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Emmo Is in My Car!
by Robin Slick


     On no! Emmo is in my car!
     Darn it, I only ran into the house for two minutes to unload my groceries and figured it was okay to temporarily leave the top down, but look what happens. Emmo is in my car. I mean, I did notice him out there when I drove up, but he was sitting on his own front step playing with his toy truck. Now, as I look out my kitchen window, there he is, all two hundred pounds of him, sitting behind the wheel of my delectable current-generation 3 Series Beemer, which, as the salesman proudly told me last week, is propelled by a magnificent 3.2-liter engine with 333 thundering horses coming from a single bank of naturally aspirated six cylinders. Emmo could care less. He's pretending to drive, making vroom vroom noises.
     I go flying out the door to holler at him, but I don't have the heart. His mouth hangs open all slack and drooly and his eyes go crazy joyful when he sees me.
     "Hi, pretty lady," he says.
     The only reason I even know his name's Emmo is because I always hear his mother calling out to him, just like he was a normal little boy and not a forty year old man with the mind of a six year old. Otherwise, I wouldn't know from anything. I like to keep to myself.
     "Emmo, Emmo, time to come in and have lunch. We're having bologna sandwiches today, Emmo, your favorite!" she shouts out as she stands halfway hidden behind her red front door with its cracked, peeling paint. His poor mom, she looks really beat. I don't think there's an Emmo, Sr., so she's dealing with this alone. Her face is wrinkly and sad and her shoulders are slope-like.
     I've lived on Crosby Street for six months, ever since I walked out on my husband. I've made it a point not to introduce myself to any of the neighbors. It's better that way. I want to keep to myself.
     After the divorce, I took up running. I run ten miles a day. I run and I run and I run and I don't have to think about anything. Not my husband, not the woman whose bed he shared while he was still sharing mine, not anything. The only commitment I'm ever making again is to the bank for my car payments.
     Meanwhile, my neighbor across the street, Joe Beech, waddles down the pavement, cursing and sputtering. I only know who he is because my dyslexic mailman keeps delivering me his mail instead of mine, but I've dubbed Joe the Mayor of Crosby Street due to the fact that I hear him yakking outside all the time, poking his nose in everyone else's business,. This time he's yelling because another neighbor has parked in his bogusly obtained handicapped spot. I must remember to report him to someone about that. That, and what he's doing to the two gay guys who live next door to him. They have this magnificent pear tree that's grown so tall and wide it sways against the Mayor's newly pointed brick fašade. The Mayor keeps yelling for them to take it down or have it trimmed, they tell him to pull up his pants so they don't have to stare at his fat hairy crack. One night, I watched him get out of his car and pull out a gallon full of piss-the mayor delivers pizzas at night and I figured out what he does - he uses an empty milk container to relieve himself in between deliveries-and in horror I watched as he dumped it into the offending neighbors' flower box. So I've been keeping my eye on him. He's been at it every night. I want to do something about this, too, but what? Ring the gay guys' doorbell and tell them that the Mayor is dumping pee-pee on their hydrangea? I mean, come on.
     "Emmo," I say. "I want to put the roof of the car up now. You have to get out, Emmo." I stand there with my hands on my hips, trying to look as stern as possible.
     "Get the hell out of the lady's car, you big weird creep," says the Mayor, lumbering up to him and shaking his fist.
     "Don't be mad at me, Mr. Beech," Emmo trembles. "'Member, you promised me a pizza," he adds. Then he looks at me with an expression that would freaking melt the entire continent of Antarctica and slowly opens the door and gets out, making me wince because of the force with which he slams the driver door.
     "Mr. Beech invented stuffed crust pizza," he tells me. "He's rich and famous. He says that he's going to bring me one for free sometime."
     I glare at the Mayor but he stands there, tapping his feet and whistling.
