The sun burnt my back as I rested my hand on the roof of my little Jaguar XKE and leaned to look in the driver’s window. “You should come out now.”
The giant, folded rather uncomfortably over the passenger seat and the tiny nonexistent back seat of the coupe, peered back at me with small, black eyes. His voice was like the rumble of the exhaust. “Some things are an option. Some things are not.”
“Well, how did you get in there?” I demanded. “Get out the way you came in.”
The giant didn’t answer, and I pressed the heel of my hand into my right eye.
Sure enough, when Jonathan got there, he took it personally.
“Oh, I see how it is,” he said. His Volvo sported three Stillwelll bumper stickers; since he’d become an aide for Stillwell, he’d apparently decided that bumper stickers on luxury cars weren’t trashy after all. He twisted the knot of his I’m-useful-call-on-me tie and sneered at the Jag. “You don’t want to go to the show, so you put this giant in your car.”
“I want to go,” I protested. “You are being completely melodramatic.”
“This is just like you.” Jonathan opened the passenger side door of the Jaguar and gestured at the cramped giant’s body inside. The giant didn’t look at him; he was too crushed to turn his head. Jonathan said, “Oh, I’d love to go, Jonathan, I really would, but he’s completely stuck. Trust you, Ashley, to go to absolutely obscene lengths to avoid having to say ‘no’. Fine! Call me when you have gotten rid of the giant in your life and decided to become emotionally available.”
“Oh really,” I said. “Is it too much to ask for a man who does not go completely useless at the first sign of difficulty?”
But Jonathan was already pulling out of the apartment complex lot in his rolling add for Stillwell and German engineering.
There was probably some food back up in the apartment — ramen noodles at least — but since it was summer again, my roommates Peter and Lara had decided that they were once again madly in love, or at least highly attracted to each other when they were naked. I had no reason to believe I wouldn’t go back upstairs to find them in flagrante. The apartment was damn near unusable when they were rutting.
I climbed into the Jag. “You’re going to have to move your shovel hand for me to shift.”
The giant folded his hand over his chest and I reversed, sticking my head out the window to see if there was anyone behind me. The rear view mirror was blocked by his butt.
“Is that your boyfriend?” the giant asked, in his low, sleepy voice. I tore out of the parking lot. I wondered if the Beltway would be impossible this time of day.
“Is. Was. Very fine line, isn’t it?” I said. I risked the Beltway, noting on the exit that having a giant in one side of your car really affected the handling.
“I’m sorry to have caused an argument.”
“Oh,” I said, and waved a hand towards him, jumping into the fast lane, cutting off some guy in a BMW, who gave me the finger. I returned the favor. “Jonathan will file some petitions and collect some votes and eventually decide that the passenger seat of his Volvo looks better with me in it.”
“You’re in a hurry,” observed the giant. He couldn’t see out the window, so presumably he could feel the speed in his over-sized bones.
“That’s life,” I replied. I hopped off the interstate and parked in front of the grocery store. Even though the giant was in the car, I locked it when I got out. Here in northern Virginia, whack jobs would take everything that wasn’t nailed down, even if it had a giant in it.
In the store, I made the four dollars and twenty three cents I had in the pocket of my skirt go as far as possible. It only occurred to me when I returned that I might ethically need to share with the giant.
“I’m sorry, this is all I have,” I told him, and lifted the bag with the loaf of bread and skittles in it. “It’s all four bucks would do, since I wasn’t feeling brazen enough to write a bad check this week.”
“I’m okay,” the giant said. “I ate two days ago and I’m not hungry again yet.”
“What, some lost hiker?” I asked.
“Your mother,” the giant said.
I glanced over at him. He wasn’t smiling but one of his eyebrows was raised above his small black eyes.
“I wondered why she hadn’t called,” I replied. “Thanks for that.”
On the way back from the store, we got pulled over. The cop came around to the driver’s side and asked for my license and registration.
