “What’s wrong? Who died? And, Chuck what would the Reverend say?” Chuck said: “Glad you’re safe. That’s what he’d say. Now stay close.” That was when she noticed her aunt had a shotgun and Chuck drew a 380 girlie gun. Where’d he get that? She never saw him carry. Her aunt led off and Chuck was on her rear. Literally on it. Not that she minded, but he was almost in present arms position. If she turned around quick, the marriage could have been consummated. That’s how close. Up the stairs, two at a time, out on the street, she could see the disarray. Looked like a riot had been through. Their neighbors, the Herows, were there with their big old car. Louie had his over and under out. The one with no serial number. Marion had her famously rubber banded hog leg. She couldn’t work the “safety” with her arthritis. So it was rubber banded down to make it easier for her to shoot. Some safety. Chuck shoved her in the back seat and ran to the other side. Her aunt shoved in next to her and her rucksack was her best buddy from knees to nose. It was all she could do to keep the Zaro’s buns from getting crushed; her physical goodies were mashed. Louis got in and the door wasn’t closed when Marion had the car moving at speed. She shifted like Mario Andretti. And at the corner she was at 60. Thru the red light and out to Route 7 south. The No Left Turn sign there was ignored as if it was invisible. On Route 7, Marion had the old tub at 90. The wheels were shaking. “Marion! Easy. Killing us ain’t saving us!”, said Louie in a quiet almost loving voice. That was unusual. She’d never heard them speak in anything but a grouch.
She still didn’t have a clue. So she just said: “Thanks. I appreciate you all coming to pick me up. Can I buy coffee for everyone? There’s buns here somewhere.” Chuck looked at her. Stunned. “You don’t know; do you?” “Know what? Other than that was very forward of you to kiss me like that. We really haven’t had that kind of introduction yet.” “There’s riots going on. Civilization is ending. The welfare is being cut. The money is worthless. The world has gone nuts.” She looked at him as if he had two heads. “I just left the city. Everything is fine. I’ll be going back to my job on Monday.” Her aunt grabbed her hand: “New York doesn’t exist. It was nuked this evening. You were on the last stage. We weren’t sure you made it. Now we have to get to the farm and get under cover before the fallout blows our way.”
She too began to weep. Chuck put his arm around her. And, Marion continued to drive like a maniac! They were all silent. As if holding a wake for a dying civilization!
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