Friday, April 29, 2011

11/365 -- Playlist Story -- inspired by Serpents en flammes by Etienne Charry

The Oldsmobile, engine knocking, slowly rolled to a stop all on the deserted Nevada highway.

"You forgot to gas up, didn't you," said Mikey in the back seat. Dave looked at him through the rearview mirror. Mikey took up the entire breadth of the seat. He shifted his massive weight; decrepit springs tried vainly to call uncle.

"We'd be fine if you hadn't insisted on running the air conditioner full blast," said Dave, rather peeved.

"I'm a polar bear, Dave, or haven't you noticed?" Mikey laid a paw on the back of Dave's seat and squeezed the aged leather menacingly.

"That shit doesn't work with me," said Dave, rolling his eyes, "I'm not a gambler you can intimidate. I know you too well." Mikey sat back, scratched his belly, and looked off into the distance. Dave turned his attention to the car's GPS unit. "There's nothing to complain about anyway. This says the next gas station is a mile from here, just over that little hill."

Mikey grunted. Dave got out of the car and took the keys. He peered in at Mikey, who shifted to avoid eye contact. Dave tapped on the back window with the keys. Mikey lunged at him, rocking the car.

"Oh come on," said Dave, "it's a fifteen minute walk there and fifteen back. It's gonna take at least a half hour to bring back gas. The car's going to get hot and I don't want to leave you in it. Even if you crack a window it will be stifling with all your fur." Dave took hold of the handle to the back door but before he could open it, Mikey slapped down on the lock. Dave unlocked it again with the remote, tried to open the door, but Mikey held his paw pad over the lock.

"Call a tow truck!" bellowed Mikey.

"There's no tow trucks out here! Where in the middle of nowhere Mikey!"

"They could bring one from Vegas!"

"It would take hours. Let's just walk to gas station. It will be over in no time, I promise."


"You are such a child! Get out of the car now!"

"Harrughhhh!" Mikey laid his paws on his belly and narrowed his eyes at Dave. Dave opened the door and pointed at the ground. Mikey waited the several seconds the maintenance of his ursine dignity required before sliding out the door. He stood up on his back legs and slammed the door shut. "This is going to get my Tony Lama's dusty," he said, baring his teeth.

"Yeah, you know what? You can afford to buy more. In fact, you already have dozens. Custom-made! Let's get going."

"These are my favorite pair."

"That's nice." Dave walked briskly, and Mikey lumbered behind. "You gotta walk faster buddy."

"I told you I didn't want to walk."

"Maybe if you did like other bears and walked on all fours--"

"I'm not other bears, and I don't want to get my hands dirty."

"They're not hands. You don't have thumbs."

"If I had thumbs, I wouldn't need you to drive me around."

"And if you hadn't stolen that money from that undercover detective, I wouldn't have to drive you to the state line."

"I didn't steal it. It was a misunderstanding."

"You stole it."

"He just misunderstood that if he didn't give it to me, I'd shove a claw in his sternum."


They continued in silence, except for their footfalls and Mikey's heavy breathing. Finally they crested the hill to see...nothing but more dry road and dirt. Dave stopped. Mikey was several paces behind him.

"Why did you stop?" asked Mikey, huffing.

"It's not there."


"It's not there Mikey!"

"You better not be messing with me, because you know what I like to do to people who mess with me Dave."

"I'm not! See for yourself!"

Mikey came up next to Dave and looked around. "There's nothing there."

"I knooow!" Dave put his hands up to forehead. "We are so screwed."

"No we're not. Just call a tow truck."

"We can't go back to Vegas Mikey."

"Sure we can. We can lie low for awhile at the Bellagio if we need to. The manager owes me several favors."

"No, we can't. Mikey, I informed on you."


"I'm sorry buddy. I was part of that sting." Dave crossed his arms and took a step back out of the way of Mikey's vast reach. Mikey cocked his head to one side, and knitted his brows.

"I don't understand."

"I couldn't let it go on, the way it was corrupting you. I figured maybe you would do a couple of months in prison, and then you would get out and do the act again, and be back to your old self. And when we were there in the hotel room, and you had the detective's head underwater in the bathtub, I just, I just knew, that this is what you loved to do, and that you wouldn't change, because, this is who you are." Dave crouched and held his hands over his head. Mikey stood, perplexed.

"You get me. Wow, you really get me," said Mikey.

"What?" Dave tentatively stood up.

"You betrayed me, and I won't forget that. But I appreciate that you understand who I am, as a person."

"As a polar bear."

"As a person. Let's not be prejudiced."

"As a person," said Dave. Mikey slapped him gently on the back and attempted a smile, which amounted to him baring his teeth and gums.

"Come on," said Mikey, "Let's try the next hill. Maybe the GPS was off. I will get you back though. You won't know when or where, but it will happen." And they walked off together, friends.

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