Fandom: Laverne and Shirley
Pairing/characters: Lenny/Laverne; Shirley/Squiggy; Laverne, Shirley, Lenny and Squiggy
Word Count: 10,500
Spoiler: General show spoilers; takes place just after Road to Burbank, before the gang arrives in Los Angeles.
Warnings: (if any or choose not to warn) : nothing too bad to speak of
Summary: Laverne and Shirley experience a bit of uncertainty on their way to Burbank; the detours include a desert town and an unexpected romantic assignation for Shirley.
Notes: Written for Journeystory in '13! Thank you to for doing my art!
They had been driving Route 66 for three hours straight when Squiggy pulled off the road. They'd managed to find a rest stop at last, and he claimed he desperately needed to re-oil his hair worm.
His fellow travelers were just as eager to escape the close confines of the truck. Laverne emerged first from the belly of the Squignowksi van, stretching her long limbs and yawning, her nose wrinkling as she inhaled a blast of dust-drenched air.
Shirley hopped out of the van just behind her, wide-eyed and smiling, her arms outstretched as she absorbed the warmth and comfort of the dry air...then cringed at the blast of heat that hissed across her her fair skin. "I knew I should have packed more sunblock!" she cried, ducking back into the van, finding herself shoved out of the way by an aggressive Squiggy.
"It's startin' to drip in my eyes," he complained, climbing out of the truck and over her kicking-sprawled legs. His nose wrinkled against the dry air and he tucked his face into his leather jacket. "Whose lousy idea was it to build the desert in the middle of a highway?"
"I think that was the point, Squiggy," Shirley said, grunting as she rolled over. Her eyes skittered across the vans' green and tan upholstered travel seats to Lenny. He'd passed out cold after their breakfast visit to an all-you-can eat rib buffet stationed several hours up the road; it was soon to be lunchtime, and Shirley knew that letting Lenny sleep for any length of time was a foolhardy idea.
"Where do you think he puts it, Laverne?"
Laverne pulled a hankie out of her clutch purse and honked the dust from her nose. "Have you ever been to the bathroom after him?"
"...That's a disgusting question, even for you," Shirley said. Shaking Lenny's leg, she called his name. "Come on Len. Lennnny! Wake up and face the day!" When she got no answer, Laverne joined in from her spot on the other seat, hopping nimbly across the divide to jostle his shoulder.
It took the both of them shaking him for a good ten minutes before he groaned and rolled off of his improvised bed and onto the floor. "Gesh! Whattya trying to do, scare me to death?"
"That would be an improvement over your snoring. It's almost noon," Shirley said crossly. "We've stopped for a meal."
"Yeah, and Squig needed to fi x his hairworm," Laverne added.
"You let him go to the bathroom alone?" Lenny gaped. "Are you crazy!? The last time he did that he got beat up by a couple of guys cause they wouldn't share the mirror!" He combed his greasy pompadour back with his long tapered fingers and reached for his discarded Lone Wolf jacket. "I know it don't look like it, girls, but in this little friendship here, I'm the muscle."
Laverne's nasal laugh cut through the air, earning her an elbow to the gut from Shirley. "Ugh!" She rubbed her belly for a moment, while Shirley cut in.
"Go find him. We'll get a table inside and wait for you." Shirley gathered her purse while Laverne held out her hand.
"Keeeys," Lenny sing-songed, before tossing her the ring with its multiple shiny entry passes. He smirked when Laverne lobbed it at him with her best underhand pitch. "Thank you," he deadpanned, which gave Laverne time to whip her handkerchief at him. Lenny cried out, cringing backward from her sharp, stinging blow.
"Stop bein' such a big baby," Laverne taunted.
"Noo! I kinda needed that hand Lavrnee!" He whined in response.
"I'm not hurting you! I've hit you with way heavier things before," she teased. "Now go find squig before he hurts himself."
He mock-saluted her, leaving the van and she and Shirley alone, and stuck trying to ferry their way toward the diner.
"I hope it doesn't get any hotter," Shirley muttered, mopping her face with her kerchief as they pulled open the steaming hot door handle and trundled themselves into the diner.
The gas station was clean and surprisingly neat, at least on the exterior; washed white brick, with bright red tile roofs and beautifully ornamented and detailed. Brightly colored placards filled the windows, advertising one dollar bowls of soup and quesadillas fresh off the grill. The scent of gas pouring up from the well attended pumps several feet from the front door, mixing with the toasty scent of sun-warmed sand and the raw and yet salty scent of frying beef; car hops raced about, helping out motorists who seemed more interested in getting out of the sunlight and getting a cool breeze blowing through the cabs of their stolid Buicks, Caddies and Bugs. Laverne and Shirley decided to stretch their legs while Lenny filled up the tank and tried to pry Squiggy away from the mirror.
Next door to the filling station, sandwiched between a car-wash area and the small diner, was a country store. Both girls decided to head in and check out the items lying about on sale; the blast of cool air that greeted them made them both groan in delight, completely pleased with their decision. The number of pictures they took off the glossy painting-covered walls were incalculable; Laverne was, in particular, fascinated by the very large stuffed clown located right by the front door.
"Boy, I wonder what kinda weirdo would want this!"
Predictably, the front door slammed open. "Hello!" Squiggy piped. "Have eithera you girls seen Len around?"
Both women had jumped back from the door in fright - Laverne clutched her camera to her chest and let out a muffled squawk. "You almost scared me to death!"
Squggy eyed her and shrugged. "It'd be a better look for you."
Laverne reared back, ready to swing her fist, before Shirley got between the two of them. "Andrew," Shirley said, "Leonard is in the bathroom. Looking for you. You moron!"
He puffed up his chest, glaring right into Shirley's eyes. "Hey, I've been called a lotta things during this trip, but moron?! That's too much. You're pushin' me to the edge, Shirley Wilhelmeeney Feeney!" He advanced on her. "You're givin'me the bloodlust!"
Shirley's fist connected with his midsection, barreling Squiggy over and right into the clown-occupied chair. He turned, frowning toward his now-lopsided rubber companion. "You ever get a feeling like it ain't your day?"
The girls responded by stomping out of the shop, just as the store's irate clerk accosted Squiggy, demanding damages for the squashed doll.
The girls meandered out into the desert sun. There, they found a small cactus patch in a grassy stretch by the road, and Laverne took a shot of some flowers clustered by the thorny crowns of fruity flesh.
Shirley, meanwhile, photographed a little girl picking up an ice cream bar at the front of the diner. She ended up getting herself an ice cream cone, and Laverne a chocolate cone, then the two of them settled down to people-watching together.
"Boy, Laverne," Shirley sighed, as they left the place, each with waffle cones piled to the brim with frozen chocolate cream. "This sure is a cute little place - tiny and a little bit hot, but very cute."
"Yeah, and the benches are made of real wood, not plastic!" She patted the park bench as she sat down, crossing her tanned legs and enjoying the play of a breeze across her flesh. "Boy, it's just like it used to be back in Milwaukee - before they stopped taking care of the park and they cut down all of the trees!"
