Sixth Street | Jan 17 | 5:27pm
I exploded out of the liquor store with a bag of groceries for Brundle and a bottle for me. I almost wanted to slide across the hood to reach my door faster, but I never tried it before, and the car body was pretty rusted.
You now have 17:24 left to make this delivery.
The time limits are bullshit. I’m not a machine. Whoever sends me all those messages doesn’t respond to my complaints that they don’t figure in traffic or lines at the store. I have to deal with the real world and they don’t.
I got in and jammed my Sauv Blanc under the passenger seat, along with a couple of Brundle’s honey snacks he’d never notice were missing. I was gonna make this one. I had to know what happened if I actually made one of those impossible time limits, but the shitty transmission of my ’91 Corolla wouldn’t let me pull away from the curb in time to catch the light.
Stuck at 6th and Howard, I turned and saw furniture trying to crawl out of windows in the building next to me. San Francisco is crazy sometimes, and I had less than 17 minutes to get to North Beach.
The light changed. I jammed gears and peeled out. The intersection was a dot in my rear view mirror while the other cars were still crossing it.
I swerved to avoid a shiny new black Scion pulling out of a parking space and flipped them off as I went by.
I saw the cross traffic ahead on Market Street and coasted the rest of the block while opening the wine bottle with one hand. I felt like a better driver on whites, and I’d need every bit of that advantage. Plus, I wanted to make full use of the twist off cap.
My phone actually rang.
I sure as hell didn’t want to talk to that guy, but Tinkerbell called me from that number once. It was a risk, but I also never had a chance to use the speakerphone before.
“Roger?” I dropped the phone in the passenger seat.
“How did you know?” Tinkerbell’s voice was playful, and my fantasies came rushing back. Her tight young body, all that blonde hair.
I tried to sound casual. “How’ve you been?” I was ready to play her game. My dick was out of retirement. There was no reason this couldn’t happen.
“I’m so booored.” She stretched out the last word. This was getting better and better. “Roger’s working all the time, and I have nobody to have fun with.”
The blood was already moving into my cock. “If you want some company–” I swerved around a truck and sped up. “Hey, why do you always call on Roger’s phone?” I wonder what her tits look like.
“His phone? Oh, he gave it to me when he started his new job.”
I saw where Taylor narrowed up ahead, but I could cut down Bush over to Powell. “I could have called you this whole time?”
She giggled, and I felt my heart beat faster. “Doesn’t mean I’d pick up though.”
“Well, what’s his new job?” I was kind of hoping he was fired and I would never have to see him again.
“This is not about me telling you things.” Her playful tone was gone, but then it came back. “I mean, what are you doing later, big boy?”
I slammed on the brakes to keep from running over a guy on a bike. “Son of a bitch!”
I spotted the cardboard tube coming out of his shoulder bag. Bike messenger. They thought they were so cool because of their physiques and their maneuverability. I had my tricks too. I drank more wine.
“What?” Tinkerbell was still on the line.
“I’m in traffic.” I thought about the wager with Harry, checked my blind spot and took the left onto Powell. “Let me ask you something, did you ever have sex with my friend Harry, short hair, dispatcher, used to call himself Hans?”
She got excited. “Hans?” I might have already lost. “Actually, that’s what I wanted to ask, if I could use your computer.”
I braked again at the top of the hill. Tourists were pilling out of a cable car in front of me, filling up the intersection.
“I don’t have a computer.” I honked at the tourists and stepped on the gas in neutral to keep the engine from revving up on its own. There were six minutes left to make the delivery.
The tourists ignored me and took pictures of each other. Tink’s voice got harsh. “You don’t—” I could hear her trying to calm down, and the sweetness came back. “But you can get me in your network, right?”
Through the wine and frustration, I didn’t care what the big deal was about a computer. I just wanted her. That’s all that mattered. If she wanted something from me, there had to be a way I could use that to get laid. “Yeah, sure. I do all kinds of things like that.”
Tinkerbell didn’t say anything.
I leaned on the horn, inching forward. The tourists shouted at me in German or something, but they moved enough for me to get onto California.
“I’ll call you, Winston.” She hung up on me. I had to get North again.
There was a “no left turn” sign at the next corner, but I went that way anyway. I was pissed and confused and horny and in a hurry, but I slammed on the breaks before I went off the top of the Stockton Street Tunnel.
I was alive, but that was it, no chance of making the delivery on time.
A siren came on somewhere behind me.
My gut tensed. It was the cops, and I was facing a dead end — no way to run for it. The siren got closer and closer. Lucky I had a hiding spot ready for my bottle and stolen honey snacks for my breath.
My passenger seat lit up.
You have made an illegal turn. Please avoid doing so in the future.
The goddamn location sensor in my phone told Hans every turn I made. It felt like everyone was out to get me, but then the cop car went past without pulling in behind me, speeding off to go deal with some other nearby crime.
The cop car was a coincidence.
That means Hans knew I broke the law but didn’t tell the cops. He just told me. Whoever’s watching me, they keep that kind of stuff inside the company. That’s a relief, but also terrifying.