“Richard, if we’re lucky, no one will be on the street to see us,” I said sounding more hopeful than I felt.
“Fannie, when have we ever been that lucky?” Richard asked turning the Love Wagon onto our street.
“Bunny did say they were going to a movie this afternoon. They might not be home,” I said.
As we climbed the slight hill we could see George and Bunny standing in their driveway talking. Richard’s shoulders slumped.
They waved when they spotted us. Richard stopped in front of their driveway.
“Hey you two, how was the bicycle ride?” George asked placing his large hand on the truck, every vein pushed close to the surface by the muscles beneath.
“We had a great time,” Richard said, “we joined a cycling group and they dragged us most of the way up the trail.”
“Fannie, darlin’, were you able to keep up with those short legs of yours?” George asked smiling. His soft spoken Texas accent a contrast to the bass voice emanating from his large frame.
“George, I’m faster than I look,” I said smiling. “Besides, I loved chasing Richard’s butt up the trail.”
Richard shot me a dirty look.
“I thought you two were going to a movie this afternoon?” I asked looking from George to Bunny.
“We were, honey, but then we saw you two drive up,” Bunny said with her refined Texas accent her long blond pony tail bobbing as she nodded, “we thought you might like to get cleaned up and join us.”
“I think I’ll pass,” Richard said, “the ride took a lot out of me and I’m looking forward to a nap. Another time maybe.”
“Sounds good,” George said thumping his hand on the window frame, “we’ll hold you to it.”
Richard pulled the Love Wagon into the driveway. Looking in the side view mirror, I could see George and Bunny talking at the end of their driveway.
“Richard, it’s going to look really odd if we don’t get out of the car.”
“I’m contemplating my options,” he said still holding the steering wheel. “I should’ve backed the truck up then I could’ve at least covered my tracks until I got into the house.”
“Richard, it’s not that bad. What’s the worst that could happen?”
He stared at me for a moment shaking his head his lips pressed into a tight seam. With slow deliberation he checked the mirror one last time. Taking a deep breath he opened the door. I leaped to the ground from my side of the truck. Richard turned to close the door, his back to the neighbors.
Laughter erupted from across the street. George and Bunny walked up our driveway as I joined Richard at the back of the truck to unload the bikes.
“Honey, I told George something was up when you just sat in the truck like that,” Bunny said trying to stifle another laugh. “Richard, we just have to know what happened?”
“As you can see we had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction and had to improvise,” I said smiling. I shaded my eyes as I looked up at them.
“It wasn’t my fault,” Richard said glaring at me and turning a minor shade of red. “We drove all the way out to Orting for the ride and didn’t want to waste the trip.”
“Exactly how did this happen?” George asked trying not to stare at Richard’s butt, fighting to contain himself.
“You guys know I’m not a morning person,” I said looking guilty. “Well, it was kinda my fault.”
The alarm sounded at 6:30 a.m. The heads of two orange cats popped up from under the blanket at the foot of the bed looking at Richard. He threw the blanket from the bed. The cats scrambled to the floor and out of the room.
I opened one puffy eye and looked around. “Why am I so cold?”
“Fannie it’s time to get up, we’re going to ride the Orting Trail today, remember?” Richard said shaking my shoulders. “We need to get moving if we’re ever gonna get out of here.”
“Richard it’s 6:30 on a Saturday morning, I can assure you the trail is not going any where, how about ten more minutes?”
Richard removed the pillow from under my head. “I know better than to believe that, you promised you’d get up, now get moving. I’ll go make the coffee.”
Groaning, I climbed out of bed and shuffled toward the bathroom. In the mirror I could see a stranger with a brown crew cut and swollen slits where green eyes should have been. By the time I reached the kitchen Richard held out a travel mug filled with coffee and a couple of breakfast bars.
“I’ve got water in the car and some food, we just need to load the bicycles,” he said ushering me toward the garage. “I’ve already fed the cats and the fish.”
