Mirage by Dalmatia Flemming
Mirage by Dalmatia Flemming
Dana was prepared this time. No more driving in concentric circles looking for a parking space only to find spaces big enough for a Smart Car, like what happened the last time she tried to park on Friday night. She went to the city’s department of transportation website and found the official parking map. It was difficult to read; the legend showed six parking categories, each a different color, six different sign types … more colors, three patterns for am/pm restrictions and another color for spaces temporarily out of commission.
Dana determined she would head straight for the peripheral area, park and then walk; should be no more than ten blocks. So that was the plan; so much better to drive straight there, park and walk instead of her previous infuriating Friday night parking experience. The goal was to meet Ellen for Happy Hour before the movie. She performed the math calculation to ensure she left on time.
But … wait … could it be?! A parking spot on the coveted single block of “Unrestricted” parking?! This single street in the heart of all the action becomes available for free parking at 6 pm. Daily, cars begin to jockey for position at 5:55, circling the block until 6 pm. It was now 6:30 pm. How could this space still be available?! Was this a mirage?
Dana snagged the spot. She relaxed back into her seat and feeling very self-satisfied, let out a gentle exhale and smiled.
So now she would be early!
Dana decided the additional vest layer she had decided to wear under her coat was excessive. Even though she was a pro at completely undressing in stages at stop signs without ever exposing herself while changing into her exercise clothes, for some unknown reason she decided to get out of the car to remove her coat and then the vest.
Standing close to the car so as not to get hit by traffic, Dana started to remove her coat. Exactly what happened next will never be known … did the site of oncoming traffic trigger a self-preservation instinct in her so that she closed the car door to move in closer and get away from traffic? Did parking on a slight incline cause the door to be overcome by the force of gravity, consequently closing it? All of a sudden Dana became aware that the car door was closed and her purse, phone and keys were inside. “No … no!” Dana dashed around the car checking each door. “Shit!”
The miracle parking experience was a miracle no more.
OK, now what. Dana decided this called for a Happy Hour prior to the arranged Happy Hour / movie. She walked into the nearest tavern, a mere 20 feet away, and sat down at the one available bar seat between a man and a woman.
Dana looked around. The woman sitting next to her was texting. “Excuse me” Dana said to the woman. “I don’t have my phone with me, could I make a quick call on your phone?”
“Sure, no problem … just let me finish this.” The woman handed Dana her phone.
Dana proceeded to call AAA. The man sitting next to her glanced her direction and was clearly listening in. Dana thanked the woman for the use of her phone.
“I can break in to your car for you” said the man sitting next to Dana.
“Thanks, but I just called AAA. Someone will be here within the hour … but …” Dana glanced around the bar looking for a clock on a wall … “I’ll probably be late to meet my friend.”
“Where are you parked?”
“Practically right outside the door.”
“Come on” the man said, while standing up and placing cash on the bar.
“Well, what about AAA? And how can you be so sure you can break into my car anyway?”
“Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of practice.”
“You used to work for AAA?”
“Would you like your car door to be open 5 minutes from right now?”
“Come on then” the man said as he headed for the door.”
“You have a Slim Jim in your pocket or something” Dana said as she scurried along behind him, not quite sure that this was a good idea.
The man looked at her car. “Piece of cake.”
The man pulled from his pocket something that was used as a Slim Jim is used, but it was clearly a make-shift tool. He proceeded to work on the door. Twenty seconds later, Dana’s car door was open.
“Wow” Dana said, trying to restrain herself from jumping up and down. She was ecstatic but also suspicious …. Oh, what the Hell. She gave the man a childlike bear hug, encircling his arms with hers so that he could barely move. “Thank you, thank you!”
“Uh … you’re welcome.”
Dana quickly let go of the man, stepped back and started blushing. “Thank you, thank you.”
“You can stop saying thank you now.”
“So, what about this appointment with your friend?”
“Oh, we’re meeting for Happy Hour and a movie … want to join us?” What on Earth have I just done thought Dana? I don’t even know this guy’s name and he might be a serial car thief! But he was cute … or was that just because he got her out of a jam. But then, he could be her Knight in Shining Armor.
“Mike”, he held out his hand.
Dana shook it. “Pleased to meet you Mike.”
Dana and Mike headed towards the arranged Happy Hour spot.
Forty five minutes later the AAA guy showed up.