"Yes, Laverne, I too find it tragic that they turned the park into a truckstop."
"I wouldn't call it tragic," she insisted, grinning. "The truckers that go there have the nicest tushes."
Shirley sighed. "Yes Laverne, a thousand trees died just so you could drive yourself to smutville and back again."
Laverne pouted. "I'm not acting smutty," she complained. "There's nothing wrong with looking at a cute guy. And smiling back at him when he smiles at you. And when he bends over...."
"Enough, please." Shirley glowered, burying her face in the ice cream.
"You're just jealous 'cause Carmine picked staying home over coming out with us!"
"Jealous?" She laughed. "Laverne, someday you're going to find yourself in a relationship as mature as the one I have with Carmine and you'll understand that absence makes the heart grow fonder."
"Hah!" Laverne rolled her eyes. "We all saw you two phony baloneys making out the whole way back up Delancy Street!"
"We were just saying goodbye," she glared. "You'll see, Laverne - soon we'll be exchanging long love letters....long phone calls...long, dreamy embraces while we slow-dance in some beautiful California country club..."
"Listen to you!" Laverne chuckled. "There ain't gonna be any country clubs in California, Shirl, and no doctors takin' us out to the movies; it's gonna be a long time before we can even afford to get our own place, forget going to fancy parties."
"Listen to you!" Shirley tisked. "You're such a gloomy gus! You were so excited to come out here and now look at you! You're as grumpy as a toad with the mups!"
Laverne pouted at her cone, then lapped it. "That was before I spent five days stuck in a car with Lenny and Squiggy."
"An excellent point," Shirley sighed. "Let's just forget about the future, huh? Look at this GORGEOUS scenery, huh! Just ignore the boys...ignore the heat and think about how lucky we are!"
Laverne's smile came to her, unbidden but sweetly. "Yeah, I guess. It is kinda nice out here after all."
"Too bad we can't stay around," she sighed. "I bet I could land a doctor in two seconds flat."
"Again with the doctors?" She complained through clenched teeth.
"Single. Unmarried. Desert doctors, Laverne." Shirley practically swooned.
"Yeah, Shirl - I guess you'll find one," he sighed. "Or at least trip over a married one." Then, Laverne smiled welcomingly at a tall, lanky cowboy with dark hair who passed them by. As she grinned up at him, he smiled back, tipping is cowboy hat. "Afternoon, ma'am."
Laverne melted like a pat of butter lying out under the sun. "D'you hear that, Shirl? Ma'am."
Shirley nodded appreciatively. "It sounds so much nicer than 'hey chickie-boo, I can see all the way up to Pirate's Stadium.'" Smacking sounds fall from her lips and she kisses the dry, empty air, and Laverne gave a roll of her eyes in agreement.
"I can't stand guys like that," she admitted. "They remind me of those creepy guys that attach mirrors to their shoes in elevators!"
"Hey, girlies," Squiggy said, striding up, his hands tucked into his jean pockets. Both women shared a look, then burst into laughter, as somehow Squig had already managed to line up a cowboy outfit for himself; a shirt, black with gray stripes, and a white hat with golden trim. "Let's get them doggies rolling."
Laverne winkled her nose. "He's such a gentleman," she complained. "Where'd you leave Len?"
"Eh, he's letting some of the sheep out to pasture," Squig shrugged. "Aren't you gonna ask me about my brand new duds?"
The girls shared another glance. "Nah."
Squiggy pouted. "Good! It ain't worth your crummy questions! C'mon, let's get a move on already, I'm gonna sweat through my naugahyde!"
"Boy, no wonder I wish we could stay a little longer," Shirley sighed, licking her cone as they headed back to the ice cream truck.
"Yeah, it's a nice dream there Shirl, but we've got an even bigger dream ahead of us. Hollywood."
"Swimming pools." Shirley sighed.
"Movie stars," Laverne agreed.
"Girls who don't know how to say no, on account of them not speaking English."
Laverne rolled her eyes, but Shirley sighed, "Squig, women speak English in California."
"Not in the great state o' Tijuana!"
Lenny grinned as he strolled up to them and pushed down his own cowboy hat - black with cactuses on the brim lined in rhinestones - over his eyes. "Yeah, they don't know the meaning of the word Si!"
"See what?" Squiggy wondered. He and Lenny grinned, making positively lurid faces as they made smacking sounds and started growling obnoxiously. Laverne smacked Lenny as she piled into the van, starting another round of whining as he followed both girls in.
"You gals are gonna be all apologies when we cruise into LA!" Lenny claimed. "Me and Squig'll be pull'n em off like leaches!"
Laverne's nose wrinkled, and Shirley grunted, giving him a roll of her own the eyes. "Fellas, I'm sure you'll have a...GREAT time...with whichever unfortunate women you manage to hypnotize into some sort of tragic romantic liason," Shirley said. "But that's not moving the truck, is it?"
"Huh?" Lenny pouted.
Laverne intervened. "Wouldja forget about us and turn on the car?" The remark was partnered with a slap to the back of Squiggy's head, which knocked his hat into the dash.
"Geez, whatchit!" Squig brayed, protecting his head. "With an attitude like that you're lucky me and Len didn't run away and leave ya to the kindness of the wolves!"
"There ain't no wolves!" Lenny protested.
"Are too! How else do ya think those bones get so clean?"
A piercing whistle from Laverne ended the argument. "Shut up and drive!"
"All right all ready." He turned the key. "Milwaukee dames," he complained. But there was no sound of ignition, for, while Squiggy had done as Lenny asked, the engine hadn't turned over. In fact, its gears ground together ominously, a nerve-shredding noise that made the two women cringe at its ominous cries. The boys frowned at it in confusion, but Laverne turned to Shirley in excitement.
"Guess you're gonna get your wish, Shirl!"
"Oh ho, I did NOT wish for this to happen!" Shirley picked up Boo Boo Kitty. "Did I? Noey-woey, I sure didn't!"
"Wonder if Carmine'll find you all the way out here," she teased, but Shirley drowned her out under a wave of further baby talk. "Guess it's up to me to get us fixed up!"
With that, Laverne got out of the van and instantaneously jutted out one of her legs, her thumb hiking back and forth as if she were looking for a hitch. Shirley had already spied her disappearance and had abandoned her stuffed cat to harangue Laverne. "What are you doing?" Shirley cried, spying her from the window. "Laverne!" She rolled up the serving window and leaned out. "Laverne, put away that leg before we attract unsavory attention!"
"Hey, quiet down!" Laverne hissed through her teeth. "How else 'm I going to get attention from a bunch of sweaty truck drivers?"
As if on cue, the boys' voices piped forth from the trunk side of the truck. "Hold the nuts and tighten the lug, dummy!"
"I am - hey, watch my hat! I had to pretend to sue that chick five times before she gave it to me!" Squiggy pouted and smacked Lenny's shoulder, and the boys quickly became enveloped in a very macho slapfight.
"Why," Shirley hissed, "do you want the attention of a bunch of sweaty truck drivers?"
