“Hand me dat flower, Mugsy,” I says, inspectin’ m’self in de mirror.
Mugsy hands me a pink carnation. “Sure t’ing, Boss.”
I sticks de bloom in m’ buttonhole, admirin’ de effect against m’ new suit. “Poifect,” I says. “Lula won’t know what hit her.”
“You sure we can’t come with youse, Boss?” Vinnie asks.
“Y’ kiddin’ me? Dis is a serious date!”
“But what if somet’in happens t’ youse?”
“Like what? I’m pickin’ Lula up at de library, and den we’re goin’ t’ de movies. Simple.”
“Suppose youse has an accident?”
“You boys are actin’ like my Mudder. I’m de Boss! If anyone can take care of himself, it’d be me. Mugsy! Get de door! Vinnie! Wha’d youse do with m’ keys?”
As I pulls up outside de library, I sees Lula waitin’ for me. She saunters t’ de car, and m’ heart starts skippin’. Lula’s got a figure like a corkscrew, all curves.
“Yo, doll!” I yells, flingin’ open de door.
“You’re five minutes late,” Lula says, slidin’ in besides me.
“Relax!” I replies, easin’ away from de curb. “Dere’s plenty of time.”
I didn’t figure on blowin’ a tire outside 4th and Elm. Lula’s squeals shook de roof as I guided de lurchin’ car t’ de curb.
“Relax!” I says, flippin’ on de blinkers. “I’ll fix dis tire in no time.”
“Have you ever even CHANGED a flat tire?” she asks, shakin’ her wristwatch at me.
“Shoot! How hard can it be?”
Drivers is already screamin’ ‘n‘ honkin’ as I zips along back t’ de trunk. Rummagin’ around, I digs out de spare tire, de carjack, and a skull-crackin’ sized wrench.
A tramp sittin’ on a step notices m’ difficulties. “Hey!” he yells. “For two bucks I’ll fix dat tire for youse!”
“Forget it!” I says, shruggin’ out of m’ jacket before orderin’ Lula out of de car. She climbs out, lookin’ like de queen of spades, and I sets t’ work. Insertin’ de carjack, I pumps de wheel up off de pavement and tries t’ loosen de tire.
Figures y’ can’t unbolt de wheel while it’s hangin’ in de air.
“Just two bucks!” de tramp yells.
I grit m’ teeth. I never swear in front of ladies.
As I lower de car, a van pulls in behind me and dis feller jumps out. “Hallelujah, brother!” he shouts. “Praise the Lord, this Good Samaritan is here to help you change that tire!”
I wipes at de grease stains on m’ cuff. “Look, nobody fixes dis tire but me. Got dat?”
De feller’s jaw hits de pavement. “But, man, the Lord Jesus led me straight to you!”
De feller turns t’ Lula. “You sure picked yourself one stubborn boyfriend.”
“Dat’s de truth!” de tramp calls. “He done refused me two dollars t’ change dat tire for him.”
“There’s a way that seems right to a man,” de feller sighs, shakin’ his head.
Grindin’ m’ teeth, I loosens de bolts and jacks up de car. Lula’s heels is tappin’ de funeral march on de pavement, but I ignores her, focusin’ on dat wheel. No tire’s gonna lick dis Boss, I guarantee!
Finally, with de tramp, de feller, and Lula all lookin’ on, I removes de flat. As I do, a truck pulls up and dis greasy lookin’ guy climbs out. “Say there, mister,” he calls, “I couldn’t help noticing you’d broken down. I work at a body shop, see, and so I wondered if you need any help changing--”
Roarin’, I leaps t’ m’ feet, bangs m’ knee against de car, and roars again! Grabbin’ de skull-crackin’ wrench, I waves it t’rough de air, yellin’, “Forget it! I said I’d fix dis tire, I’m goin’ t’ fix dis tire, and if any of youse don’t shut y’ yaps, I’ll shut dem m’self. Got dat?”
Dey got dat. De feller and de mechanic both speed off, while de tramp retreats t’ his step, lookin’ injured-like.
Twistin’ de screws inta de new tire, I lowers de car, den tighten’s de bolts with de skull-cracker. Replacin’ de tire cap, I t’rows de flat and de tools inta de trunk.
I wipes de sweat from m’ forehead, grinnin’ from ear t’ ear. “Come on, doll,” I says, reachin’ for m’ jacket.
“Fat chance!” Lula snorts, t’rowin’ her watch at m’ head. “I’ll take a cab home. You and I are through!”
As she storms off, de tramp shakes his head. “Dere are some t’ings dames won’t never understand.”
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