Thursday, March 22, 2018

Oscar Friedman's Freakish Occurrence - Part 4 by Dellani

Early in the morning, the representative from the car rental company, arrives at the hotel. Her name is Jasmine Bond, and she agrees to have breakfast with Oscar.

They chatted politely for the duration of their meal. Oscar liked the snappy attitude of Jasmine Bond. She was smart and sassy, two traits he greatly admired in a woman.
"When you're ready, I'll lead you over to the office."
"That would be great. I have to run up to the room and grab my stuff. You're cool with about twenty minutes?"
"Not a problem, Mr. Friedman."
"Oscar."
"Oscar," she repeated, blushing slightly. "I'll wait for you down here."
He headed up to his room and she made a call to her boss.
"What's the scoop with Friedman?" He asked her moments after saying hello.
"He's a nice guy, Don. Genuinely so. I can't imagine he's involved in anything weird. He's an author here on a tour. I'm bringing him by the office in a few minutes."
"Great," but the older man didn't sound enthusiastic at all. "Bring him by and we'll see what we can do. All I need is for some out-of-town author to give us a bad rep. Who knows who he'll tell! You try and sweet talk him when he's here."
"I'll do my best, Don. He's coming off the elevator now."
"You know what I want from you?"
"Yes, Don. I'm on it." She hung up and waited with a smile while Oscar made his way to her across the lobby.
He was carrying a box of books under one arm and had a laptop on his shoulder. He had changed into tan brushed corduroy pants and jacket with a plaid shirt and coordinating tie. He looked more like an author in her eyes than he had before. His cheeks were smooth and he smelled like shaving cream.
"All set?"
"Yeah. I appreciate your help."
"Doing my job, Oscar." She walked him to his car, fanning herself in the humidity. "I'll pull around and wait for you. I'm parked over there." She pointed to the other side of the lot. By the time you get your stuff stowed, I'll be here."
"Okay. Thanks."
Jasmine Bond led Oscar to the car rental place. Her boss, Don Hickman, came out the greet them.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Friedman?"
Oscar told him the problem with the car. The agent inspected the vehicle, but aside from the smudge on the hood, there was nothing to show what it had been through. By the time he had finished, they were on a first name basis.
"I'd really like a different car, Don. I don't think this hybrid is me."
"I don't have anything else available, Oscar. The other cars are all out for the weekend. I won't have anything coming in for at least three days."
"You mean I'm stuck with this hunk of junk?" Oscar wanted to beat the car until it begged for mercy.
"It's not junk, Oscar. It's a well crafted machine."
"It's crap, Don! I venture to say that the car is a lemon. Probably getting struck by lightning is the most fortuitous thing that could have happened to it. This car defines insanity. I don't need this in my life, Don. I really don't."
"Oscar, I'd like to help you, but I can't do it. I might have something come in this afternoon, but the client said he may need the car a couple more days. I make no promises."
"Meanwhile, I'm stuck. Are there any branch offices in town?"
"I already checked. They're booked solid. I even called our competition. You picked a busy weekend."
Oscar looked at the sooty white Prius with disgust. "Okay. I guess I'm stuck with you," he said to the car. "Be gentle with me."
Don gave him a funny look while Jasmine laughed behind her hand. Oscar appealed to her helplessly. "Help me feed the address into the GPS? That would be a big help."
"That I can do." She loaded the information for him. "Call me if you need anything. I'll be happy to do what I can."
"Thanks, Jasmine. You've been wonderful."
"Not that it helped much, but you're welcome. I'll call you later and check up on you, okay?"
"Thanks." He shook her hand, wanting to kiss her instead. Resisting the impulse, he got in the car and drove off.
The drive to his first venue didn't go well. Each time he thought he was going the right way, the GPS reset, giving him the verbal message "Calculating route." With each recalculation, it seemed the neutral, female voice held more of a reprimand.
"I turned where you told me," he said aloud. Feeling rather foolish, he found his way back to the road and tried again, making another wrong turn. "This can't be right. I just went that direction and you told me to get back on this road. What's going on?"
© 2018 Dellani Oakes


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