The Lunch Hour
 

 

Home
Current Issue
Additional New Mysteries
Readers Recommend
Small Press
Featured Authors
Books In Audio
Hard Cover Archives
Submission Guidelines
Short Stories
Mystery links

                                       The Lunch Hour

                        By Stephanie Alexis Bonvissuto
 

     They only had sixty minutes so they got started right away. Grabbing
their purses they said goodbye to the rest of the office and ran out the
door, taking the elevator to the parking lot. Kimmy insisted on driving,
leaving Pam to ride shotgun. At least she could play with the radio, then.
     "Oh oh, isn't that Sarah?"
     "You mean the little cute one from Accounting?"
      "No, no, you're thinking of that freaking backstabber from
Transcription. I'm talking about the one who got her boobs done for her
wedding."
     "Wait, those aren't real?"
     "Pam, they stand up on their own. Gimme a break."
     They backed out, remembering to wave at Sarah (hence and forever to be
known as Ms. Silly-cones) and made a right out of the lot, taking Crumwell
onto Main. It being a payday Friday the strip was packed. Luckily they both
opted for direct deposit so they could go right to the stores.
     "Oh my god, a two-for-one sale!"
     "Told you, " Kimmy said.
     "But will they have sweats?"
     "Pam, it's a sports store. Of course they're going to have sweats."
     And they did, too, in every shade of every color, from bubble-gum pink
to midnight-blue. Given the time of year Kimmy suggested an autumn motif
which Pam hated but deferred to in silence. Then they found the footwear
department. Pam not only picked up a pair of cross-trainers for herself but
got her kids a pair each. At the register Kimmy rolled her eyes.
     "Wait 'til you have your own rug-rats," Pam warned.
     They were out the door by 12: 17. By 12: 22 they were parked in front
of Handy Hank's Hardware, Kimmy beating out a plumber for the closest
parking space. "We're on a lunch hour," she explained as she got out. The
guy gave them the finger anyway.
     It took an extra minute or two in here to find the right item, one of
those multi-tools that can fold into anything except your boyfriend or
husband. Pam made a mental note that she had to get a bag of Deer-Away
before the weekend. That's when the landscapers were supposed to be putting
in the new bushes. Looks, as a kid she loved "Bambi" like everyone else but
she'd rather become a card-carrying NRA member chowing down on venison
cheese steaks before letting another one of those four-footed fleabags chomp
through another thousand dollars worth of shrubs like last year.
     And speaking of eating, there was a Saucy Sally's right next door.
     "Drive-through." Kimmy announced.
     "Look at the line! Go inside."
     "Trust me, there lines inside are worse. At least the cars are moving.
Salad?"
     "With Balsamic," Pam sighed. "Oh, and extra fries."
     "All those carbs?"
     "Look at my hips. It's too late for me."
      It was a minor miracle that all the Saucy Susie customers in front of
them not only knew what they wanted to eat but had the right change in hand;
likewise, the gods must have been smiling upon them as the workers actually
got their order right on the first try.
     Kimmy had to stretch herself out the window to take the bags. "Wow, you
see the guy shaking the fries. Yum-my!"
     Pam tore into her Twin Topper Super Burger. "What would Dennis say?"
     "Dennis wouldn't care."
     "You mean you wouldn't care."
    "Nothing wrong with looking, just don't touch the merchandise," Kimmy
said. Then she added, "Oh, I'm sorry hon."
     Pam listlessly picked at some limp lettuce.
     Kimmy gave her a hug. "It's going to be all right. Isn't that what
we're doing?"
     "I guess," Pam said.
     "Well, I know, so buckle up your butt, girlfriend!"
     Bounding out of Susie's she cut across three lanes to beat the traffic
light and sped up the ramp out onto Route 334, Northbound. Cars cursed with
their horns and she responded with a one finger wave. Pam waited for her
heart to sink back down her throat before debating saying anything. In the
end she just shook her head. She was crazy but that was Kimmy - either you
loved her or got out of her way.
     Four miles up 334 was the rest area. Kimmy rolled in, snatching the
first available spot. The place looked quiet, just a couple of sleeping
semis, a handful of cars left behind by their carpooling owners, and, all
the way down at the opposite end with its rear sticking out from behind a
corrugated metal DPW shed, a single cherry red pick-up.
     "Wow, you weren't kidding," Kimmy whispered.
     "I told you," Pam said, voice choked off to a squeak. "Remember the day
