Chapter 4: New Jersey or Bust!
"Why are you packing that bottle?" asked Julie.
"You never know what you might encounter on the high seas," replied Greg.
"Itís a cruise ship," replied Julie, "not a clipper ship full of pirates."
"You never know," replied Greg as he continued packing.
"So how did you manage to get these tickets?" asked Julie.
"Pain, mostly, from a very loud DJ early in the morning," replied Greg, grimacing at the remembrance of the hangover.
"Whatís your definition of early?" asked Julie as she tossed a towel at Greg. He caught it, stuffed it into the bag, and snapped it shut.
"Anytime is too early when you have a hangover," replied Greg.
"I see," replied Julie. "I thought you gave up on drinking."
"I did, but it wanted me back. Besides, those pills didnít help anymore than booze did, and booze is cheaper."
"But itís also more likely to kill you," replied Julie.
"You only live once. Twice if youíre in the witness protection program, or a spy," he added.
"So how are you feeling, I mean with the accident and all," asked Julie.
"Oh, Iím fine about that," replied Greg. "Iím sort of glad it happened. It gave me direction and a place to go."
"I thought punching your boss did that for you," replied Julie.
"That too," he said as he closed his laptop case. "Ready to go?"
"Letís get moving," she said. They got into the now full car and back out of the driveway. He pulled down the street and dropped it into gear as the rode off down the road, on their way to the coast.
"Itís a ten hour trip to the coast Angie," said Anne. "Why didnít we fly?"
"I got cruise tickets, not plane tickets," replied Angie. "Weíre working with nurses salaries here, remember?"
"Right," said Anne. "You could have still sprung for coach at least."
"Oh, road trips always give a chance for bonding," said Angie. "Or learning what you really hate about another person."
"I thought we bonded enough in college," said Anne sarcastically.
"Nah, you can always do more," replied Angie with a giggle.
"So what music did you bring on this road trip?" asked Anne, as she pawed through Angieís CD case.
"Mostly traveling music," said Angie. "You know stuff that makes you want to just put the pedal to the metal and just drive."
"Oh, chilling. Look, my fur is standing on edge."
"Youíre too much. So where do you want to stop for lunch?" asked Angie.
"I dunno," replied Anne. ĎWhatís this town here? Breezewood?" she asked pointing at the map. "Looks like a good halfway point."
"Sounds good," said Angie. A loud thump coming from the engine stopped the conversation in its tracks. Smoke began pouring from underneath, and soon, neither of the two occupants could see out of the car.
"Angie, pull over!" cried Anne.
"Where is over?" yelled Angie. The rumble of the treads on the side of the road slowed the vehicle down to a halt as the two ladies jumped out of the car. Angie popped open the hood and looked down into it.
"Anne, throw me that fire extinguisher," she said calmly. The red metal canister landed in her hand, and she blasted the fire out from the engine compartment. The sparks stopped and Angie looked down at the now smoldering engine of her car.
"Greg, pull over!" yelled Julie. "Those people are in trouble!" Greg looked over to the side and saw just up ahead a vehicle with smoke pouring from the hood. He slowed down and pulled off to the side of the road behind the car. The opened the doors and got out.
ĎHey, thanks for stopping..." began Angie. "You again? How did you know weíd be here?"
"Beatís me," said Greg. "I seem to be running into you a lot lately. Where were you headed with a full car like that?"
"We were headed for New Jersey, but that seems sort of out of the question now," said Angie.
"Who else is with you?" asked Julie. The hood slammed shut and Anne stood at the end of the small car.
"Well, guess what?" said Anne. "You completely destroyed the engine. I think that you put transmission fluid in the oil reservoir," she finished.
Angie cursed under her breath. She knew she should have read the manual first. She looked back at Greg and the lady standing next to him. A girlfriend, perhaps?
"Umm," began Angie, "you think you could give us a ride to the next exit so we can call a tow truck?"
"Where did you say that you were headed again?" asked Greg rubbing his chin.
"New Jersey. Why? I canít ask you to take us there," she said.
"Actually, my sister and I were headed there anyway," replied Greg.
"Who are you talking too... Oh!" said Anne as she walked from behind the car. ĎI didnít notice whom you were talking to."
"Anne, this is um... Greg is it?" said Angie timidly.
"You remembered my name from a month and a half ago?" said Greg. "Iím impressed."