"Because if we don't get a little help, we'll be stuck here in the heat with those boys."
Flashbacks of the Royal Cactus immediately set in. Shirley leaned out the window, letting out a piercing whistle to draw further attention to them.
By then Laverne had settled herself curbside, feet planted upon the road, her arms crossed, leaning against the ice cream truck as Squiggy and Lenny stared into the radiator.
Shirley, too, gave up fairly quickly on account of the heat and sat beside her, fanning herself uselessly with a map. She peered back toward the truck. "So how's it coming, fellas?"
"Eh, Squig pulled the wrong tube!" Lenny complained.
"I did not! You're the one who's leanin on the carburetor!"
"That's not the carburetor, dummy!"
"Don't call me dummy, you dope!"
"Boys!" Shirley called. "BOYS!" But it was Laverne's high-pitched whistle which cut through the tension.
"Thaaat does it! We need a real mechanic," Laverne declared, getting up and striding toward the filling station. "Shirl, keep trying to get us a hitch - and if they ask, tell them GAS, got it."
"Gas..." She frowned. "Laverne, do I want to know what the other options are?! LAVERNE!"
"Hey," Lenny protested, tracking her down and grabbing her upper arm with his large hand, "I've been working on cars since I was six."
"Yeah, but they was made of Tinker Toys," Squiggy catcalled.
"Oh yeah? You're the one who used to dissect toy cars to find the heart." Lenny blew a raspberry. "Cars don't have no heart on account of 'em not being alive!"
"Doncha think it's creepy that there ain't one in there?" Squig shuddered. "It just ain't natural."
Shirley raced up and leaned into Laverne's side, cupping a palm around her ear. "Let's bike down into the nearest town and ditch 'em," Shirley whispered.
Laverne shook her head. "That wouldn't be right, Shirl. 'Sides, Lenny owes me five cents for the Knee-Hi he bought back at the drug store on our last stop."
"You said you were tired of them," she hissed. "Come on, they could find their way back home," she peered back at Lenny, who kept standing beside Laverne, his hand on her shoulder. "Lenny?"
Laverne squirmed from under his hand. "Len!"
"Wah? Oh!" He moved to the side. "Sorry Laverne, guess I don't know my own strength, huh?"
She rolled her eyes. "You didn't hear any of that."
"I didn't hear any of that," he echoed back benignly.
"All right - Lenny, Laverne, you stay with the car. Squiggy and I will head to the station and finds a willing mechanic."
Squiggy grinned as he came around the car to meet Shirley. "So is this a social visit?"
"It's a lets-get-help visit," she replied, dragging him away by the ear.
"I'm starting to wish I'd listened to you, Shirl," Laverne grumbled, protectively crossing her arms around her middle.
Lenny just grinned and looped an arm around Laverne's shoulder. "It's okay! Don't hurry back, Shirl!"
"Lenny!" Laverne hissed out.
"Just relax, settle down...feel the hot desert breeze blowin' up your sweaty sports bra..."
She whacked him once for his disrespectful behavior, but, admittedly, it was a very fond little whack. "Sorry. Guess the heat must be getting to me, huh?"
"Riight," Laverne snorted. "Hey Len - wanna have some more ice cream?"
He grinned. "Race to to the stand."
"Nah." She nudged him with her elbow. "I'm in the mood for a Nutty Buddy."
He grabbed her by the shoulder. "You wouldn't kid me, Laverne, wouldja?"
She shook her head. "Race you there!"
By the time Lenny and Laverne had been rescued from the interior roasting hot ice cream truck, they'd used half of the Nutty Buddies Lenny and Squiggy had bought as 'seeder treats' for their business as ice bags. In the truckstop's diner, they shared cups of chilled lemonade while Laverne tried to clean herself up - Nutty Buddies were anything but clean forms of cooling agence.
Unfortunately, when Squiggy saw her he let out a shriek of alarm, which did nothing to ease Laverne's awkwardness. Half-heartedly, she wiped away the mess pooling beneath her armpits. Shirley held out a handful of napkins and she kept her eyes upon the plate set out before her. Squiggy just stared at her, wide-eyed, until Laverne finally tossed away her napkin and yelled. "What's the problem? Did I grow a second nose?"
"You stay away from me, you she-devil!" Squiggy hollered.
"Andrew, I know you're a little frightened by Laverne's appearance. We all are! But there's no need for you to act like a child!"
"Whattya talking about?" Lenny wondered. "She looks great!"
Laverne's shy smile forced him to smile back - which distracted her from the act of scraping melted ice cream from her armpits. While wiping the half-melted chocolate from beneath her armpits, she turned in her embarrassment toward Lenny. "You hear that? Len thinks I look nice, so cram it."
"He don't know what's bad for him," Squig replied, high-voiced and hoity-toity. "And he oughta, 'cause he saw just what I saw."
Lenny snorted, shook his head. "He's just escared of ice cream."
"Then why're you boys going into the ice cream selling business?" Laverne wondered.
"Cause it was cheap to sell and I like the way I look in a truck," Squiggy shrugged. "Anyway, I ain't getting near Laverne no more, 'cause she's possessed!" he shrieked, poking Lenny in the shoulder.
"I dunno what he's talking about," Lenny insisted.
"Sure you do! Doncha remember that midnight movie we saw back in Minneapolis? First they bleed black, then their eyes roll back, then they start screamin' about how the devil wants your soooul!"
"Squig!" Laverne complained.
"That ain't real, dummy!"
"I ain't no dummy!" Squiggy eyed his best friend. "Say goodbye to your soul, Len, 'cause pretty soon you'll be nothing but a heartless old husk!"
"Pft, whatta lone of balloon juice," Lenny replied, but he kept a particularly close eye on Laverne, who promptly turned toward Shirl.
"How much longer do you think the mechanic's gonna be?" she asked.
"What did he say?" she asked Squiggy.
"I dunno, something about a busted rod," shrugged Squiggy. "I was too busy tryin' to figure out why you and Len was cozying up like there was no tomorrow."
Shirley had briefly started sipping at her lemonade, but Squiggy's accusing voice suddenly drew her attention. "You know, come to think of it you two were canoodling," she remarked. After sipping her lemonade, she added, "I hope someone's not leading somebody else on again."
Laverne gritted her teeth tightly together, then hissed, "nobody's leading anybody on, all right? We was just having a nice, calm, happy little lunch, okay?"
"Right. Len looked real happy to me," Squiggy said, earning him an elbow.
"Wouldya cool it?" Len frowned. "You're wrecking my reputation!" He smiled goofily at Laverne, then tried to hide his face within his palm.
"Aww, don't be embarrassed or nothin'." Laverne reached over the table and gently shoved him.
"Nahh," Lenny replied, snorting softly. "We was just hanging out, the way we used to do back in Milwaukee."
"Pft. Too bad there's no popcorn to hog, and no TV to leave on the channels that stink!" Squiggy tilted his nose skyward in superiority, quite satisfied with his proclamation.
