I chronicled a few of my humorous misadventures in the book, AFTER HOURS. The following story is an exerpt from a chapter in the AFTER HOURS sequel due 2011. I hope you enjoy it. |
You could tell on the drive to Tijuana that there was going to be trouble on this trip, a journey that began in Newport Beach and would eventually conclude at Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico. George and I rode in back while Berman drove his Oldsmobile four-door sedan with Krego riding shotgun. Just north of San Diego, a bright afternoon sun went behind some clouds, and Krego decided to put up his sun visor. He flipped it half-heartedly, which only returned it about halfway; then finsihed the job with a visious uppercut. Something made an audible cracking sound, Krego pulled the visor back down to investigate. The built-in mirror sported a top-to-bottom zigzag crack.
All four of us worked in the same office building directly across MacArthur Boulevard from Orange County Airport (SNA). Krego had been in sales all of his career, and now in his mid-50s was selling commercial real estate. He was a large, forceful, opinionated, and loud individual. George (his surname), early 30s, was a consultant working mostly with human resources departments in the thriving Orange County medical electronics industry. Mainly, he did some headhunting and background checking for new employees. Slightly built, short, and immaculately dressed, he always walked around with forced grin and cheerfulness complete with insincere (and un-funny) humor. The guy had a big ego, big office, big Cadillac with vanity plates, and one of the biggest salt water fish tanks I ever saw outside of a public aquarium. He always acted supremely confident and in control, but was terribly insecure. He got into Amway (on the side) with a former partner. The partner hit it rich and left their business, but George floundered like every other Amway salesman I knew. Berman, 25, worked for George and was treated like a lackey and whipping boy. He was large, but a soft, fudge-hammer kind of guy with curly hair and a wispy moustache. Berman talked constantly about his wonderful years as a Boy Scout, and how he was going to become rich selling Amway as well. I think he was gay. Other than George paying for this fishing trip, I couldn't imagine why Berman would want to spend any non-working time with his abusive boss. Amway must have been the connection.
"Aw, damn, look at that," said Krego sarcastically with not an ounce of concern or remorse. "That's too bad. Not my fault though, they should make 'em stronger. I ain't takin' seven years for that."
"Krego, you bastard! You broke my mirror!" Berman was very upset, but used a whining tone.
"Not a big deal. Nobody uses 'em anyway," Krego sniffed.
"How about it's my car? How'd you like me to do the same in your car?"
"See, that would never happen on account there's no way I'd ever let your fat ass in my car."
"You better hope not. I"ll do more than break a mirror!" Berman was getting angrier by the minute. "Why in the world did you do that? What's wrong with you?"
Krego turned and exchanged glances with George. They both started laughing frustrating Berman even more.
"You know what?" said Berman. "You guys are both ratbastards!"
Krego and George laughed even more followed by a chorus of eeewwww... Krego pulled a cigar from his pocket and lighted it with an old-fashioned Zippo. His exhaled smoke was intentionally directed at Berman, a non-smoker like the rest of us.
"Dammit!" yelled Berman waving his hand in front of his face and swerving into the next lane of southbound I-5. Horns blared and tires screeched. A red Audi cut quickly in front of us and the driver flipped-off Berman.
"Guy doesn't even know how to properly give you the bird," said Krego. He used two fingers. Probably one of those metrosexual, sissy guys."
"That's because he's English," I said. "They use middle and index fingers."
"No kidding?" said Krego and George together. Then George, "I wonder why?"
"Guys, guys! Who gives a crap! That idiot Krego almost got us killed!" Berman was yelling, but it still came out whiny.
I answered George's question calmly. "During the Battle of Agincourt a couple thousand English longbows slaughtered 14,000 Frenchmen struggling to arm their crossbows. After that, whenever the French captured an Englishman, they cut off the two fingers he used to pull back his bowstrings. The English message of defiance was to hold up those two fingers as a screw-you gesture to remind the French how bad they got their asses kicked."
Berman was whine-shouting over my narrative. "Guys, screw the history lesson! Get that damned cigar out of my car! There's no smoking allowed in here!"
"Are you sure that's what you want?" asked Krego while still directing smoke at Berman.
"Well, okay, if that's what you want. I'm getting bored with it anyway." Krego took one last long drag, blew the smoke in Berman's face, and threw to cigar out the window. "There you go, Berman."
"You guys are really buttheads!" Berman was seething and waving his hand in front of his face. "Now my clothes and car are going to stink. Thanks a lot!"
Behind us a silver Mercedes-Benz convertible began swerving and blowing his horn. The driver's face projected red-hot anger. It turned out Krego's stogie landed in the convertible's back seat. The driver also spoke into his mobile phone--the kind that used to be called a car phone--and five miles or so later, a highway patrol car pulled behind us with his lights on.
"Uh-oh, Berman," said George laughing. "Now you're in for it."
"Yeah, you big dummy," echoed Krego. "Now you've done it."
"I didn't do nuthin'," whined Berman pulling over and sweating bullets. The patrol car and the convertible pulled over behind us.
The officer spoke to the driver of the convertible for several minutes, and restrained him from getting out. He walked up to Berman's open window, "License and registration, please."
"See if I can get my cigar back," said Krego.
"Would you please shut up!" yelled Berman.
"What?" said the officer.
"Sorry, officer, not you," said Berman dripping sweat. "What did I do?" Berman was very nervous; on the edge of panic.
"You threw something out the window, and almost caused an accident."
"Way to go, Berman!" said Krego snickering along with George. "You big dummy!"
"Yeah, we told you not to do that," giggled George.
I thought Berman was going to pass out. "Would you two please shut up! Officer I didn't throw anything out." Pointing at Krego, "He did!"
"Well, Sunshine, I didn't want to, but you told me too; so it's all your fault," Krego replied, he and George getting a big kick out of the situation. Berman almost started to cry.
The officer looked at Krego for confirmation. "Is that right, sir?"
Krego nodded. "Yeah, I did it. The big pansy was having a fit and driving erratically. I did it for the safety of everyone on the road, ours' included." Krego, proud of the spin he put on the situation, looked sideways at George. They continued to snicker and giggle.
The officer looked directly at Krego. "Sir, I'll have to cite you for contributing to reckless operation of a moving vehicle."
Krego snorted and said calmly and forcefully, "No way, pal. Whaddaya gonna do if a bird craps in the guy's car? Cite the bird? I don't think so. Same thing here. You drive with the top down, you take some chances, know what I mean? Tell you what, give me a ticket for littering and we'll call it even."
Amazingly, that's what the officer did.
When the highway patrol cruiser left, and we pulled into traffic, Krego threw the ticket in Berman's lap. "There you go, puffball, I just saved you a ton of money. Take care of it."
"Screw you, Krego," said Berman as he threw the ticket back. Krego threw it out the window. "What's the matter with you?" screamed Berman. "You don't take care of that and there'll be a warrant out for you."
"Doesn't matter to me. I signed your name."
"Yeah, rookie patrolman was so shook up he didn't ask for my license. The only one he looked at was your's. Dummy messed up." Krego and George laughed heartily and high-fived.
I actually felt sorry for Berman.
A lot more happened on that journey, but that's another story. Will Berman get revenge? Stay tuned.
Copyright by Gene Myers Read more adventures in AFTER HOURS http:/strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/AfterHours.html Also available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and www.borders.com
New from Gene Myers - SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE, PublishAmerica (August 2010)
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