UNITED STATES—Doing a good deed in poor conscience really sucks. Eliza knew. She was crossing the city on a Friday night, after being held hostage by a motor mouth on a phone, either too drugged or oblivious to get the drift. Eliza was squirming, she detested procrastination, even to use the term implied a kind of compromise. And that person at the end of the line was certainly guilty of one of the highest crimes, theft of one’s time.

Now the vet had called and her Egyptian cat, was ready to be picked up. The cat would be glad to see her; she was doing the right thing, but with ill will toward a cat no less? How goofy was that. Eliza had a semblance of composure to at least chuckle at her own ludicrous feelings. But they were her feeling nonetheless, they shouldn’t go unacknowledged.

To be caught now, in the night, and the car in the sluggish flow of automobiles. A numbness overwhelmed her limbs, she was lulled into being half in love with destruction derby, hurtling through the West Side darkness and ready to succumb at any moment, uncomplainingly, to the demons of night and bad driving.

Wait, stop, what’s wrong with me? My cup of gratitude overflows. Gee, who would have thought me, Eliza, would be personal and most trusted assistant to a real heartthrob from the 90s. I mean this guy was a real A-lister, but now getting weathered. She was in awe of him and he still was a God even if he was 57, an absolute God, as Eliza glimpsed him getting in or out of the swimming pool. You could look out and on a clear day see the water in Santa Monica, like a mirror behind all the tall buildings.

Surrender to all, almost become complicit to that sick, alluring dream and then gasp awake and be flooded by gratitude that it was a dream. The crash was a dream.

So she continued in the night, raindrops slanting down, the heads of tulips bowing under the weight of the accumulated drops. Bowlegged in that vehicle borrowed from her boss, a Tesla, an aberrant machine that keeps getting besotted in the multiplication of other such vehicles and then deludes, as it becomes the world (constricted) thinking she (Eliza) is on one of the straight avenues and cuddled by this comfort of an elder in clean flannels, a quilted Afghan on bony knees, a captive to fugitive comfort and captive to listless passivity that is the outcome of smoldering incompliance in terms of servitude, driven by the conviction that anyone with half a heart would see that this is all too much.

And on top of this Eliza was pestered by notices for a recall that had already been fixed, taken her employers valuable time to have the airbag that throws numchuks repaired, then turns out the passenger side was still needed. No wonder there was an extreme craving to go home, and forget about Goldilocks her cat because her cat would know that Eliza was picking up Goldilocks in bad faith, and the car was beached, in an area marked Keep Clear—whoosh whoosh cars passed by, others were poised to cross where five corners met, and Eliza became acutely aware she was where no car was supposed to be: and yet you stayed and prayed it would be OK and nobody would notice.

To be continued..

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)