“Wow, you really know how to handle a stick, huh?” Gary chortled.
He sat next to me in the passenger seat of my 2000 Plymouth Neon, which happened to have a manual transmission.
Gary was older than me—like 40 or something. He was the older brother of a guy I worked with. Actually, Gary worked there as well, but he was higher up than the rest of us minions so I never had much interaction with him. But I could always feel when he was nearby.
I wasn’t keen on the idea of driving Gary home from the department gathering at a bar that Friday night after work, but he was without a driver’s license—or car, for that matter. Plus I was the only one not drinking and I’d hate to have to live with knowing I could’ve prevented a drunk from getting behind the wheel.
I knew right away Gary was pretty smitten with the idea of me driving him home, and then when he saw I could drive stick…I had a feeling he’d be dreaming about me that night.
I always wished I could be the girl that could live life like an adventure. Sure I was married and loved my husband, but he was away so often. It was bad enough I wasn’t drinking that night, what was preventing me from adventuring with Gary? Me. I was stopping myself from having fun. I was being a good girl. A shy girl. A married girl whose husband called every night when he was on the road.
“Thanks,” Gary said as I pulled up to his house.
I could sense his hesitation with getting out of the car. I knew he wanted to ask me something.
Or tell me something.
Or do something.
Feeling his glare, I just sat there looking at the Neon’s headlights bounce off the dilapidated siding of his house. He was trying to make eye contact like always. Like when we were at work. Like when I walked to the bathroom just past his office and he watched. I know he watched me all the time. I could feel him watching. I could feel when he was nearby. Always.
I finally turned to look at Gary and give him the eye contact I know he wanted. I smiled and put my right hand on the stick shift and squeezed—all while keeping eye contact.
Game on, Gary, I thought to myself.
Gary returned the smile, licking his lips. “Wanna come in for a beer?”
I looked past his thick-lens glasses, over the redness, and into his brown eyes.
“I could go for a smoke,” I replied, turning the ignition key and pulling it out.
Gary fumbled around in his jacket pockets while moving to the front of the car. “I didn’t think you smoked,” he tossed over his shoulder to me.
“I usually don’t.” I walked past Gary, toward the front door of his house.
Wind chimes rattled behind me. It was Gary with his keys. I think the big guy was getting nervous. This was going to be more of an adventure than I had anticipated and I started wondering why the hell I took so long to unleash the bad girl in me.
Gary rushed past me to the front door and jammed the key in the lock while I jammed my hands in my jeans pocket so it could hold onto my rings.