I should’ve never let her park in the church parking lot.
Still. It’s Mary, for crying out loud. Who’s going to stop her?
The vehicle that had pulled up to the house just before the serving job had been shocking in its size.
“Holy Hannah,” I had grunted, pulling myself up into the passenger seat, “what is this? Are we going to a construction job afterwards?”
“This,” Mary chortled, “is the 2004 Ford King Ranch Powerstroke Turbo Diesel.”
“Not much of a vehicle, is it?” I said. “You couldn’t get more than, what, 77, 78 bags of groceries in here.”
“Scoff if you will,” she said, “but up here, we are lords of all we survey.”
“Hmm,” I said.
“LORDS,” she repeats.
And now, in the ice-cold darkness of a Minneapolis night, the starch slowly leaving our once-crisp shirts, our spines compressed from almost five hours of standing, the previously empty parking lot is a sea of cars.
The truck rumbles with a display of engine-ness rarely seen outside of Monster Truck Rallies. I mention this aloud.
“That’s not a word,” Mary says. “You can’t say “engine-ness”.”
I stare at her. “I retract “engine-ness”.” The cab of the truck is relatively silent.
I check my side mirror, her gauges. “So, um,” I say, “what’re we waiting for?”
Mary is staring out the rear-view. “You know,” she says, “I thought we’d be the last ones out of the lot.”
I turn to her. “Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Probably,” she says. “Unless it’s about how much I’d like a cigarette right now. Because I wouldn’t. Like a cigarette right now.”
Neither of us smoke anymore.
I sigh a little inward sigh, open the door, and drop 30 feet to the ground. (Truck height is approximate and not to be used for gambling purposes.)
Saturday night, roughly 10:15. Fully 40 degrees warmer than it was when the Polar Vortex settled in last week, it is, of course, still winter, still cold. The stars cut through the black overhead with a fragile, cruel beauty.
I zip my coat to my chin and step to the back of the truck.
“OK,” I shout, “Come back, back, back…”
Will Mary and Pearl ever get out of the parking lot? Come back tomorrow for Part Two in which we find our heroines inching toward freedom!