“It’s in the glove box,” I said.
The cop looked at me, and then at the giant, who was, as I mentioned before, taking up the entire passenger seat compartment as well as the non existent backseat.
“It’s your responsibility to keep the registration in an accessible place,” the cop said. “Is that giant in a seat-belt?”
“Yes,” I said, because there was no way for the cop to confirm. But he wrote me a ticket anyway. Speeding, right taillight out — it was a day that ended with a Y, so of course one of the Jag’s taillights wasn’t working — failure to produce registration. It was going to cost me a fortune that I didn’t have, so I swore continuously as I pulled back onto the highway. Then I realized I was headed towards the apartment, which was probably still being used as a palace of sexual splendors since Peter and Lara expected me to be at the show all evening with Jonathan. And so I swore some more. I was homeless, poor, and the small pleasure that was afforded to me, my Jag, was pulling to the right because of the weight of the giant.
“What do you do?” the giant asked. Conversationally.
“I’m an intern for a congressman,” I said.
“What does an intern do?” the giant asked. He seemed to find the question rhetorical, because he kept going. “There’s no inherent meaning in the word. Other than unpaid. Is there? If you had children and they asked what you did, you would have to answer ‘interning’ and I’m not sure what that means.”
“Yes, thank you for validating my life,” I said. “Thank you so much for breaking your long held silence to give that unexpected speech about the futility of my life. Yes, I am an intern. No, I have no idea what that means. It means that one day I will be able to be an aide like Jonathan and I will get paid for doing what I love.”
“And what is it that you love?”
“What are you, Dr. Phil? Politics. I love politics. My father was in politics
as well.” He was still looking at me, possibly because he couldn’t turn his head, so I said, “What about you? You’d have to tell your children that you were a giant in a Jaguar, and I don’t know what that means either.”
“I do not either,” he said. “When are you going to let me out?”
“Let you out?” I sputtered. “How do you figure?”
“Cut the roof off,” the giant said.
There was no raised eyebrow to indicate that he was joking this time. “Are you serious?”
I realized I had missed my exit and that I was, in fact, heading towards Maryland at an appallingly efficient pace. “Look. Giant. This Jaguar is the only thing in the whole world that I love.”
“I thought you loved politics.”
“Oh, snap,” I said irritably, because I always got lost in Maryland and I was in no mood to be lost. Even if D.C. was a cesspool, it was my cesspool and I knew where I was in it. “Did you not see my dinner of bread and Skittles? Trust me, there is no other reason I would be doing something for free.”
The giant considered this. “Your boyfriend said that you would go to obscene lengths to avoid saying ‘no’.”
“Oh, so now you believe him?” I was on some parkway that was probably incredibly attractive if you knew where you were. Taxpayers’ dollars had gently sculpted the landscape on either side of the road and the speed limit was set to grandmother. “Let’s do some deep psychological discussion on you instead.”
“I’m not the one with a giant in my car.”
“You are the giant in the car!”
“I’m the victim here,” the giant said. Again with the one raised eyebrow.
I exited off the parkway, which dumped me immediately into a seedy neighborhood that was primarily populated by Shell gas stations. “So, what. You expect me to embrace what I really want to do? Newsflash, imaginary creature. I don’t know what it is I really want to do.”
“Sometimes,” the giant managed a shrug that made the passenger seat groan, “That’s all you really have to admit.”
I jerked the Jaguar into one of the eight million Shell stations and auto garages. Everyone was staring at me, the frazzled intern and the giant in the Jaguar. “If I stopped now, I would have to change everything about me.”
The giant blinked at me. “Some things are an option. Some things aren’t.”
For the second time that day, someone tapped on my driver’s side window. It was one of the grease monkeys.
I rolled down the window.
“Can I help you?” the service station guy asked.
“I doubt it,” I said. “But it’s worth a try. Can you cut off my roof?”
Author’s Note: For the common prompt!
image of jag from rustyheap.