This Week’s Story
Almost two years ago I posted a story about a girl in a flatbed Ford. Back in the day, when I called this blog Mannequin Monday. More recently I revised it to take the two characters in a different direction.
Matt Briggs is hitching from northern California to Los Angeles in search of work. On the way he meets a girl driving a flatbed Ford. Intrigue ensues.
Here’s a link to the original story – August of 2020.
The Flatbed Ford
Matt Briggs sat on a bench at the edge of a mall parking lot, a quarter mile from the freeway off ramp where his last hitch dropped him. He held a cardboard LA sign damp with his sweat, backpack and guitar case at his feet.
A dark green flatbed Ford drove past. The girl driving slowed as she turned to have a look at him. She parked farther out where there was room for her truck.
She walked toward Briggs. Jeans, a faded red tee, worn cowboy boots. Her sun-bleached ponytail flashed in the sunlight. She pointed to his sign. “Headed to LA?”
“I’m headed in your direction. If you wait, I’ll drive you part way.”
Briggs smiled. “Sounds good. How long?”
“Long enough to eat a pizza. I mobile-ordereed.”
“Tell me – gluten free, veggies, fake cheese.”
“Fooled me,” Briggs said.
“Not hard, I see.”
He put up his hands in surrender. “Got me.”
She said, “I can share. Hungry?”
They sat outdoors at a metal table, steel chairs squealing on the concrete.
She opened the box, grabbed a slice. “What’s in LA?” she asked.
He shrugged. “A job, I hope. I know a guy runs a food truck. He needs help. Or he can get me in at a craft services company.”
“Where you coming from?”
“The Bay area. Worked a grill for the last six months.”
“Tired of it?”
He sipped a Coke. “Tired of the place. If I see another hipster with a long beard, I’ll throw up.”
She laughed. “A bit biased, are we?”
He chewed off another bite. Waited to answer. Had none.
“You think you’ll lose that vibe in LA?”
“Nah. Just different. I hope.”
“No girl left behind up north?”
He looked at her over his pizza slice. “Talk about biasses…is it always a broken down love?”
“When is it not?” she asked.
Once more he shrugged. His signature move.
“What was she like?” ponytail asked.
“Wonderful…till she cheated on me.”
“Then how did she cheat on you?”
“You saying it was my fault?” He leaned in.
“I’m saying, she’s free till she promises herself, right?”
“Not how I see it.”
She pointed a finger at him. “You’re not seeing it right.”
“Isn’t a year together enough of a promise?”
“Not in my book.” She held out her left hand. “While this finger is empty, she’s free.”
“What about you?” Briggs said. “I don’t see a ring on your hand.”
“And you never will.”
They finished the pizza. He ordered coffees for each of them.
“Where are you actually headed?” he asked her.
He tipped his head toward her. “A guy?”
She shook her head. “A horse. Checking out a mare I might buy.”
Briggs climbed into her truck, stashed his gear under his feet.
“If traffic is good, we should be in Burbank in under an hour.”
“So, you into horses?’
She nodded. “All my life. No one comes close.”
Briggs leaned back, stared out the window as she drove eastbound on the 101 freeway.
“Where’s your buddy live?” she asked.
“Not that far. You might catch a ride from where I’m stopping.”
“If you get the horse, where will you keep it?”
“Her. She’s a mare. She, not it.”
He shook his head slightly. “Where?”
“I work on a ranch near Santa Barbara. I can board her there. Till I can afford my own place.”
“You want a ranch?”
“Yep. Some day.”
He turned to look at her. “That’s an expensive dream.”
“You originally from the Bay area?” she asked.
“Nah. College in Iowa. Raised in Indiana. Been out here since I got out of college twelve years ago. Mostly back and forth between LA and San Francisco. That’s where the food action is.”
“You a chef or something?”
He sat up straighter. “I call myself a chef. Everyone sees me as a cook.”
She cheated on me
She smiled. “You got a signature dish?”
“I did. She cheated on me.”
“Christ, that was a stupid answer.”
Another shrug. “A Monterey Club sandwich.”
She glanced over at him. “Make me want to taste it.”
“Three crispy whole wheat tortillas, layered with fried ham, marinated chicken, bacon, Colby Jack cheese, a spicy aioli.”
“What, no lettuce and tomato?”
“Thin slice of tomato, maybe. No lettuce. Makes for a sloppy sandwich.”
“Thin cut fries, crispy and salty. A big mug of beer, or Coke. Either ice cold.”
She nodded. “You got me. Call me when you get set up somewhere.”
“You want to see me again?”
She pulled off the freeway onto Burbank surface streets. “I want you to cook for me.”