Unfortunately for Oscar, the car company hasn't got another available car. He's stuck with the lemon of a Prius with the schitzy GPS.
Nervously, he swung the car around yet again, making a legal U-turn. A few seconds later, the voice spoke. "Calculating route."
"Oh, come on! Dammit!"
He pulled into a parking lot. Canceling the current route, he keyed in the address once more, choosing fastest time as his filter. He remembered that Jasmine had chosen shortest distance. The GPS spoke again, the voice sounded colder, more irritated. "Calculating route."
Oscar got back on the road, following the arrows when the voice spoke once more.
"At earliest opportunity, make a legal U-turn. Followed by a legal U-turn."
"What?" Oscar pounded on the dashboard. "Dammit to hell!" He pulled back into the gas station, stopping the car. "This isn't happening. I've stepped into a Twilight Zone episode."
Pulling out his phone, he called Jasmine. "I'm sorry to be a bother," he began. "But the I think the lightning damaged the GPS. It's sending me in circles."
"Got a piece of paper and a pen? I'll give you directions."
"Sure, thanks. Sorry to be...."
"It's no bother, Oscar." There was laughter in her voice. "I hate most electronic devises and I argue with the GPS all the time. Don't worry about it."
He copied the directions and got back on the road. Jasmine's instructions were clear and easy to follow. He got to his first venue with several minutes to spare. As he pulled into the parking lot, the GPS piped up, "You have arrived." Was it his imagination, or did the voice sound both haughty and smug?
Shaking his head, Oscar walked into the store, looking for his publisher and the other authors. He found them gathered in a comfortable area near the back of the store. There were several upholstered chairs and a coordinating loveseat arranged in a cozy manner. Most of the authors were sitting down sipping different teas. The store sold every imaginable tea as well as books. Oscar fell in love with the environment as soon as he walked in.
Patrick, his publisher, came forward with his hand extended. "Great you could make it, Oscar! Let me introduce the gang." He went around the group introducing the others proudly, a wide grin on his face. "So that's the rest of our little family."
The store opened a few minutes later and customers dribbled in at first, then more as the morning wore on. Several of them stayed as the authors read excerpts from their books. All of them were well received.
Oscar sold six books. Feeling elated, he talked several minutes to a pair of elderly ladies who were thinking of buying the books for their reading group.
A piercing, annoying whine filled the air. A customer who was just walking through the door, glanced at the parking lot over his shoulder. "Someone's car alarm," he pointed. "That white Prius."
Cursing rather more loudly than he intended, Oscar ran outside. The remote refused to work from the doorway. He had to walk over to the car and use it less than four feet away. Muttering darkly, he walked back inside to apologize, but the women had chosen another book instead. Giving him dubious glares, they left quickly.
"Oscar, what's wrong with you?" Patrick asked him, eyes concerned.
"That car will be the death of me!"
He told the whole sordid tale. By the end of it, he had quite an audience of customers and authors alike. Everyone listened with rapt attention.
"I feel like the dumb thing is out to get me," he finished lamely.
Patrick, who was a former counselor, put his arm around Oscar's shoulders. "You know that's delusional, right? This isn't one of your spine tinglers, Oscar. This is real life. In real life, cars don't have a personality and the GPS doesn't reprimand you for going the wrong way."
"I know that, Patrick. I can't help how it feels, can I?"
"I guess not. Have Jim brew you a cup of that relaxation tea. Have a seat and drink it. It will help you calm down. I'll lead you to the next venue."
"Thanks, Patrick. I'll do that."
He sipped the relaxing brew, letting his eyes drift shut. He didn't realize, until Patrick woke him, that he'd fallen asleep. It was time to leave for the next venue. Feeling somewhat better after his nap, he got in the car. He turned it on, not setting the GPS. Patrick pulled up and he followed him out of the parking lot.
"Calculating route," the GPS said in a chilly voice.
"I didn't set you. You're not supposed to be working."
Stopped at a light, he fiddled with the GPS, but the light changed before he made any progress. Trying to keep his eyes on Patrick in the heavy traffic, he ignored the GPS until the next light. Satisfied that it was off, he waited for the light to change. The car stalled. Cursing, he fought to restart it, but it was being stubborn. Honking accompanied his attempts and Patrick pulled away, oblivious to the fact that Oscar wasn't behind him.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes