This week, we're going back to see what's going on with Wil and Gramps in Just Shut Up and Drive, one of my latest WIPs.
The last time we were following these two, they got to a Denny's restaurant and met a little girl. Stil wondering who she is? We'll find out more later on but here's a glimpse into this twist in the plot.
A few minutes later, they were ushered to a table in the back of the restaurant close to the kitchen. Since they both knew what they wanted, they were able to place their order right away. Gramps got a bottomless pot of coffee and Wil got an iced tea, also bottomless although he never had more than one glass.
Wil sipped his tea then leaned back in his seat. He noticed the little girl and her…parents?…sitting at the end booth a few tables away from where they were sitting. Dakota was sitting on one side of the table coloring in an activity book, and the couple was sitting together on the other side. They weren’t even talking to her, completely engaged in their conversation. The whole scene felt so wrong and tugged on Wil’s heartstrings. Why did some people have kids when they obviously had no interest in being parents?
His attention was snapped back to Gramps who was pouring another cup of coffee. “Hey! Take it easy on the coffee, Gramps,” he said. “Just because they call it ‘bottomless’ doesn’t mean you have to take them up on it.”
“Stop nagging me,” Gramps said, stirring two creamers and two packets of sugar into his cup. “Excuse me in indulging in a few cups of good coffee. Stuff here is better than anything you’ve tortured us with back home.”
“Nice. I only started making it because my gut couldn’t take the Army-style coffee you were making.”
“At least mine gets ya goin’. With yours I may as well have been just drinking decaf.”
“Fine, whatever. Just don’t suck back too much because we aren’t stopping every five minutes for bathroom breaks.”
Gramps looked Wil in the eyes and slurped his coffee as loudly as he could.
“Very mature, old man,” Wil said. “If you keep this up, we won’t need to stop in Selkirk for a coffee break. I swear, I-”
He stopped as commotion from the little girl’s table made him turn around.
“Dakota, you stupid kid,” Mr. Lynch Man yelled. “You spilled pop all over my new jacket. You better hope this comes out or you’re buyin’ me a new one.”
He flicked the back of Dakota’s head with his knuckles then stormed off to the bathroom. Two waitresses and the hostess sopped up the spill while the woman with the little girl lectured her.
“Oh, Dakota, honey. This is why we don’t take out to nice places. You’re so clumsy and thoughtless. You’ve embarrassed us yet again. And you’ve upset Uncle Frank so much, he probably won’t even want to stay.”
Okay, uncle and aunt, Wil thought. But still. All that fuss over a spilled drink? Even Gramps didn’t make a big deal about things like that.
“I didn’t do it on purpose,” Dakota said, her lower lip trembling. “It was an accident.”
“Well your ‘accident’ got all over your uncle’s jacket. Now we’re going to have to go shopping instead of eating. That makes me grouchy.”
That’s it. “Gramps, I’ll be right back.”
“Be careful, son.”
Wil swung his legs around and walked over to the booth. One of the waitresses was finishing up wiping the table down with a cloth and putting out new utencils. “Excuse me?” he said to her before she turned to leave. “I’d like to get the little girl another drink and have it charged to our bill.”
The plump aunt sputtered a laugh and rolled her eyes. “Excuse me but that’s really not necessary.”
Wil kept his eyes on the waitress while he spoke to Dakota’s aunt. “Well, I’m not getting it for you so what you think is necessary doesn’t matter.”
She gasped. Suddenly Frank was up in Wil’s face. “Well it matters to me. The kid don’t need another drink, see? She’s just gonna spill it again anyway.”
“Accident’s happen, right Uncle Frank?” Wil stuck his chest out and moved in closer to Frank. “Besides, it’s just a glass of pop. What’s the harm in it?”
Frank made a fist then noticed most of the other patrons around them staring. He cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his overly gelled, jet-black hair. “Yeah, right. No harm in it. Thanks. Now get lost.”
Wil made his way back to their table. He lifted his iced tea to his lips to put the moisture back into his mouth, his hands shaking.
Gramps applauded, as did a few other people around them. Red flushed to Wil’s cheeks. “That was one of the best things I’ve seen, son. Good for you. I’m proud of ya, even if you do look like you’re about to crap your pants.”
“I was fine up until I saw him about to deck me,” Wil said, his hands steadying. “I hope we don’t go out and find some grunt guys wanted to bust up our knee caps or something.”
The waitress brought their meals to the table. As she put Wil’s chili and garlic bread down in front of him, she said, “That was a pretty cool thing you did over there. They come in here all the time and, well, that’s the first time anyone has ever said anything.”
Wil nodded. “Just make sure she gets the bottomless glass of pop, right?” he said with a wink.
“Already taken care of. And no charge for the food. It’s on us.” The waitress smiled and went back to the kitchen.
Gramps sprinkled pepper on his eggs. “Gotta say, I’m starting to like hanging out with you.”
“Sure, sure. Wait five minutes and you’ll be barking a different tune. So? Does free food taste better?”
“I’d say so.”
They ate their lunch in silence, then sat back nursing the rest of their drinks. Wil looked over at Dakota’s table and noticed she wasn’t there. He turned his head around the room.
“She went to the bathroom a few minutes ago,” Gramps said, downing the rest of his fourth cup of coffee. “I saw her walk by while you were finishing up.”
“I hope she’ll be okay.” Wil shoved his empty glass over.
“You can only do so much, son.”
They got up and made their way back to the car. When Wil opened his door, he felt a cold slosh fill his stomach. “Oh geez. I forgot to lock up the car before we went in.”
Gramps stretched up to shout over the roof. “You were seriously scared someone was gonna steal this hunk of crap?”
“Without this hunk of crap, we have no way to get wherever it is you’re taking me. Now shut up and get in the car, old man.”
“Don’t tell me to shut up. I still owe ya one, remember? I have no worries about making it hurt.”
Wil closed his eyes and got in. Seat belts were buckled, engine was turned over and the radio turned on. Gramps made sure to switch it back to Easy Listening. Ten minutes down the highway, a putrid smell filled the car.
“Oh for the love of all that’s good in the world,” Wil said, opening all the windows. “What did I tell you about that stupid Grand Slam?”
“That wasn’t me.”
“Well it wasn’t me and there’s only two of us in here.”
“Son, if I’d let that one go I’da claimed it. And most likely asked to stop to clear things out.”
Wil frowned. “Maybe someone hit a skunk.”
“Nah. That smell is in the car cuz it got better when you opened the windows.
“Ga! That’s just brutal! Did you take your shoes off or something?”
“Sorry, son, but you’re the room clearer in the foot odor department.”
Wil put his finger under his nose. “I have to figure out what that is or I’m not going to make it to the next stop. It smells like…”
“Puke,” a tiny voice came from the back seat. “I’m sorry.”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I hope you join us again next week. Thanks for spending a few moments with me today. Oh! And HERE'S the master list of all participants in this week's Sweet Saturday Sample.
See you next time!