of the blackout and we all got sent home early? I thought I'd stop by the
deli and pick Lou up a wedge and a beer, surprise him on the site. But he
wasn't around and no one knew where he was. I thought they were acting funny
but couldn't figure out why. So I drove home and passed here and that's when
I saw the truck."
      "You'd think he'd be a little more subtle."
     "Yeah, you'd think that," Pam echoed. "At least he picked a new place
this time."
     Kimmy asked softly, "So what to do want to do?"
     After a black pause Pam said, "Let's change."
     Two minutes later they had the sweats over their work clothes and new
sneakers covering on their stocking feet. Without a sound they exited the
Kimmy's car and walked around the back of the brick building that contained
the bathrooms. A sign outside reminded them to Be Polite, Wash your hands
right!
     Slipping around the structure they threaded their way amongst empty
picnic benches and deserted dog runs, staying close to the tree line.
     As they came out directly across from the truck Kimmy got down to her
hands and knees.
     "Do we really have to crawl?" Pam complained.
     "Do you want to just walk on over and knock on the door?"
     "I wouldn't mind knocking on her head."
     They scuttled out into the open and across the lot. Had an errant
driver pulled in for a pee-pee stop there would have been nowhere to hide..
Luckily they were three weeks passed the summer season and it was the middle
of the day. Not even the pervs or state troopers would show up until later.
     "Ow!'
     "What?"
     "I broke a nail."
     "Shhh!"
     "It hurts!"
     "Look, we're almost there!"
     Pam blew some lacquered locks from her eyes. The truck was only a few
feet away now. The bed was loaded down with paint cans, ladders, steel
toolboxes, coils of rope and tarps. Confederate flag stickers covered the
rear bumper.
     "Hey, did you guys get new tires?" Kimmy whispered.
     "Yeah, last month. I told you."
     "No, you didn't. Where did you go? Me and Dennis are looking for some."
     "I'm positive I told you," Pam said. "We got them the same day we had
the headlights fixed and got that wax job."
     "Hmmm," Kimmy hummed. "Looks like the shocks might need some repair."
     As they approached the back of the vehicle they could hear music
leaking out the steamed-up windows, vintage Zep or maybe Sabbath, something
metal and crunchy.
They slid up directly behind the truck. Had Jerry suddenly had the urge to
start the engine and throw it into Reverse they would have been instant road
kill.
     But as it sounded like he had other things on his mind Kimmy took out
the multi-use tool, found the needle nose pliers and tapped the driver's
side brake light until the plastic covering cracked. Pam cocked an ear to
see if the noise stopped from up front but it didn't. Jesus, how could any
one person make such a din?
     Knocking out the remaining glass, Kimmy broke the inner casing until it
fell apart. Carefully she unscrewed the bulb out and yanked its socket
clear. Then she snipped it clean off, leaving wires trailing behind it.
     "Are you sure this is going to work?" Pam whispered.
     "How should I know? I saw it in a movie once."
     "Really? What was it called?"
     "Fatal Lethal Instinct or something. I don't remember. It starred that
cute guy from Boston Legal."
     "You mean William Shatner?"
     "I said the cute guy, not the old fart."
     Pam nodded, letting the girl do her thing. Careful of her nails, Kimmy
stripped the plastic covering off, exposing a good two-to-three inches of
naked wiring.
     The noise up front stopped, the truck growing still.
     Pam's heart banged in her chest. She looked over at Kimmy and Kimmy
looked back at her.
     Then the next song began and giggles floated out the windows.
     Pam remembered to breath. "Gimme that," she hissed, snatching the wires
out of Kimmy's hand. Hopping around to the side of the truck, she popped the
gas cap, screwed the lid off and feed the wires straight down the dark
gullet within.
     Kimmy tugged at her sleeve. "Um, I think we should go."
     They crawled back to the woods, picked their way through the trees and
finally made their way to the car. Sixty seconds later they were driving
away.
     For the longest time neither one said anything.
     Then Pam said, "Know what I want to do? I want to call him, right now
on his cell."
     Kimmy paid her a glance. "You want to tell him what we did?"
     Pam blinked. "No," she finally said. "I want to tell him the house is
on fire and he better come home quick."
     They both looked across the car at each other from across the car and
broke up.
     It was 12: 53.