Written for OLWG# 224
General Zao’s Daughter
I first noticed Miriam at General Zao’s Daughter. That’s a Chinese Buffet in OKC. We made eyes at one another over the sneeze guards. After gathering our lunches, we sat together on opposite sides of a double booth. She was beautiful.
Dark hair – Dark eyes – Long-limbed – Possessed of an enigmatic smile, moist lips
She’d go back for more food: Kung Pao, Lo Mein, Char siu, Dim sum, and the like.
Me too. I wasn’t all that hungry but I wanted to stare into her eyes. I wanted to watch her put food in her mouth. I wanted her to keep smiling. I wanted her.
We had to pay again, but we stayed for dinner, and I asked her to marry me. She agreed and moved across to share my bench seat. We held hands, stole kisses, dreamed.
“What do you think?” I asked. “It’s only about 1100 miles to Las Vegas. We could do that in a couple of days, honeymoon along the way, get married in one of those all-night chapels on the strip.”
“Oh, I could never do that,” she said. “I’d need to get married before honeymooning.”
“We can drive straight through.” I urged, “It would probably only take about 16 hours.”
We held hands out to the car park. I followed her to her apartment so she could leave her Prius at home, we’d agreed to take my truck. She had noticed that there was more room in the truck and more room meant a more comfortable drive. I couldn’t argue with that logic.
I topped off the tank on the west side of town, and we got on the road. I-40 W would take us to Las Vegas. Miriam settled in on the passenger side, leaned back on the seat and pulled on her seatbelt. She started talking.
“Daddy, do you mind if I call you Daddy?” she started.
“No, I don’t mind.”
“Would you mind calling me Baby? I’d like it if you’d call me Baby. You can call me either Baby or Fritzie. I’ve always wanted to be a Fritzie.
“Uhm, sure, Baby.”
“How fast are you driving, Daddy?”
I looked down at the dash, “A little over the speed limit.”
“Call me Baby, or Fritzie,” she reminded me and playfully cuffed me on the shoulder.
“Make sure you don’t speed after the Texas line. Those Texas cops, they don’t suffer no speeders.”
“Oh yeah, I know.”
There was a bit of congestion at the Texas state line. Miriam cautioned me to slow down. She told me that I should stay in the right-hand lane. It’s less than 200 miles across the Texas panhandle. Baby talked the whole time. She chatted non-stop across New Mexico, too.
“Not so fast, Daddy…Careful, Daddy, you’re straying over the line… Watch out for that truck, there.”
“Baby,” I said, “you gotta quit telling me how to drive.” She stuck out her lower lip and stared out the window for a while. She mumbled something in baby talk that I couldn’t quite make out.
After a while, she began to hum. Some old Janis Joplin song, “mhmm hmm, hmm, hmm, hm, hm, BOBBY McGHEE!”
I thought we’d never get to Vegas, but Fritzie finally fell asleep. She was beautiful when she slept. So peaceful. We found a wedding chapel down the street from the Flamingo. I pulled up in front, and we jumped out of the truck. A sign on the front of the building read “Parking In Rear.”
“Go in and see how long the wait is Fritzie,” I said. “I’ll park the truck.”
She put her hand on my cheek and batted her big bedroom eyes, “Don’t be long, Daddy.” She hustled through the front door to look for the preacher. I walked back around the front of the truck and got in the driver’s seat. The key turned by itself in the ignition and the engine fired up, then slipped into a low rumble. I gripped the wheel at 10 and 2 and rested my forehead between my hands. I thought about what I was about to do, but only for a couple of seconds. Then I whipped a U-Turn and started driving back to Oklahoma, wiggling my fingers in the mirror, waving goodbye.
I saw Miriam again last week. She was coming out of an antique shop on Western Ave. She didn’t see me though; I managed to turn around real quick like. I’m going to be looking over my shoulder forever, now. A girl like that probably carries a straight razor in her purse. Probably holds a grudge too.
King Duck Szechuan
Miriam Chulaushi sat on the other side of the table from Detective Norcross. “Just tell us what happened, in your own words, ma’am.”
