Fiction-Excerpt from a Novel:
A bright yellow sports car roared up. It was low to the ground, long and lean, all angles and geometric shapes. The driver’s side door lifted up like an insect’s wing, and a valet stepped out, obviously thrilled. He reverently handed George the keys. “Here you are Mr. Green. Great car,” he gushed.
Lisa had to choke back a laugh. She’d expected something more age appropriate, like a black sedan by some German car maker. But no, George had opted for pure midlife crisis.
George lifted the passenger side door open and held her hand as she awkwardly lowered herself into the deep seat. He closed her door, and the car purred around her like a wild beast.
He stepped around to the driver’s side, got in, and turned on the stereo. Classic rock poured out of the speakers. Grabbing a looped handle, he pulled his door closed, sealing them in. He put the car into gear, hit the gas, and the car coughed and stalled. Visibly gritting his teeth, he shifted into first and stepped on the accelerator, more gently this time. Slowly, the Lambo started to move. “She can be a bit temperamental,” he muttered.
After a moment, he relaxed. “How do you like the ride?”
She could barely hear him over the blaring stereo.
“I’m sorry, what?” She cupped her hand around her ear to catch his words.
The car jerked to a halt at an intersection, and he turned down the music.
“My Lambo. My Lamborghini. Bought this baby last year.” He stroked the steering wheel lovingly. “Cost me six hundred grand. I got a great deal. It’s been a dream of mine to own one, and finally I reached a point in my life where it just made sense. You know? And it’s quite practical, really. You’d be surprised how useful it is to have in the city. The V twelve engine is incredible. But it swills fuel like a frat bro chugs beer.” He laughed. “I read that in Car and Driver.”
Cars didn’t interest her in the least. Lisa hadn’t driven since she was sixteen and borrowed her mom’s car without asking. Her mother called the police and had Lisa arrested.
“I can hit three hundred and fifty kilometers per hour—oh, sorry,” he said. “When I’m in this baby, I go metric. That’s two hundred and seventeen miles per hour. Sometimes I take her to the track and let her fly. Amazing. All that power. I always think of this one line in the marketing materials that really touched me. It said the vehicle is made with a unique material—passion. You can feel that passion, can’t you Lisa?”
Lisa found herself in awe of his complete lack of self-awareness. She flipped down the car’s sun visor and looked in the small mirror. A familiar face looked back. Eyes open a little too wide, a bland, sweet smile on an amiable face. A face that made other people, particularly men, feel important and smart. It was a mask of survival. She was starting to feel nauseated. Digging in her purse, she found her lipstick and touched it up.
“Don’t worry babe, you look amazing,” said George, glancing at her. “So, I have to ask. What did you and the mayor talk about?”
Lisa ignored the question, and looked out the tinted passenger window as Portland flew by in a blur.
“Earth to Lisa? You still with me?” asked George, placing his hand over hers.
She pulled her hand away and crossed her arms over her chest. “Sorry. What did you ask again?”
“What were you and the mayor talking about?”
She imagined telling George the truth. Like he’d believe it, she thought. Instead, she kept it simple. “She said she’d call security if I didn’t leave.”
“I’m not surprised. She’s all about the straight and narrow. Law and order. That’s what she campaigned on, but we all know it was really the sympathy vote after her husband’s death that won her the election.”
Lisa stared at George, letting this sink in.
He continued, “Ben Salder died just a few weeks before. Mugged and murdered. They found his body in a parking garage. Really terrible. Her daughter was away at some private school. Rumors were that she refused to come home. Left the mayor to handle it alone.”
Lisa gasped and started coughing.
“I wonder what happened to the daughter. Are you okay?” He handed Lisa a flask from his jacket pocket. “Here, take a sip.”
She opened the flask and took a long drink, not pausing to breathe.
“Hey, slow down,” said George.
Lisa tried to steady her breath but couldn’t catch it. Her mother had used her father’s death to win an election. And she’d lied about me. She lied.
Pamela Statz has worked in media and advertising in San Francisco and Portland for Lucasfilm, WIRED, Nike, and Wieden+Kennedy. She currently splits her time between Portland and Manzanita, Oregon with her husband Justin Graham and their dog Hooper. Thorn City is her first novel. It will be available from Ooligan Press on May 14, 2024. pamelastatz.com