Ron and Sheila were ecstatic as they cruised down the California highway in their brand new, H3 Hummer. It was their first new automobile and they didn’t feel any nostalgic regret as they dumped off the rusting white Nissan they had been driving since they first met in college. They had first considered a beautiful black H2 Hummer, but decided to go with the smaller H3 mode, which had better gas mileage. After all, it was the environmentally responsible thing to do.
As they drove, they passed a bottle of Cristal back and forth, taking long drinks. Neither really cared for champagne, but it seemed appropriate to their celebration. They had just spent two days at a funeral home doing their best to make sad, dour faces, as they spoke about the tragic lost of one-hundred-and-one year old aunt Olga. “I never thought she’d die,” said Ron mournfully to the other attendees, his eyes red and swollen from rubbing them when no one was looking.
“I never thought she’d die,” said Ron in a relieved manner to Sheila before taking another long drink of the cold champagne. The two had been waiting for dear aunt Olga to kick the bucket for what seemed like forever. Every birthday that came, they cursed her as they sent her a bouquet of flowers, much larger and more expensive then they could really afford, but they considered a necessary investment in their future. They also had ran up a huge credit card debt buying fancy tea settings to send their aunt on Mother’s Day. Olga had never been a mother, but it was the thought that counted. Truth be told, Ron and Sheila were the only one who ever thought of Olga anymore. They were good that way.
Olga had lived very simply, in a rundown two bedroom house in what was once a thriving middle-class suburb, but was now the bad side of town. Frugal to a fault, she deprived herself of any excesses, with the single exception of paying for someone to take care of her, though she still fancied herself quite independent. At the time of her death, she was still making her own meals, though for the last three years her only meal was exclusively store-brand peanut butter, which she ate directly from the jar, scooping up a blob with two of her bony fingers and sucking it off with her gummy mouth.
“She loved peanut butter,” Sheila said when giving a tearful eulogy. Sheila really didn’t know much about Olga, but picked up the aunt’s dietary preference from the mortician who apologetically told the couple that when they prepared the body, they could not get all of the peanut butter out of the wrinkles. “You can’t scrub too hard,” he explained, “when they get that old their skin is like parchment paper and it tears very easily.”
In the Hummer, Sheila was busy looking at an issue of Skymall she had grabbed from the airplane during their flight to California. “What do you think of this?” she said as she handed the catalog over to Ron who was driving. “The head massager on page seven,” she pointed.
“I think I could use it right about now,” Ron laughed. “My head is starting to pound.” He took another drink drag of the near empty bottle, which he kept hidden between his legs, though he had not seen a police officer or anyone else on the lonely stretch of scenic back-road. He propped the catalog up on the steering wheel and flipped through it. “Lots of neat stuff in here,” he said, “order whatever you want, all I need is this football helmet chair.”
“All you need is a bigger house,” Sheila laughed, snorting as she did when she started to get tipsy.
“One thing is sure our lives are never going to be the same.” Despite her meager living, Olga was well-off, having two pensions and a life insurance payout from her husband that had died decades earlier. Ron tossed the the empty champagne bottle out of the Hummer and returned to looking at the Skymall catalog, “Did you see the entertainment system on page –” He was cut off abruptly when the Hummer hit something in the middle of the road. Ron slammed on the breaks with a screech. “What the hell was that? Do they have deer in California?” he said startled.
The two looked out of their window to see, not a deer, but the body of a woman smeared across the pavement. Sheila gasped in horror and Ron stomped on the gas pedal and peeled out quickly down the road, burning his tires. “Shit. Fuck. Shit. FUCK.” Ron alternated his cursing like a panicky Morse code while Sheila stutter-sobbed, “our-our new-na-na c-c-c-car.”
It wasn’t until that they were thirty miles down the road that the gravity of the situation dropped down on them like a ton of shit. “If that woman is still alive, she’ll sue us for everything,” Ron said in a panic. “Everything” being the hundreds of empty peanut butter jars stuffed with cash in the back of the Hummer that Olga had left them along with seventeen mother’s day tea settings, which they hoped to eBay.
“It’s a good thing we don’t have plates on the car yet for her to identify us.” Sheila reasoned.
“How many custom painted metallic, eco-green H3 Hummers do you think there are in this area?” Ron snapped in retort as he spun the SUV around in the opposite direction. “We’ve got to go back.” In response Sheila burbled, something, something “doomed”, something, something “ruined”, something, something, “head massager”.
When they returned to scene they found empty pavement and a roughly human shaped pool of blood peppered with skin and brain, but not a body. “This ain’t good,” Ron said, “she’s probably been picked up.” It was Sheila who noticed the trail of gore going off of the pavement. The two followed it through the grass, up to the open door of an abandoned cottage. Hesitantly they stepped in and to their horror saw the partially collapsed blood soaked woman crawling across the moldy shag carpeting dragging her intestines behind.
The couple recoiled back out the house, not really knowing what to do. After a minute of holding his breath, Ron exhaled forcefully and begged off going back the Hummer. “Wait here and watch her,” he said.
Sheila quietly stepped back into the dilapidated cottage and watched with an odd amusement as the woman crawled toward a drab green, rotary telephone setting on top of a moldy end-table. There was no way that the phone still worked and even if it was dead, the woman didn’t have enough brains left in her head to manage it. The will to live, she mused.
In a moment Ron returned with one of the golf clubs he had bought at the pro-shop after the Olga’s funeral. He didn’t golf, but thought he would take it up. It seemed the posh thing to do. Walking over to the woman he lofted up his golf club and swung it at her head. His form was sloppy and he badly hooked to the right, but it did the trick, shattering the part of her skull unscathed by the Hummer’s grill, putting her out of her misery. Ron thought it a kind gesture. “She was in so much pain,” he said softly.
The two walked back to the SUV and Ron lifted up his blood stained driver. “Would you look at that,” he said, “it’s bent. That guy at the shop told me it was top of the line.”
“Don’t worry,” Sheila said, “will get you a new one. We can afford it.” The two laughed and wrapped their arms around each other. One thing was sure. Life would never be the same.