UNITED STATES—It was splendid, driving home from the university and taking the scenic route, winding down Sunset Boulevard, where all is green, dark and shady. You pass by the monastery, the route punctuated by green lights and yellow lights that blink and flash. The screams of children wafted through the open cabriolet window, down a crack. Danielle shivered for a moment: picturing the worst. It was a bougie daycare center where parents from Holmby Hills parked their children for the part of their childhood that wasn’t surrendered to bilingual nannies.

The red light turned to green and the car dropped into a stately roll. Danielle was pondering about changing her hairstyle. It was then that a cartoon-blue Mercedes SUV cut too close to the front and mashed the right bumper and snapped the crystal of the turn signal. Danielle looked over, Danielle pouty, a man behind the wheel in sunglasses waved to pull to the side of the road. Danielle obliged. He pulled over, chips of crimson paint embedded on the back of the Mercedes bumper.

He stopped, she stopped. The undertook the drill, whose remembrance or dread thereof, is equal to or surpasses the stress of the actual event, making it a sort of liberation.

Door in front opened, a booted foot ventured out the door. She sighed, the whole rigmarole. Exchanging names, phone numbers, the while drill. The clouds above went on their lonely ways. She closed her eyes, her horoscope had told her to close her eyes and imagine her perfect self and jettison the rest.

She heard the boots scratch on gravel.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “Your car is so low. I backed up and I didn’t even see you.”

“We’ll exchange information,” she said, eyeing the dealer plate on the Mercedes barely off the carlot.

“Instead of going through all this,” said the young man, let’s go to my body shop on Olympic.”

Danielle knew that Alfonso would approve: he liked to do things on the cheap. The man in the faded red t-shirt gave her an address, a long address with lots of sevens. She got there first, and approved. They had a lot of late-model German and British imports.

The guy, a young Russian came out. He peered at her.

“I’m here to meet someone else who did back into my Bentley,” she explained. He gazed at the damage.

“You can wait here,” he pointed a chair and immediately offered coffee or water from a poly fridge in the office.


A while passed, she nursed the water from a Sparklets bottle. After a while, the young Russian came out and cleaned his hands on a rag. Her eyes narrowed his.

“Are you sure he gave you the right address?”

“I’m sure,” she looked forlornly at the paper in her hand.

“What was his name?”

“I don’t know,” Danielle said.

He was making her feel stupid. Like we’re supposed to be all savvy and untrusting. Some people had made the former stripper feel dumb, but her ship came in when she met Alfonso.

More minutes passed. She couldn’t pretend any longer to pretend to sip the bottled water.

A quarter of an hour passed. The young Russian said, “You know there’s another shop right on the corner. Maybe that’s where you want to go.”

Hope in the form of a new door opened and a glimpse rekindled, set her Ferragamo pumps in motion.

Grady Miller, the Wizard of Fiction, is the author of “A Very Grady Christmas: 3 L.A. Christmases” https://amzn.to/2r0aMu0.

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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)