     "Yep," he says. "You're looking at the inventor of stuffed crust pizza, all right. They stole the idea from me, but I'm getting me a lawyer. We'll see who invented what," he says, and then he makes a big show of pulling from his pocket one of those I'm trying to impress you key rings with a thousand unnecessary keys on it and lets himself into his house.
     I put the top back up on the car, thrilling to the purring mere five second action it takes, fasten the club on the wheel, and lock my new baby up for the evening. Emmo's mother comes out and leads him into their house for his night-night. I slip back into mine before anyone else can talk to me.
     The next day, it's really pretty and sunny out, and after my run I decide I'm going to give the Beemer a washing-she just doesn't look quite as bright and shiny as she did when I brought her home last week. I fill up a bucket with warm soapy water and drag out the hose and the vacuum.. I let the top down and run the vacuum over the fine Napa leather interior until I can't see one hair or crumb or speck of anything.
     "Hi pretty lady. Whatcha doing?" Emmo is leaning on the car with his big sweaty paws. I try not to shudder at the thought of the handprints.
     "I'm giving my car a bath, Emmo," I say gently.
     "Ooh, can I give my car a bath, too?"
     "Oh, okay. Sure. Let me get you a sponge," I say, smiling at his ever-present toy truck.
     But before I can stop him, Emmo picks up the hose, runs around to the other side of the car, and squeezes the trigger-type handle. For a moment, I stand there stunned as a cold blast of water shoots out all over me and the inside of my car, spraying the newly vacuumed seats and the cute little oriental floor mats which cost me a freaking fortune.
     "Aaaaahhhhh!," I scream as the water hits me again.
     The Mayor, who has been standing there with his arms folded across his chest, watching this whole scene unfold, races over to Emmo, and puts him in a brutal headlock. Emmo starts to wail and drops the hose, but the Mayor continues to choke him. Emmo is turning a whiter shade of pale and I yell "Let him go! Let him go!" But the Mayor doesn't listen.
     Emmo's mother comes running out of her house, and she starts shrieking, too. Man, the sounds coming from her are something I never want to hear in my life again. So I do what I have to do. I pick up the bucket of sudsy water and fling it at the Mayor. Of course, it splashes on Emmo, too, and even though the Mayor finally lets him go, they both start squealing like insane little piglets from the soap in their eyes.
     By now, much to my mortification, the entire neighborhood is outside, taking it all in. The two gay guys from across the street hand me a big roll of paper towels and sympathetically help me mop up the mess in my car. The Mayor mutters something about getting a lawyer to sue my butt off, and Emmo's mom tells him to shut the hell up before she calls the police and has him arrested. I bundle up the mess of wet paper towels, put the roof up on the Beemer, and slink back in the house.
     Once inside, I make myself a cup of tea and draw a warm bath. I try to make my mind a blank, but it just isn't happening. I keep seeing the look of terror on the faces of Emmo and his mother.
     "Darn, darn, darn," I say, jumping out of the tub. My hair still wet, I throw on shorts and a t-shirt, grab my keys and head out the door. Not to the Beemer, though I do point my electronic key in its direction and release the lock; not for a run, though if I was smart, I'd run farther and faster than I ever have in my life, but no, I head to the house down the street, the one with the red door with the cracked, peeling paint. I take a deep breath and knock, but not before making a note to myself to have a talk with the guys who live across from me, the ones with the flower box.
     It takes only a minute for Emmo and his mom to come to the door.
     "Anybody want to go for a ride?" I ask.
     Before his mother can answer, Emmo is in my car.



About the author:
I am the mother of two musical genius children who've appeared in Spin Magazine and we live in downtown Philadelphia. My work has been or will be published in Small Spiral Notebook, Insolent Rudder, In Posse Review, Hackwriters, Pindeldyboz, NagoyaWrites, Reading Divas, and Fiction Warehouse. And I just finished a very rough draft of a novel in my "spare" (yeah, right) time.



© 2011 Word Riot

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