"Clam up," Laverne grumbled. At last, their waitress came by with the check and their lunches, and Shirley piped up with a question she'd been stifling for quite some time.
"Excuse me, Miss," Shirley said sweetly. "Could you please direct us to the nearest motel?"
The waitress eyed her before whispering, "ditch the beanpole, she won't turn a cent, and those creeps'll take you for everything you've got."
Shirley's jaw dropped. "Oh...Oh my. No, I didn't want to..."
"Don't you worry about it, honey - you're a nice-lookin' girl, they'll love you down at the ranches."
Shirley's nose wrinkled, and Laverne had to bite back a laugh. "I'm afraid that I'm not the sort of girl you're talking about, you see - these two boys have been my friends for a very long time, and they're not on my dole, if you catch my drift. No, we'll all be staying together. Not," she added through gritted teeth, "in the Biblical sense."
"Ohh," the waitress snapped her gum, and then twirled her hair. "There's a really nice place in this town up the street. They sell pottery and stuff." She tore a ticket from her order pad, and then scribbled down the address with all the speed of someone who was used to being screamed at by horny, busy truckers. "Ask for Rhetta Lou, she'll put ya up for the night."
Laverne gave her a lopsided grin. "Thank you," she said, then folded up the address and jammed it in the purse. "There we go - in case the car don't work, we've got somewhere to stay."
"Yes, and to pretend you're not making out with anyone," Shirley replied, sniffing, then fixing her hair.
"We didn't think you were gonna get back, Shirl." Laverne told her, as they huddled together in the air-conditioned restaurant seat. The elderly couple sitting just beside the four of them at the counter smiled indulgently. He was nice-seeming, grandfatherly, and older than the deserts surrounding them.
"New to town?"
"Just tourists," Shirley declared firmly. "We're on our way to Hollywood."
"To be famous," Laverne replied.
"And get oodles of chickeroonies," Squiggy added.
"And see the ocean," Lenny declared.
The elderly man just shook his head. "That's what I said forty years ago," he declared, whistling and spitting a mouthful of tobacco juice into a dixie cup. "You're the fellas who brought that ice cream truck in?"
"That's us," Lenny said.
"Then you'd best be letting me drive you out to Rhetta's place," he said.
"Oh no, you mean we'll be late?" Shirley worried.
"Struts are shot and the engine's overheated," he declared. "You're gonna be our guests for about a week, til the parts come in."
The boys started whining instantly, giving Laverne time to draw her best friend aside. Covertly, they stepped toward the jukebox, eyes on the eldely man. Laverne cupped her hand around Shirley's ear and whispered, "Shirl, are you sure about him?"
Shirley laughed off Laverne's worries instantly. "Oh pshaw! He was nothing but a gentleman during our talk, and he is taking care of our car at the auto shop."
"Hey girls!" Squiggy shouted, "get a move on! Bobbo here's showin' me his purple from World War I."
"Yeah!" Lenny shouted gleefully. "And if we ask real nice he's gonna draw hula girls on our bellies and teach us how to jiggle 'em!"
"That's nice, boys," Laverne hollered. With a sigh she turned back toward Shirl and said, "you wanted more time here. Now you got your chance!"
"Now that you put it that way," Shirley said, "it is a terrific chance to soak up the local color."
"You never know," Laverne said, sitting back down and picking up her burger. A bite later, she added, "Y'never know, Shirl, we might stay here."
"Oh Laverne," she declared, with a sniff, "you can go and stay as you please. I'm headed to California," she sighed. "You know your father's expecting you anyway."
"Yeah," Laverne sighed. "MY FATHER!" she cried suddenly, standing up in alarm. "I haven't called him yet today!"
"Relax!" Shirley encouraged. "I'm sure if you call him from the inn he'll be reasonable."
Laverne frowned, tucking her burger into her palm. "Shirl, one time he called out the National Guard when I was ten minutes past my curfew!"
"Well..." She hemmed and hawed. "that was when you were a little girl! It's different now. " Shirley sighed, skated her fingers across the immaculate surface of the diner's Formica surface. "He has to accept that you're a grown woman and you're going to steer your own destiny from now on."
Laverne laughed. "We're moving to California so he can give us jobs. AND references to an apartment HE helped us find," she glowered at her own straw. "I dunno, Shirl. Suddenly this whole move thing don't seem too good of an idea."
"Oh no! Chin up!" Shirley encouraged. "California will be good for both of us!"
"Yeah...you're right. I guess there's a swimming pool with our names on it out there. And a hunk with nice abs."
"Well, that'll be us soon enough," Shirley said. "Right now, I'm eyeing cactus sculptures and cow skulls."
Laverne raised an eyebrow. "Yep. We're gonna stay."
"Oh, pshaw," Shirley declared, starting out the window at the golden-blue sunset.
"Yeah, Pop...Right...Okay...I promise I'll let you know if it's too expensive. I'm sure the boys have the dough to take care of the truck, though...How's Edna? Good...Yeah, Shirl says hello." Laverne glanced over her shoulder at her best friend. Shirley had settled quickly into their room at the little inn and was counting her way through her typical one hundred brush strokes. Considering how short her pixie cut was, Laverne wondered how her head hadn't ended up with rug burn. "Okay pop - I'll let 'em know. You sleep good, okay? Night!" She hung up the phone with a grunt, then pitched herself onto her bed.
"Is your father mad?"
"Y'mean madder than ususual?" Laverne wondered. "Nah, he said as long as we're both okay I can wait a coupla days between calls. But ONLY a couple of days." She rolled over onto her side and clicked on the TV. "Did that lady at the front desk say where the action is?"
Shirley put down her brush and immediately stood, beginning her stretching exercises. "Laverne, I am sweaty, sticky and exhausted. I don't know about you, but any man who looks at me like this and decides I'd be enchanting company must have a screw loose."
BAM went the connecting door as it flew open. "Hello," Squig said, strutting inside, then eyeing Shirley's hostess pyjamas as she ran, yelping, for the closet. "Boy, you girls sure do undress real quick." It was noteworthy that Squiggy was wearing his boxers and his leather jacket - and that was about it.
Laverne rolled her eyes. "Squig, what's your problem?"
"Eh, I was lookin' for Len. He decided to go swimmin' over in that lake they got out at the edge of town, but he ain't been back yet."
"How long ago did he leave?"
Laverne brayed out a laugh. "Squig, that's dumb! It's been five hours since then..." She raised an eyebrow, then locked stares with Shirley. With a groan, she got up off the bed. "Never mind, I'll take care of it."
Shirley headed toward the bathroom. "Don't let him shove anything down the back of your blouse," Shirley warned primly. "The last time you went to the shore alone you came back with four tons of seaweed stuck in your bra."
Squiggy made an obscene noise. "Wouldya get out of here?!" It was enough motivation for Laverne to get up and shove him out the connecting door and back into his room. Once the door was shut, she turned back towards Shirley. "Why're you talking about our business in front of him, huh?"
"I was trying to warn you!" Shirley tisked. "You know how...sensitive you can get when you swim in fresh water."