Richard opened the garage door while my zombie avatar grabbed my helmet, gloves and bicycle. Wheeling my bicycle to the back of the Love Wagon, a red Ford F150, Richard opened the canopy and the tail gate. Handing him my bicycle he tossed it onto the ten inch queen memory foam futon which resides in the back. The bicycle bounced just missing the disco ball.
He tossed his bike on top of mine, closed the tail gate and led me to the passenger side of the truck.
“Do you need a leg up this morning or can you make it?”
“Very funny,” I said. “I can make it just fine,” I said as I miscalculated the distance and smacked my head on the door jamb.
“Oh, that’s gonna leave a mark,” Richard said laughing, while I rubbed my head.
Leaving the Peninsula, we headed toward Interstate 5 and Puyallup. Richard singing along with Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off, while I sipped coffee and morphed into something resembling a human.
By the time we pulled off highway 410 at the Orting/Sumner exit my eyeballs emerged from their swollen cocoons. Richard drove the last few miles and turned right into the McMillin Trailhead parking lot. The clock on the dash read 8:20 a.m.
One other car sat in the parking lot. We parked in front of the restroom. Richard climbed out of the truck. I slid from my seat like molded Jell-O. We met at the tail gate.
“Fannie, I’m gonna hand you my bike first,” he said reaching into the truck bed.
Richard passed me the bike. I parked it near the driver’s side of the tail gate. Handing me my bike, I walked it over to the outside of his bike. Richard gave me a water bottle. Bending over to put the bottle into its cage I lost my balance falling onto Richard’s bicycle.
Richard grabbed his bike and moved his right foot backwards to brace himself against the tail gate.
“Are you all right,” he asked as I righted myself.
“Yeah, just embarrassed,” I said, “are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” he said. As he moved away from the tail gate, something ripped. Richard looked surprised then pissed. “Great, I just ripped a hole in the back of my shorts. How bad is it?”
“Turn around, let me see.”
A two inch long triangle shaped tear in the spandex stopped just above his bum.
“You didn’t bring any spare clothes did you?” I asked looking at the hole, “cause I doubt you wanna ride with something that ventilated when you’re going commando.”
“I didn’t bring any spare clothes, but I’ve got some duct tape in the cab, we can just tape it over until we’re done.”
“What’s that the 1,002 use for duct tape?” I asked laughing.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said walking to the cab of the truck. He reach behind the driver’s seat and pulled out a spent roll of duct tape.
“Do you have any more?”
“No,” he said the color rising in his cheeks.
“You must have something in there we could use,” I said walking around to the passenger side. Opening the glove box, I found a couple maps, the registration, some pens and a bright yellow bumper sticker which read, “Follow me to drive thru feed”.
“Hey Richard, where did you get this?” I asked holding up the bumper sticker.
Richard looked up from his search.
Laughing he said, “George gave that to me. I guess one of Bunny’s massage client brought them quite a few.”
“You know, we could use the bumper sticker.”
“I’m not putting a bumper sticker on my butt.”
“Do you want to ride or don’t you?” I asked waving the bumper sticker. “Necessity is the mother of invention, besides if you wear the sticker people might think you’re a sponsored rider.”
Richard looked at me for a moment shaking his head. “Fine, put on the sticker.”
“Can you hold this up while I peal off the backing?” I asked guiding his hand to the tear. Centering the sticker I pressed firmly as stated in the directions.
“Hey, what are you doing back there,” he said moving away. “Hold still, it says I have to press firmly on a clean surface.”
I stood back admiring my work. Giggling I said, “I’d be happy to follow you anywhere.”
“Get on your bike,” he said rolling his eyes.
As we were mounting our bikes a cycling team pulled into the parking lot to use the rest room.
I leaned over to Richard and said, “Look you’re not the only one with a sponsored butt, they all have ‘Clif’ on theirs.”
George and Bunny burst out laughing.
Note: Richard’s impromptu sponsor doesn’t have a website, but blogger Beyond the Sidewalks did give Jerry’s Drive Thru Feed a review. Don’t know if Jerry’s actually married yet.