She began, “I first noticed him at a Chinese Buffet, here in OKC. It was the King Duck Szechuan on Gaylord Boulevard. I had stopped for an early dinner. It was almost funny the way he tried to flirt with me over the sneeze guards. I tried to ignore him and picked up a bowl of egg drop soup, a couple of beautiful spring rolls, and a generous helping of steamed vegetables. I took a table by the front window so that I could read while I ate. I was reading ‘The Lifeboat’ by Charlotte Rogan. I looked up and the man was standing next to my table with a tray heaped with food. He introduced himself as ‘Jimbo’ and asked if he could share my table as the restaurant was quite full. I nodded and returned to my book.”
Brown hair – Bloodshot eyes – Broad-shouldered – Not too bad looking but not very well educated
“He kept going back for more food: Kung Pao, Lo Mein, Char siu, Dim sum, like he hadn’t eaten in a week.
“I kept my head in my book and tried not to encourage him.
“After what seemed an eternity of awkward silence at the table he blurted out that he loved me and asked me to marry him. I asked him to please find another table.
“Then he said, ‘Oh, come on, Baby, do you mind if I call you Baby? It’s only about 1100 miles to Las Vegas. We could do that in a couple of days, honeymoon along the way, get married in one of those all-night chapels on the strip.’
“Oh, I could never do that,” I said in an attempt to discourage him. “I’d have to have a husband before I had a honeymoon.
“‘We can drive straight through.’ he urged, ‘It would probably only take about 16 hours.’ Then he snatched my hand and whispered, ‘don’t make a scene.’ He dragged me out to the lot and threw me into the passenger side of a large, red, Ford truck.
“He topped off the tank on the west side of town and got on I-40 W. I remember thinking how unreal it was that I had been abducted. The truck must have had a child lock on the passenger side. I couldn’t open the door. I crouched, trying to make myself small against the side of the truck as far away from him as possible. I hoped he couldn’t reach me. He started talking.
“‘You should call me Daddy,’ he started.
“I nodded my head, afraid to disagree.
“‘Would you mind if I called you, Baby? I’d like to call you, Baby. Or I could call you, Fritzie. I’ve always wanted a Fritzie.’
“He drove like a maniac. Doing at least 95, all the way to the Texas border.”
“I tried to fight. I hit him on the shoulder, the neck, and face hoping to cause him to drive off the road. He seemed impervious to anything I said or did. He only smiled, and we rode west in silence for a time.
“ ’Easy there, Baby, he said at the Texas line. These Texas cops, they don’t mess around. Don’t do anything to draw attention to us’
“All I could do over and over again was ask him where we were going, but he wouldn’t answer that question.
“There was a bit of congestion at the Texas state line, and he slowed down some. He kept it slow and stayed in the right-hand lane. We listened to cowboy music across the Texas panhandle and through New Mexico.
“I stayed quiet and tried to stay small, hoping against hope that he would forget I was there.
“After a while, he began to hum and then sing along with the radio; Eddie Arnold, Johnny Cash, George Jones and the like.
“I fell asleep and woke up outside Vegas when he started slowing down. He stopped at a wedding chapel down the street from the Flamingo and parked in the back.
“Stay put Fritzie,” he said. “I’ll check it out.”
“He put her hand on my shoulder and smiled, ‘you’re gonna be a beautiful bride’. He took the keys and hustled through the chapel door to look for the preacher. I slid over and got out on the driver’s side. I made a beeline down the alley and turned left. I turned right or left every chance I got trying to get away until I finally saw a Las Vegas patrol car and flagged ‘em down.
“That was 27 months ago. He got sentenced to 32 months and then got five off for what? Good Behaviour? I saw Jimbo again last week as I came out of an antique shop on Western Avenue. I don’t think he saw me though; I managed to turn around real quick like. I’m going to be looking over my shoulder forever, now. An asshole like that probably carries a straight razor in his hip pocket. Probably holds a grudge too.”
This week’s prompts were:
- my favourite kind of crazy
- the bride’s waiting
- I nailed the window shut