Laverne grimaced, then hissed from the corner of her mouth, "It wasn't cause I was swimming."
Shirley's mouth fell open, but Laverne had already slid away and started dressing once more, this time in the privacy and security of the closet.
When she arrived at the lakeshore, Lenny was nowhere in sight, but his towel and pants were. "Lenny!" she shouted. She shot a look of pure fright at Squiggy before saying, "you go right, I'll go left!"
"Wait, your left or my left?"
Laverne shoved him in the opposing direction. "THAT left!"
"Y'don't have to be such a jerk!" Squiggy pulled away and off into the darkening night, calling Lenny's name in a sarcastic, high-pitched trill.
"C'mon Len," she shouted. "LENNY! Where are ya, Len?" She scanned the beach until a flash of red jacket bobbing on the lake made her start and yelp, diving headfirst down into the water and swimming toward it.
"Len!" she sqeezed the material between her fingertips, pulling him up by the collar. That stirred Lenny - still in his jacket, formerly face-down in the water - to stir and holler, kicking his way away from her.
"Geesh, whatt're you trying to do, drown me?"
She frowned, releasing his collar, sitting back and giving him a glare. "What'sthe idea, Len?! "
"I wasn't trying to scare you, I was trying to scuba dive - without a mask."
She let out a groan and rubbed at her temples. "Lenny..."
"It was a good idea," he pouted. "It just went wrong, that's all."
She rolled her eyes before hollering Squiggy's name in the opposite direction. "NEVER MIND. WE FOUND HIM!"
"I heard ya, I heard ya!" he yelped back.
"What's the big idea?" she asked, shoving Lenny gently. "You almost gave us all a heart attack there!"
"Hey, I wasn't trying to scare you," he insisted. "I was just trying to get are from Squg for awhile."
"Get away from Squiggy? You?" she gaped.
"Yes, me," Lenny pouted. "Confidentially, Laverne, I love the little guy, but he drives me nuts sometimes.
"Yeah, I can see that," Laverne sighed. "So you wanna come back home before the mosquitos eat us up?"
"Yeah, I guess...though that ain't home, Laverne - it's a little box where we get three squares a day and a tv that shows reruns of Cecil the Seasick Sea Monster."
"Aww, Len," Laverne said, wrapping an arm around his shoulder. "Anyplace can be home with the right people in it."
"Yeah?" Lenny asked.
"Yeah," she said. And as she stooped to help him pick up his stuff, she said, "Even when they bug the heck out of you."
Twelve minutes later, Laverne found herself opening the door of the room she shared with Shirley. Inside lay her best friend, who had curled up in her bed and was quietly snoring from beneath an aloe mask.
Laverne smirked as she toed off her shoes and stripped down to her slip. Shirl would pitch a fit if she knew everybody else knew she was a snorer. Elegant, dainty young ladies like Shirley Feeney could do many, many things, but snore wasn't one of them.
Sliding into bed, she closed her eyes and wondered at how easily they'd settled into this nomadic life - she hadn't been further than Chicago after her trip from New York, had never been able to see beyond the streets of Flatbush when she was a child. Now she was lying a thousand miles from home, curled up in a borrowed bed, still wet from pulling a friend out of a river.
Wet and Lenny. There were two terms she didn't feel comfortable marrying.
It was odd to think of him as anything more than a chum, an old pal - though if a guy drives you cross-country, it's hard to think of him in any other way but as a very good, very weird friend.
Who was transporting her across the country because he had an obvious crush on her.
Laverne shut out every annoying voice ringing in the back of her head and closed her eyes tightly, submitting herself to the familiar, but craven, comfort of sleep.
Laverne sat down upon the cool wooden floor, enjoying the play of sunlight as it played in orange hues against the windowpane of the old general store. Lenny came up to her, mopping his sweaty neck with a balled-up rag, wearing a defeated expression upon his face.
"I don't get it, Laverne," he admitted. "We fixed everything y'can fix in that old thing and it still ain't startin'!"
Laverne's nose wrinkled. "Did the motor get in okay?"
"Oh yeah, but it turns out that it won't run on th oil they got. To they're flushing it and trying a new oil, then if THAT don't work they're gonna have to flood the radiator."
Laverne shook her head. "Jeesh, Len, I think it might be a good idea to get a new car at this point."
"A NEW CAR?" his eyes widened, his knuckles going white against the towel. "We put two hundred smackers into that thing!" he gestured toward the door. "We're two feet from being completely broke!"
"Oh no!" Laverne squawked. "The next time you need to order out for parts, just come and ask me," she suggested.
"Hah! Like you girls can afford it!"
"We can afford it better than you! We have another fifty bucks before we run out, and it's only three days to Burbank."
"Huh," Lenny muttered, scratching his chin. "Don't tell Squig ya got it, okay?"
"Wasn't planning on doing that," She sighed. "Look, Len, maybe it'll work if you give it time."
"That's what the garage guy said," Lenny shrugged. "Guess we're gonna be stuck here for awhile no matter what I do, eh?"
"Yeah," Laverne smiled. "Guess so." Laverne grumbled as she climbed to her feet. "I dunno about you, but I feel like bellying up to some good old-fashioned desert grub."
"I'm starvin'," Lennny admitted. "Do you think they'd take checkers?"
"You mean a check?"
He jingled his pockets. "Nah, checkers - that's all that I got left on me."
She sighed. Such a dope. "Why don't we go inside and see?"
The man behind the counter wasn't willing to take checkers, but he set up diner credit for them. They could work it off by washing dishes during peak hours, or they could pay it off before they left. Laverne didn't want a repeat of the Royal Cactus incident; she happily agreed to wash dishes for them at some point in the future. Stuffing themselves with thick ham sandwiches and bowls of chicken noodle soup, they considered what they might tell Shirley and Squiggy about the state of their truck.
"We'll say chickens got at it." Lenny nodded.
"Chickens?!" Laverne brayed. "Len, when was the last time you saw any chickens around here, huh? They'd probably believe armadillos."
"That's what we'll tell 'em," Lenny agreed readily. Then he put on his most serious face and said, "We can't go nowhere for another week, 'cause there's an armadillo on the radiator."
"Keep working on that," Laverne sighed. He stole a starlight mint from the cash register and they legged it back toward the inn.
Miss Kate, the owner and iron-willed ruler of the establishment, quickly informed them both that she hadn't seen Shirley since she'd completed her morning chores - their vacation had quickly turned into a working one due to Shirley's guilt. Laverne helped out around the place making beds, but Shirley scrubbed floors, washed toilets, and vacuumed rugs. Kate had insisted upon paying her, and most of the money had been squirreled away for use upon their eventual arrival in LA.
Which was the source of the money she'd told Lenny about. While Laverne had taken the opportunity to call ahead to search for available apartments and sprawled out in the sunlight, as well as trying to find some sort of job that would take two young unmarried women in sight unseen, Shirley had spent all of her spare time trying to carve out a place for them in the inn's social structure. It was an unusual turn of events - Laverne was normally one to wallow in the here and now, not Shirley.
