So a guy walks into a…
Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard the cliché’ before. But this time, whoa, it was…I don’t know.
You see, I walk into this diner and I’m not kidding Elvis Presley is sitting there.
Not fake Elvis like the ones from Vegas. Las Vegas specifically. This wasn’t Las Vegas although that’s what brought me to the place. La Vega more accurately. The Vega. A lime green Chevy Vega I stole in Binghamton.
“They built the Vega from 1971 to 1977 along with the Chevy Monza, Pontiac Sunbird, Buick Skyhawk, Pontiac Astre, and Oldsmobile Starfire. I’m thinking they probably made billions of them.” My pick-up lines were never all that great and my rote memorization of Wikipedia wasn’t enough to impress Cheryl behind the counter.
I figure we all have talents in life. Some guys can talk up Cheryls real well, about as easy as I can touch the one wire to the other and coax a car’s motor to life while its owner is counting sheep.
“Know something else about them Vegas?” Cheryl asked, never making eye contact or letting up on the bubble gum in her mouth.
“What’s that?” Yes, a glimmer of my hope was showing.
“That puke green thing you rode in on,” she made eye contact, “it’s got about five cops out there checking it out right now.”
“Five.” Not good.
“Five.” She deadpanned before walking over to Elvis to refill his coffee.
This wasn’t good. There was me, Elvis, Cheryl, and a couple anonymous people in booths at the diner. If I were a cop and I’d just run plates on a Vega and it came back as stolen from Binghamton, who would I pin it on?
“So what,” Cheryl said, “you like an outlaw or something?”
“Me, what me an outlaw?” My inner car thief was showing.
“You gonna take me as your hostage and we’ll run off with the $272 in the register over there?” Cheryl smiled.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I flubbed that lie up real good.
“Look,” she hissed, “as soon as they run the plates on that car of yours it’s going to come back stolen. They’ll put two cops at the back of the place to catch you if you make a run through the kitchen. Two more will come in here after you.”
“I thought there were five of them.” I don’t know why I said that.
“Duh,” she replied, “one’s the sergeant. He’ll sit out there with the car until they can get a tow truck down here. Or he’ll take you downtown to get booked.”
Tow trucks. Mom said I should’ve been like Aunt Edna. She worked at a tow truck place. She was the one that answered the phone and then got on the radio so a driver could pull you out of a jam. Boy I was in a jam right now.
“I’m grabbing the money,” Cheryl hissed, “and Elvis is coming too. We’re your hostages whether you like it or not!”
“So you mean,” I was starting to get the picture, “if they come in here you’re going to say I was holding you hostage in here?”
“Well uh-huh,” Elvis grinned from behind his coffee.
“Where are we going?” By the looks on the cop’s faces, they were just now learning the Vega was stolen. Two of them started walking around the side of the diner.
“Vega baby!” Cheryl gleamed.
“With the stars.” Elvis grinned.
“The two of you, hold my hands!” Cheryl shouted. “If you let go before we get there you’ll die in outer space.”
It wasn’t as bad as being tased, but it didn’t feel all that great either. It was as though I could move but I couldn’t. I could see but I couldn’t. It was like I was and wasn’t part of the world. We were bound for Vega in the constellation Lyra.
Who knew there was a diner cutting circles around the star Lyra? With me, Elvis, Cheryl, and $272 bucks on board? Just us. It made me lonely.
If I could have a do over, I’d have taken that job at Aunt Edna’s. If I had, about now I’d be wheeling up to a diner to tow a stolen Chevy Vega.
“Darndest thing,” the police sergeant would have said. “They say the waitress, some kid, and an Elvis impersonator were here one minute and must have jumped out the back before we could get to the back door.”
“Really?” I’d have asked.
“Yep,” the sergeant would have continued, “the three of them and $272 bucks gone from the cash register.”
“That’s a haul.” I’d have said as I did whatever it is tow truck dudes do with chains.
“Now that we’ve hauled you up here car thief,” Cheryl shut my day dream down, “what’s the biggest thing you’ve ever hotwired?”
“Biggest.” She insisted.
“I don’t know,” I stammered, “a truck maybe?”
“That’s good uh-huh,” Elvis chimed in, “for in about eleven minutes a truck you might say is going to pull up out front.”
“And you are going to hotwire it for us,” Cheryl grinned, “because we’re your hostages and we’re on the run so you ditched that puke green car and now you’re going to throw us in a starship to take us somewhere.”
“Where?” I asked.
“Somewhere cool you know?” Cheryl smiled as she poured herself a coffee.
Somewhere cool? In the universe? What I’d have given to have been back in Binghamton.