"Well, youíve kept popping up," replied Angie. "You showed up at the hospital and before that, some lady called me at one in the morning looking for you. As to who she was or why she was calling my house..."
"Oops!" said Julie. "Youíre the one I called! You know, your number is really close to Gregís here." She poked him in the ribs. Greg looked back at his sister, and glared.
"Look, this is all real touching, and such," said Anne. "But weíve got a ship to catch in the next day and we donít have a car anymore. Could you at least get us to a service station?"
"Weíll do you one better," said Greg, rubbing his furred chin. "How would you guys feel about riding with us to New Jersey? Weíre headed there anyway for a cruise, it wouldnít be too far out of our way."
"I couldnít ask you to do that," said Angie.
"Thatís why I offered," said Greg. "As long as itís okay with Julie. Julie?" he looked around, but saw his sister no where. He walked back to the car where she was on her cell phone.
"Right, youíll have a truck here in ten minutes? Thanks, good bye." She snapped the phone shut and looked at Greg. "Truck will be here in a few minutes."
"Julie, how would you feel about taking these ladies with us to New Jersey?" asked Greg cautiously.
"I donít care," said Julie. ĎThis car is too big just for two anyway. Besides," she said with a grin, "maybe one of them will grow on you."
"Youíre incorrigible, you know that?" said Greg, mock seriously. "Anyway, weíll just load up their stuff in the trunk and get moving when the tow truck arrives."
"Alright," said Julie as she opened the glove compartment. She pushed a button and the trunk popped open. "You want help with that?"
"Sure, why not?" said Greg. They got out of the car together and walked over to Angieís now deceased vehicle. Anne and Angie were standing behind it discussing something when they arrived.
"...and it worked out that you got the first guy who came in the door," finished Anne, not noticing the two raccoons behind them. Angie turned to look and saw them standing there.
"So whatís the plan?" asked Angie.
"Well, your car is a total loss," said Greg. "So you can just hand over the title to the towing company when they get here."
"And then what?" asked Anne.
"Then we load up you stuff in my car and we all drive out to New Jersey together."
"Is your trunk big enough?" asked Angie. "Ours is pretty much full."
"That, Angie, is a Fiat. My car is a Grand Marquis. I can fit your car in my trunk," he said proudly.
"You know what they say about men who drive big cars donít you?" asked Angie.
"No, what?" asked Greg.
"They have big hearts," said Angie. She smiled at him and began to unload her belongings from the trunk. Julie poked him in the ribs again.
"She likes you man," she said.
"Really?" asked Greg. "How can you tell?"
"Are you really that oblivious, Greg?" asked Julie. "You need to quit drinking. Itís dulling your senses."
"Youíre right," began Greg.
"Hey, could you give me hand here?" called Anne. Greg walked over to the trunk and grabbed two of the bags and deposited them in the back of his car. They finished reloading the entire luggage just as the tow truck arrived. A large grey stoat and a smaller weasel jumped out of the tow truck and looked under the hood of the Fiat. The weasel shook his head.
"Maíam," said the stoat, "You want the good news or the bad news?"
"I know itís dead, how much to tow it?" said Angie.
"More than your car is worth right now," said the weasel. "Anything you want from it before we take it away?"
"Oh yeah," she said. She reached in and pulled the CD player from the dashboard and her cases from the passenger seat. She grabbed her purse, fished through it for a minute and pulled out the title to her car. She handed it over to the stoat.
"You sure about this?" asked Anne.
"Itís cheaper this way," said the stoat. "Iíll go get the paperwork." The stoat pulled a battered briefcase and shuffled through the papers. He signed a few pieces of paper and passed them to Angie to look over. She read them quickly, and signed over her car.
"You ladies want a ride?" asked the stoat. "I can take you to the service station."
"Nah," said Angie. "Weíre headed to New Jersey with these guys."
The weasel looked at Greg and Julie oddly, then shook his head. He pulled out some chains and began hooking up the car so it could be towed. After more paperwork, the weasel gave the thumbs up to the stoat.
"Looks, like weíre ready, maíam," said the stoat. "This is the last youíll ever see of this car."
"Thanks," said Angie. "I never liked it anyway." The stoat looked confused and went back to the truck. The car lifted into the air and they drove off, dragging the deceased car behind him.
"Well, letís get moving," said Angie. "New Jersey, here we come!"
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