"Where'd you see them, anyway?"
"Shirley said they were gonna go get some pop," Kate said, brushing her greasy hands against her jeans. "The last time I saw her, she and that Squaggly fellow said they were going to head up to the attic." They would have to search quite a few rooms to find the right one, but maybe they'd land there before Kat finished dinner.
As Kate told her to check the attic, Laverne wondered to herself what had happened to her best friend. Had her balloon landed? Or was she simply adjusting to this brand new world into which she'd been plunged?
Lenny accompanied her upstairs - with a big metal poker he'd lifted from the parlor fireplace. He hadn't wanted Laverne to go anywhere alone, and though she found his protectiveness adorable normally, at the moment it was completely annoying. Her attention was so thoroughly divided by all of these things that when she threw open the latch to the attic door she was forced to battle back a scream.
For this was where they found their best friends impassionedly kissing one another.
"Are you crazy?!" Laverne paced herself in circles, nearly running a divot through the rug as she gestured an flailed her arms about. "I don't believe you! YOU HAVE TO BE CRAZY!"
"Well..." Shirley began, but Laverne jumped into the verbal void and started raging again.
"Why would you kiss him? Squiggy of all men?! Here you are talking to me about how much you miss Carmine and how terrible it is that he's hundreds of miles away and you turn around and kiss SQUIGGY."
"Now Laverne..." Shirley said, a bit more strongly.
"And then you have the nerve to get on ME for leading Len on!" she shook her head. "Boy, of all of the lousy things to do! You know Squig ain't that handsome. Or popular. Or nice. Or good-smelling...I think you get my point here."
"Oh please. Continue to rub it in," Shirley sniffled.
Shirley's tears penetrated Laverne's anger, and she squirmed at the sight of her best friend's emotion. "Don't cry, Shirl," she said. "But I just wanna know - out of all of the guys in the world - why you picked Squiggy to make out with. He ain't even a doctor!"
"Well...it started this morning. You were off at the antique shop trying to get a job and I was here vacuuming. I got to the boys room and I found Andrew there alone, and he was so upset. He told me the boys..." she frowned. "It would be wrong for me to tell you what he said."
Laverne crept onto the mattress. "C'mon Shirl! We've been best friends forever, you know you can tell me annnnnyyythingg..." she leaned on Shirley's shoulder, hungry for gossip.
"There isn't anything to tell," Shirley sniffed. "He felt bad about it, so I tried to make him feel better. That's the only thing that happened in that room. Understand."
"Yeah..." Laverne kept rubbing her best friend's shoulder. "So did you let him take your clothes off?"
"LAVERNE!" she snapped. "I gave him a chaste little kiss. Now are we going to have dinner at the diner or are you going to make a federal case out of this evening's activates?"
"Nah," Laverne grinned. "I'm gonna let someone else do that for me."
Laverne eyed her best friend over her bowl of soup and a sandwich. Shirley had done herself up in a scarf and coat, looking exactly like a movie star gone incognito. The scarf was cute, but the wig was a bit much.
"Shirl," Laverne hissed. "You look ridiculous here!"
"Shh!" hissed Shirley, hunching closer to her sandwich. "You're going to attract attention!"
"So? Who're we showing off for? Is the queen in town?"
"No the queen's not in town!" Shirley hissed. "I'm trying to avoid Andrew after our unfortunate...incident."
Laverne could only gawk at her best friend. "You don't me you wasn't ashamed about that!"
"I'm not ashamed!" Shirley insisted. "But I don't want to bump into Andrew so quickly after our...intimate moment."
Laverne's eyes bugged out. "SHIRL!"
"Not that sort of intimate moment!" Shirley drew herself up proudly, strongly. "I don't want to lead him on," she explained quickly, crisply, and sat up as primly as possible. "Squiggy's not that bad of a guy...if you squint. And have a stuffed-up nose..."
"And you're blind," Laverne added. "Really blind."
"You don't have to be that mean," Shirley muttered.
"AHAH!" Laverne crowed, jabbing an index finger in Shirley's face. "You do have some kinda feelings for him!"
"They're not feelings! It's just concern. Innocent and innocuous concern."
"Fine," Laverne said. "Boy Shirl, it's gotta be the desert heat gettin' to you." She whistled, shook her head. "Or the loneliness that's getting us all down. Have you heard from Carmine lately?"
"He sent a postcard," Shirley said. "He's dealing with a bunch of senior tappers, and he's supposed to be taking them to a concert in Los Angeles."
"Y'see that?! Aww, that's great news. Maybe you'll get to spend a little time alone with him."
"If we ever get to LA."
"We will," Laverne sighed. "You finish up your soup." She started rolling up her sleeves. "I'm gonna get to work on the dishes."
It took her two hours of endless scrubbing to pay off her tab, but at least Laverne left the diner secure in the knowledge that she had managed to save herself and Shirley their get-to-LA fund. Laverne stumbled back to the inn with dishpan hands to find their room completely empty. She didn't even bother to hesitate before heading to the boys' room and gathering Lenny.
"I'm telling ya, Laverne, it's gonna be just fine!" he insisted, allowing her to drag him along as she tried to search the rest of their floor at top speed. "We'll find Shirl and Squig it'll be just fine."
"...AND Squig? He's missing, too?"
Lenny sputtered. "Uh, didn't I tell ya that he went off to go hustle some guys down at the roadhouse four miles up the road?" He laughed. "Cause I'm pretty sure I told ya he was gonna play pool."
"IT'S FOUR IN THE MORNING!" Laverne wrapped her head in a scarf and dragged him toward the doorway.
"I know! Laverne!" He pulled his collar from her grip with a cough. "I think we oughta stay here. I mean, maybe they went off together on purpose!" She glared him down. "Or...maybe they ain't even together...don't hit me."
"I'm not gonna hit you." Laverne said. "How're we gonna get to the bar?"
Lenny grinned. "Shaky Pete!"
"...This is Shaky Pete?" Laverne eyed the tattooed guy the boys had met back at the diner a few months ago. He looked remarkably hale and hearty for a man who'd been stirred from sleep just past midnight.
"You remember him, doncha Laverne?" Then he shouted into the cab, "hey Pete, make your tattoo dance for 'er!"
Pete started pulling his shirt toward his neck, and Laverne threw a hand across her eye. "GAH, all right, I remember him!" she shoved Lenny toward the open passenger side door of Pete's truck before tucking herself inside beside him and slamming the door. The red-painted tractor trailer was far from the ground, and Laverne felt as if she were floating through the sky. She waited for the car to turn over, and when it did she was launched against Lenny's shoulder, then the passenger side window.
Outside the world whizzed by, all dusty plots of dirt and scrub with the occasional rock formation of pale-colored shale and cactus. Laverne clung to Lenny's forearm until he complained, then stuck her head out the window to count stars, clouds and coyotes until they found the road house.
