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The Girl in the Truck

The Girl in the Truck
            My wife, Thelma Sue, and I had watched our neighbors and friends, Ralph and Alice with amusement for 14 years. Ralph is a big man and loud; he could have easily been Hanna-Barbera’s model for Fred Flintstone. I consider myself as having a higher intelligent quotient than Barny Rubble. Perhaps my friendship with Ralph calls that into question.
            I watched the scene play out from my position trimming hedges. The chest high hedge grew between our drives. We have an unstated agreement that we take turns trimming. I stay on top of it but Ralph procrastinates.
            As I trimmed the shrubbery this morning, I watched the neighbors’ lugging out their vacation bags. After dropping them behind the truck, their two boys climbed in the back seats, each staring at their respective phones. The family was headed for Gulf Shores. Alice’s parents own a condo and Ralph had mentioned to me the other day that they were going down for the holiday weekend. “Ted,” Ralph said, “you, Thelma Sue and the munchkin girls could come along, but it’s a family get together with Alice’s family. You know how they are.”
            I nodded. I thought Alice’s parents, brother and sister were standup people, easy to get along with, nothing like Ralph who could be bullheaded--with or without a beer. I waved it off, “Hey, Ralph, I get it. No problem. I got a long honey-do list, including trimming the hedges, and then I’m planning to watch the game.” It was Labor Day weekend and college football was set to begin.
            “Roll Tide. We’re going to scare the hell out of those tree-hugging-environmental-wacko USC Cali-horney-yeans,” Ralph added several different syllables to California.
            “Yeah, that’s what the line says.”
            “Are you moving a little money through Vegas, my friend?” Ralph asked.
            I smiled and winked, “Of course not. We’re in Alabama. Gambling’s illegal.” That discussion took place last week.
            Ralph drove a 4-year-old red Ford XLT crew cab F-150 with a Gator FX Tonneau cover. Alice arrived rolling a suitcase behind her. When he dropped the tailgate, and lifted the cover to load the truck, both Alice and Ralph reacted with a surprised shout.
            That shout was so alarming, I stopped trimming and moved around to the end of the hedge.  I still couldn’t see what caused their reaction. They didn’t run; they didn’t reach for their phones; they didn’t hurry the boys out of the truck. The next thing that happened is Alice slapped Ralph across the face, “You bastard, did you forget to empty your truck last night?”
            Well, I remember last night. After work the bowling team met at the Upper Deck for a few brewskis. I left early. Thelma Sue likes to rein in my fun. I heard Ralph’s truck’s rumble in the drive later as I was getting ready for bed.
            I had no idea what was in his truck until it rolled out, I mean, she rolled out. She was young, blonde, in panties and a t-shirt. The t-shirt rolled up as she rolled over and sat groggily on the lowered tailgate. It was one of those thong bikinis you see at Victoria’s Secret in the Galleria or in their catalog. I got a good peek. She looked up at Ralph and Alice and then vomited.
            Ralph answered the slap in his best pussy-whipped apology voice, “Damn, Alice, I didn’t bring her home. I don’t know who she is.”
            I’m not sure what the blonde said then, but she wiped her mouth and mumbled something, I think she said, “Hi, Ralph.” Alice reached down and grabbed her aluminum tennis racket; it had been splattered with puke. With a backhand that would make Maria Sharapova pleased, she swung it into Ralph’s chin. The blonde just sat there watching. I stood there, partially hidden behind the hedge, watching.
            Blood burst from Ralph’s chin as he bellowed and spun away. Alice was all over him, an overhand swing chopped down like a Florida State Seminole tomahawk. I heard the thud, cringed, and heard another painful moan from Ralph. The next swing was a low undercut, sliding up between his legs into the family jewels. No bellow now, only a squeal as he folded over. He looked like he hurt too bad to fight back and instead tried to back away.
            Alice is a good Baptist, and very patient with Ralph. What came out of her mouth was near grounds for church discipline losing all privilege to teach middle school girls in Sunday school.
            “Honey,” Ralph moaned in response, his voice not quite an octave higher, “I don’t know where she came from.” He hobbled away and somehow positioned the truck between he and Alice. “Come on, I’m a stupid fuckup, but I’m not stupid enough to put a cute girl in the back of my truck and bring her home!” By the look in Alice’s eyes, his apology was not having its intended success.
            The girl managed to teeter to her feet just missing her pool of vomit and then staggered down the driveway shielding her eyes from the bright morning sun.
            Alice looked over and saw the girl walking away, looked back to Ralph, and then lowered the racket. What he had said, did make sense to me, maybe it did to Alice. Ralph was sometimes as stupid as an empty coke can, but he’d never be so stupid as to pack up a drunk girl in the back of his truck and bring her home, revealing her in the morning for Alice.
            The girl was just about to the street when Alice’s Christianity kicked in and she hurried to stop her. In the meantime, my Thelma Sue joined me at the shrubs and asked, “What’s going on?” I just shrugged.
            Thelma hurried over to Alice and the girl. I walked over to Ralph peeking in at his twins inside the truck. They were wide eyed and wisely silent 12-year-old boys.
            “Damn, Ralph, what the hell is going on?” I asked him. He removed his Hawaiian shirt, wadded it up, and pressed it against his chin to stop the bleeding.
            “Buddy, I have no fucking idea.”

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