Prompt: Write a story that's set in a place you've never been
The scene: The Red Ball Car Rental, East 33rd St., Manhattan
Characters: A senior couple: Leo and his wife, Ruth, seated in a rental car
Ruth: I still don’t think driving is a good idea, Leo. We've never been there and you haven’t driven in years.
Leo: I hate the train. Besides, driving is like riding a bike: you don’t forget. Hey, I have a key, but there is no ignition hole to put it in. What’s with that?
Ruth: You didn’t listen to the man’s directions, Leo. This is a keyless ignition. Just push the power button.
Leo: The power button? Like on a goddamn air conditioner? Then why does it have a key in the first place? What kind of car is this?
Ruth: I don’t know. For emergencies, I guess. The car is Japanese. It’s a hybrid.
Leo: A hybrid!! That's a rose bush, not a car.
(He pushes the start button)
Leo: It’s farkakte. It didn’t start.
Ruth: If only you would pay attention. The man said the car runs on battery when it is going slow, and then switches to gas engine when in goes fast. You can’t hear the motor when it runs on battery.
Leo: Why do the Japanese think that's good idea? Must be some of their mystical crap. Like Zen or something. We come up with A-bomb and the best they can do is a silent car they can meditate in. No wonder we kicked their asses. Hey, there is no vent window .
Ruth: They haven’t had vent windows on cars in years. Besides, you don’t smoke any more.
Leo: My Seville had a vent window. If you tried to smoke here, the ashes would blow back and burn a hole in your suit.
Ruth: They don’t want you to smoke in here. There are no ashtrays.
Leo: More damn Zen stuff. I can’t see over the steering wheel.
Ruth: My goodness, Leo, if only you had listened.
Leo: He had an accent. I couldn’t understand him. Sounded like he was from New Jersey.
Ruth: There is a lever on the steering column that allows you to adjust the height of the wheel.
(Leo flips a lever and the wipers come on. He flips another and the headlights go to high beam; another one gets the windshield washer going.
Ruth: What are you doing, Leo?
(Finally, Leo flips the correct lever and the steering wheel drops into his lap.
Leo: Aaaaagh! My nuts! I think I have a hernia. How am I supposed to steer? With my putz?
Ruth: Pull the lever and raise the wheel while you are still holding the lever. Release it when you get the wheel where you want it.
Leo: Okay, but I can’t reach the damn pedals. When did the Japanese get so big?
Ruth: On the left side of the seat, Leo, there is a lever that positions the seat. It’s does it automatically, so don’t try to slide yourself. You and this headrest have given me a headache. I am going to recline my seat a little and see if that helps.
(Ruth’s seat suddenly goes into the full horizontal position.)
Ruth: (Thrashing and kicking her legs) Leo, help. I can’t get up!
Leo: What? People are too lazy to slide themselves forward nowadays?
(Leo pulls the lever up and his seat starts to rise.)
Leo: Aaaaagh! The damn steering wheel is smushing my schlong again!
Ruth: For once, Leo, forget your schlong and think of someone else. Push the lever down until you are at the right height and then slide it toward the front until your feet reach the pedals. Then come over and help me get up.
Leo: Okay. I’m all set. Why are you lying down?
Ruth: Forget it.
(She plays with the seat adjustor until she rises to the vertical position)
Leo: Do you have the map?
Ruth: We don’t need a map. This car has GPS.
(she points to the display screen in the center of the dashboard)
Ruth: We just type in the address and the car tells us how to go.
Leo: (stares with his mouth hanging open) The car tells us how to go? What good is that? We don't speak Japanese.
Ruth: In English, I hope. (she enters the address)
Leo: (stares in astonishment)
GPS: Proceed to East 33rd street!
Leo: Big deal. This we could have figured out for ourselves. What happens if we don’t do what it says?
Ruth: (in a stern tone) Don’t even think about it, Leo.
Leo: (examining the key fob and arm rest) How do you lock the doors on this thing?
(He pushes a red button on the fob and a loud alarm starts to blare)
Car: Step back from the vehicle! Step back from the vehicle!
Ruth: It’s yelling at us, Leo! The car is yelling at us!
Leo: It wants us out! What the hell make of car is this? An Amityville?
(An attendant comes to the window and signals for Leo to roll it down.
After some fumbling, he gets the window down.)
Attendant: You hit the alarm button, sir. Give me the key and I'll reset it.
Leo: Keep the damn key. We’re taking the train.
(Have a nosh with my favorite NY couple, senior division, at