Dead Man's Curve was a tiny little roadhouse situated several inches up the road from the center of town, a lonely little dive with a huge neon sign and a big parking lot. There were an enormous number of chained-up Harleys and Indians, and an even larger number of trucks parked before the grey-brown slate of the establishment. Lenny bribed Pete to stay by promising he'd bring out a beer and a basket of popcorn, then climbed out after Laverne into the soft artificial glow of the neon lights. The porch was filled with bikers puffing away on their recently-purchased cigarettes, and they all hooted at her while she shoved them away and made haste into the bar.
The two of them weren't at the bar, nor were they clustered around the pool table. It was Laverne who spotted her best friend hanging around at the back of the room, huddled down with Squiggy,her hair still tied up in her kerchief.
Shirley tried to dive under the table, but Laverne met her halfway. "What are you trying to do, kill me? Why'd you sneak out with Squiggy?"
"I didn't sneak out. Andrew asked me out for a quick beer, and I thought it might be a pleasant change of pace from the tea back at the inn."
"Oh.." Laverne's anger deflated a tad. "How did you get down here, anyway?"
"We hitched!" Squig stuck his head under the table. "Hello," he piped to Laverne.
"Wouldya get out!" She yanked at his hair worm, then grabbed Shirley with her free hand. "Are you nuts?! You hitched to some weird road house in the middle of nowhere with SQUIGGY, after spending all day trying to avoid him."
"You were avoiding me?"
"Shut up!" She let go of Squig's hair worm with a final twist. "I dunno what's up your nose Shirl, but boy this ain't like you at all."
Shirley backed defensively up against the seats behind her. "Well, maybe is isn't. Maybe I don't want to be like the old Shirley anymore."
Laverne frowned. "So that's it? Why do you wanna change yourself like that?"
"BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS CHANGING!" Laverne winced at the nearly hysterical volume of Shirley's voice before rubbing at her ear. "We're moving cross-country to a state we've never been to! To stay there and live for the rest of our lives! We don't have jobs or an apartment, your father's going to have to pay for us to stay put and I don't want to owe him so much - he's such a nice man and I feel like I've spent years just sponging off of his sweetness. We'll get into debt to him so deep we'll going to have to work for him just like we did back in Milwaukee, and when I come home every night my hair's going to smell like pizza dough. They're living in a TRAILER, Laverne! I can't live in a trailer! I'll have to share a bathroom with your father and he walks around in his underwear and sings opera every morning!"
Laverne lightly smacked the back of Shirley's palm. "Wouldya calm down? You're getting hysterical on me!"
"Me?!" she shrieked. "I'm perfectly calm! PERFECTLY CALM!" She grabbed her clutch purse and said, "I'm absolutely fine and dandy! I'm going to have to live in a cardboard box and drink Coyote Sodys while we both starve out in the gutter. BUT EVEYRTHING'S FINE ISN'T IT LAVERNE?!"
"...If we're starving, how can we afford Coyote Sodys?"
"THAT'S NOT MY POINT!" Shirley frowned, continuing, "Laverne, for the first time in my life, I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen to me, what I'm gonna do when I finally get to California. For most of my life I've walked around believing I'd land a rich, handsome doctor, get married, then have three kids and a Station Wagon..."
"And a collie named Dave," Laverne interjected.
"Sometimes he's a cocker spaniel. But that's not the point. I've always been one for adventure, but it's not easy to keep your feet on the yellow brick road when there are so many changes going on around you! I'm scared about it, Laverne. For the first time in my life I'm actually scared about life!"
"So? We're all scared," said Laverne. "Even my pop was scared when he first moved out. I guess it's all natural - and the point is you won't have to be alone."
Shirley shrugged. "Maybe. Oh, gee, I just don't know! I'm afraid I'm going completely off the rocker emotionally sometimes!"
Shirley firmly shook her head. "It's not even Squiggy! He's just emblematic of my psychological suffering!"
"Geesh, thanks," Squiggy replied, peeping once more under the table. "You girls sure know how to shoot a guy down..."
"SHUT UP!" the two girls shoved him from out under the cloth and Laverne turned toward Shirley. "And so what? I don't either. Look at my Pop and Edna; they were completely new to LA when they moved there; five months later, they have a place in Burbank, a nice little trailer...with no rear axl...and they have each other." Laverne grinned and reached for her best friend. "Where's my best friend, huh? The one who forced me to eat all by myself 'til I learned how to be okay with being alone? The one who always tells me to keep my hopes high? Huh? What about balloons? What about ants and rubber tree plants?"
"Oh Laverne," Shirley admitted, sniffling her way toward a crying jag, "my rubber tree plant fell over and crashed my ants."
Laverne embraced her awkwardly, patting her back. "There, there, let it out, let it out....Desert heat's baking her poor brains," she muttered, rocking Shirley back and forth.
Suddenly, Lenny peeped under the table. "You girls done yet..." Then he noticed their positions and bit his palm.
"Get outta here!"
"Fiiine," Lenny whined. "But there's a big guy with hairy knuckles at the table complaining about Squig's tab, and he ain't listening to him."
"What?" both girls asked simultaneously. They surfaced, arms flailing, two minutes before Squig was pitched through the table face-down.
"Hey! Hey!" Laverne clambored up onto the sat behind her, but when they paid her no attention she plugged her index fingers into her mouth and emitted a piercing whistle. "What's your problem?" she asked the thug, then when he said nothing, "Squiggy, what did you do this time?"
"Nothing! I just ran up a tab at this gentledude's fine establishment, that's all!" He chuckled and slapped the guy's chest. "Now he was just correcting me about something. You see, we have a tab with him..."
"A tab you ain't able to pay off!" said the scary thug, cracking his knuckles menacingly.
"...And," Squiggy's voice cracked, so he yanked upon his lapels, "and," his voice was suddenly deeper, "I told him he's gonna have to wait a little bit for his dough."
"And I'm telling you you're cut off," the man said, advancing menacingly. "Our deal was you start bringing more business around and I'll look the other way when you started charging up. You've been welchin' on our deal ever since you started bringing little miss cream puff around." He cocked his head at Shirley.
"You never paid off your tab?" Shirley asked.
"Well, Shirl, I've got a bit of a money problem. I see money and I get this itch up and down my arm, and it don't go away unless I blow it."
Shirley responded by whacking him, squeezing a "WOMAN!" out of his lungs at top volume.
"Forget about that, wouldya please? Cream puff?!" Laverne pushed Shirley behind her. "Who're you calling a cream puff?"
"It's kinda clear she was talking about Shirl..." Laverne smacked the back of Squiggy's neck.
"Don't nobody talk to my best friend like that," snapped Laverne.
"Yeah?" the dude leered at Laverne. "Well, me and my boys say I can talk any way I want to." As if conjured, a row of men sitting at the bar turned about and stood, cracking their own knuckles menacingly.
Laverne kept her chin up, but she edged toward Lenny before letting them see the whites of her eyes again. "Whatt're we gonna do? There's forty of 'em and I only got one set of fists!"
"Laverne!" he scolded. "You've got me! And this chair leg!" He grabbed a severed table leg and brandished it menacingly.
