“Annie, where is we?” Nancy asked as the turned into the gas station. “Annie needs to put gas in the car and I need to check the tires” Gladys answered as she pulled in at the pump. She turned and looked at Nancy in the backseat and said “Nancy you wait there while I fill up the car.” Only she was talking to nobody. Nancy wasn’t there. Gladys looked all around then turned around and saw her standing at the gas pump with the gas cap in her hand “you put de gas in hewah.” Gladys wondered if the little girl was magic or perhaps some type of a leprechaun. She seemed to disappear and magically reappear. Gladys shook her head and filled the black Camaro with fuel.
“Annie, I’m firsty. Kin I have some sweettea?” Nancy asked as she settled back into her car seat. Gladys finished checking the air in the tires and looked skeptically at the well worn spare and said “Sure, honey. Let me pay for the fuel and I’ll get you some tea but you need to come inside with me. I don’t want to leave you sitting in the car.” Although Gladys thought to herself I would pity the fool who tried to run off with Nancy. She would probably talk them to death or tie them up and deliver them to the police department single handedly. Yes Gladys often quotes Mr. T to herself.
The older woman and the little tot walked into the convenience store that doubled as a taxidermy shop and made their way through the maze of stuffed squirrels and pheasant frozen in mid fright. They went to the coffee bar and looked to see if they had any tea. “It doesn’t look like they have any Nancy. How about some bottled tea?” Gladys said to the tot. Nancy looked in the cooler and said “no tanks. I git some at de dribe-in. Annie can we go to de dribe-in?” Gladys looked at the little girl and said “they only play movies at night. We need to be home before dark.” Nancy cocked her head to one side and rolled her eyes and said “no, Annie, the dribe-in dat sells fwench fies and milk shakes.” Gladys laughed and said “oh, sorry my mistake.” They paid the bill and got back into the Camaro. The radio came on and started blasting “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers. Gladys started singing along and so did Nancy as they rolled on toward Itty Bitty City. “Annie don’t forgit my tea” Nancy shouted over the chorus then broke out into “gonna play that funky music all night long…”
Gladys spotted the Coffee Cup Café and pulled into a spot. She rolled down her window and pushed the button. The voice came on the speaker “what can I git ya?” Gladys scanned the board and said “two iced teas, one sweet one unsweet” then from the backseat came “and an order of fries.” Gladys turned and saw Nancy standing right next to her. “Nancy is that you?” the voice asked. “Yeah! It’s me” Nancy answered. A few minutes later a girl on roller skates came out the swinging door carrying a tray. She skated over to the car and stuck her head even with the window. “Hey Nancy. Where’s your mama?” the girl asked as she handed over the Styrofoam cups containing the tea. She took a basket of fries and gave them to Nancy as the little girl answered “she at home. Dis is Annie. We goin to de Lanes to get a new cah.” The girl looked at Gladys and said “What’s wrong with this one? It looks like a pretty sweet ride to me.” Gladys nodded and patted the steering wheel “yeah it’s pretty cool but it had two flats and I have to go to Nowheresville tomorrow. Lurlene is none too happy with me though.” The girl rolled her eyes and said “yeah that’s Lurlene for you. She’s only got one mood and that’s pissed off.” Gladys nodded and paid the girl for their food and asked Nancy if her fries were too hot. The little girl was already belted in and eating her fries.
They made their way to the airport/bowling alley and pulled into the rental car lot. Gladys got out of the car and she and Nancy went into the terminal back to the familiar kiosk. Gladys watched as Lurlene handed the keys to the Dodge Dart over to a couple from Salt Creek. She wished them luck then looked at Gladys. “I need your insurance information. I also need your driver’s license and credit card.” Gladys dug into her purse and handed over her items. “There ain’t nuthin wrong with that Yugo. I took it to Hank and he said it was fine.” Gladys looked at Lurlene and sighed when Nancy spoke up and said “it’s got a pinched power steerin line. Tell Hank to wook at de line when de wheel is turned to the right.” Lurlene looked over the counter at Nancy and said “Hey Nance! What are you doin here?” Nancy grabbed Gladys’ hand and said “I’m hewah wit Annie.”
Lurlene gave Gladys a glare then handed over a paper and stated “I need you to sign this or I can’t give you another car.” Gladys took the paper and started reading. The more she read the angrier she became. She took a deep breath. She counted to ten then she counted again. “I can not sign this paper” Gladys said pushing the paper back to Lurlene. Who answered with “Well you have to sign it or I can’t give you another car.” Gladys took another cleansing breath listened for her heart beat to fade from her ears and said “that statement is full of untruths. I will not sign it.” Lurlene narrowed her eyes and shot daggers at Gladys “ain’t no lies in the paper. I guess you won’t get another car then.” Gladys shot lasers back at Lurlene “fine, give me the paper.” She read and took the pen but instead of signing she started marking through the untruths on the paper. She signed the corrected copy and handed the paper back to Lurlene. “I can’t take this. You can’t mark through this. Now I have to reprint this” Lurlene screamed at Gladys. Nancy grabbed Gladys hand and squeezed tight. She looked up at Gladys and said “chew need to talk to Ms. Kat. She fix you up Annie.” Gladys looked at Nancy and wondered what alien spacecraft had dropped her off and said to Lurlene “Is Ms. Kat here?” Just about that time a grey haired woman walked up from baggage claim and as if cued said “can I help?” Gladys turned to the woman and then looked at Nancy and said very slowly “do you know where I can find Ms. Kat?” Nancy nodded her head yes and then said “dat is Ms. Kat” and pointed to the woman.
Gladys told the woman her story still not sure how Ms. Kat could help but evidently Nancy thought she could help. Ms. Kat looked at Lurlene and said “she can mark through it if she wants and she can refuse to sign it if she wants. It’s her right. Lurlene you can’t be takin away people’s rights. Give her the new mini-van. The one with the DVD player in it.” Gladys looked at her savior and said “Ms. Kat I don’t want to pay sixty dollars extra a day for a mini van. I only want a car that runs. One that will get me to Nowhereville and back without dying and that has 5 good tires.” Ms. Kat smiled patted Nancy on the back and gave her a tickle “Ms. Gladys there is no extra charge. I am sorry you have had so much trouble with our cars. We are working on getting some new ones. Please take the mini-van and there will be no extra charge” then she turned and looked at Lurlene and said “will there, Lurlene?” Lurlene looked down at the paper and said “I’ll take you out there and show you how to work the van. Also I need to take a picture of the Camaro for the insurance claim.
Gladys was just about to let out a sigh of relief when she sucked it back in “what insurance claim?” Lurlene smirked and said “for the flat tire.”