"Len, that ain't gonna get us out of this!" She darted over to a free-standing pedestal table over-loaded with drinks and flung it onto the entire club. "That will!" she grabbed his hand and ran off, Squiggy right at their heels.
Only Shirley paused, and at that for a moment - and simply to take a picture of the now sputtering gang members.
Laverne managed to drag her away to the relative safety of the parking lot, though they barely managed to find the truck in time. Laverne threw her best friend over Squiggy's knees, accidentally knocking the wind out of Lenny as she kicked the cab's door shut with her heel.
"Drive!" she ordered Pete.
Pete jammed his foot down on the gas, running over an entire group of cars as the girls shrieked out their horror. In the cacophony, motorcycles revved; they were being followed!
Pete's friendship with the boys had to mean something to him, for he put peddle to the metal and hauled the semi as quickly as he could back to the inn, deploying every fancy move he could to get them off of his tail. Somehow, they managed to put the bikers in their rear view.
The truck screeched to a halt just before the inn's porch, and all four friends tumbled out. The foursome didn't realize they were trapped until they heard a vague rumble of bike engines echoing far in the distance.
"Now whatt're we gonna do?" Laverne worried.
Lenny grabbed her forearm. "You girls pay off the innkeeper and grab our stuff - me and Squig'll jump the truck!"
"But we don't even know if it's fixed!" cried Shirley.
"It's either that or we fight a buncha hairy-knuckled bikers in the middle of the desert."
"Good point." Squiggy and Lenny rushed back toward the truck, while Shirley stormed Kate's porch. This time Laverne stood frozen in the parking lot, and Shirley had to tug her toward their bedroom door. "What's wrong with you?"
Laverne shrugged and gave Shirley a grin. "I dunno, he's just so commanding when he's like that..."
"Would you forget about Lenny! He couldn't command his way out of a wet paper sack!!" She grabbed her overnight case and started grabbing items and shoving them away willy-nilly. "Here, start putting your things in here!"
Laverne had just enough time to pack away her sundry items before a cacophony began out in the hallway. A banging sounded from without, sending both girls into a simultaneous panic as they tried to ram their clothes into the suitcase.
Then a fist started slamming into the door. "Open up!"
"No way, you creeps!" Shirley cried.
"Yeah!" both women yelled.
That was when an axe chopped its way through the door.
Shrieking, the girls rushed about trying to find alternate escape routes, but there was only one; a ten foot drop to the ground
"Shirl!" Laverne said, clutching her best friend against her, their suitcases pressed hard between their bodies, "I've got a confession to make. I'm kinda scared too."
"OH LAVERNE, WE'RE ABOUT TO DIE, SO AM I!"
"NO!" Laverne cried. "I'm scared that if we follow my pop out to California I'll never get to have a life of my own?"
"Really?" Shirley wondered.
"Sure. Why do you think I've been avoiding calling him up?" The door started giving way and she clutched Shirley closer. "But I kinda want him now."
Below, a beeping sounded. To their wondering and completely shocked eyes, there appeared Lenny and Squiggy, complete with the ice cream truck! Both girls hollered as they leaned out the window.
Lenny leaned out the window , pointing toward the roof of the car, onto which they'd strapped a thick but very dubious-looking mattress. "They got all the doors surrounded!" he shouted. "If you wanna get down, you're gonna have to jump for it!"
"Okay!" Laverne threw her suitcase out the window, which Lenny managed to catch by the tips of his fingers. "Come on, Shirl!"
"Are you crazy!?" Hissed Shirley. "If we take that jump we'll lose our legs!"
The door splintered behind them.
"Better that than losing our heads!" Laverne grabbed Shirley's suitcase, pitched it out the window, then hauled her best friend over the sill. The two women grabbed hands, then closed their eyes and jumped with a scream.
By some vague miracle, they managed to land on the mattress, intact and breathing. The former part, unfortunately, could no longer be applied to the dilapidated mattress.
"Laverne!" Shirley cried, rising to her knees and spitting out handfuls of feathers, "are you all right?"
The first sign of life she received was a puff of feathers rising into the sky. Laverne kicked her way through the remnants of fluff, surfacing with a gasp. "I've got feathers where they shouldn't be, Shirl!"
"That's the least of our problems!" Shirley cried. "How are we gonna get..." she let out a shriek as she was sucked down through the feathers.
"Shirl?! SHIRRRL!" Laverne felt two hands grab her shoulders and drag her screaming through the feathers.
She found herself fighting and shouting in Lenny's arm.
"OW! Wouldya lay off!?" He clutched his jaw and glared at her.
"What's the big idea?!"
"Oh, only savin' your life!" he pouted at her childishly.
"Oh..." She dusted away another handful of feathers.
They both cringed as Shirley's palm met Squiggy's cheek. "That's for getting fresh!"
"WOMAN! I was trying to save your life!"
"Couldn't you have done that without looking up my dress?! She growled.
In the vague distance, the rumble of motorcycle engines could be heard. "Forget it! They're getting reinforcements!"
Lenny rushed toward the driver's side seat and revved the engine. "NO It's dry!"
"NO!" all three of his passangers shouted.
"Len, get off your can and do something!" Squiggy cried. "I'm too young and too handsome to croak!"
"I'm tryin'! We need a jump!"
"Lemme help!" Laverne cried. She followed him out and helped him rip the hood open. "Len! You're doing it all wrong!" A bottle shattered just by her head and she let out a cry, grabbing the cables and hooking them to the battery. "Like this!"
The engine sputtered and then gave a mighty roar as Squig turned the key, white sparks emanating from the clamps that Lenny and Laverne held.
They shared a grin, a dopey smile. "Wow...." He said. "Nice sparks."
She grinned back, then shoved him in the direction of the door. "Let's go!"
Just as they burrowed into the safety of the truck's, Laverne heard Shirley call Squiggy's name.
"Not now, Andrew."
They roared off into the night in complete silence.
Two weeks later, the girls sat together in Cowboy Bills regaling Frank with this story. Even Frank laughed as he sent them off to wait more tables.
"Just stay clear of those boys," Frank instructed.
"Trust me, Mister Defazio," said Shirley disdainfully. "Now that Carmine's here all of my questions have gone poof!"
"Yeah yeah," Laverne rolled her eyes and doffed her apron, then fluffed her hair out. "Hey Shirl, can you help my Pop close up?"
That earned her a look of surprise. "Why, aren't you feeling good?"
"Oh, I'm fine- I've just gotta head back to Bardwells, I forgot a scarf in the beauty department."
Shirley tisked her. "I told you not to play with the kids waiting to have their pictures taken!"
Laverne glowered. "You have your version of customer service and I've got mine."
Without a further word, Laverne proceeded out the door and into the vestibule of the resteraunt.
And on the doorstep stood Lenny with an enormous bouquet of flowers, which he thrust toward her.
"Thanks," she grinned.
He offered her his elbow. "I get to pick which monster truck we ride in," he declared.
"Okay, but I get to honk the horn!"
"You do not!" The argument was fond, promising, and carried out into the balmy California air as the twosome began their own private journey.