Page 13 Cartoons

“Going for the Western” by Carolyn DeCarlo

November 6, 2008

John held Susan by the elbow as they walked across the lot toward their new car. He held the door for her as she slid in, before bounding to the driver’s side and slamming the door after him. He checked behind him before easing the car out onto the road. They needed to get moving if they wanted to reach Las Vegas by midnight.
Susan arched her back and curved her neck to the left, peeking between the seats. “Lots of room back there,” she commented. Her heart was still beating two times too fast. She had never seen so much red paint, so much cream leather before. “We’re sitting on some goddamn soft cows.”
Susan was jolted out of her thoughts as the car swerved to the left. John had taken his eyes off the road as he reached up to ease the fabric of the convertible top back behind their heads. “Can you jump on back there and fix us up, baby?” John asked Susan with a lopsided grin.
Susan squirmed in her seat, pivoting between the front seats and hoisting herself far enough into the back seat to push the convertible top down to rest in place. She felt a bit self conscious; she knew her skirt was a little too short and John was guaranteed to be staring. She looked around from her place in the back seat; by now, they had made it to the highway. The desert extended in every direction possible. The night was clear and perfect; the velvety black sky dotted with sequins.
“Susie Q, why don’t you come back up here where I can see your cute ass?” John drawled.
Susan complied, but once she was tucked into the jump seat, she looked over at John. Glancing hesitantly at first, her gaze whipped back over to John and she drew in a sharp breath as she stared at his ear. “I told you not to call me that,” she said, softly but with a subtle confidence, “Or Susan. I’m Martha now, Mrs. Martha Washington.”
“Okay, Martha. What do you want for dinner, Mrs. President?”
She smiled shyly. John had been her man for six years and he still made her nervous sometimes. She was proud of herself, and what they had just done. Part of her still couldn’t believe it. She was the best damn assistant John could ever ask for. “What can you eat that’s three thousand dollars?” Susan asked.
They had put John’s black dress socks on their faces before they jumped out of their old clunker—what a car; it had only taken them five blocks from the bank when it started making that funny noise. On an impulse, John decided to trade it in for a new 1958 Thunderbird before the cops could even figure out what was going on. Cranbrook was a slow town and things like this never happened.
The sock had been itchy. Susan was surprised she could see out of it as well as she could; she knew the people in the bank couldn’t see her. They had planned it out over breakfast. John was to take the lead and Susan would hold the gun. She could shoot pretty well, but she sure didn’t want to. John said he knew it would look better if the man was holding the gun but they both knew Susan couldn’t be trusted to get what they wanted. “You’re not the best with speeches, darlin’,” John had said.
They stopped at a diner in New Mexico, a real greasy spoon. “Pancakes?” John asked. Susan gave him a fierce, happy look. “Not tonight. I’m going for the Western tonight.”
“Baby, you sure do like them omelets when you’re proud. I’m glad you’re so pleased with yourself. You should be. We pulled off a real great heist today. I couldn’t a’ done it without you, sugar.” John leaned across the table and landed a quick kiss on her forehead.
After dinner, it was back to the road. “When we get to my sister’s place, what do you think we’re gonna do, Johnny?” Susan trained her owl eyes on John’s ear, following his sideburns down to his stubbly chin. They hadn’t showered yet today and she wondered if they’d get to.
As if reading her mind, Johnny said, “Well I don’t know about you, but I’m going to take a nice, long hot bath and if I fall asleep after there’s no harm in that.”
Susan shivered. “No, Johnny, I mean with our lives.” She pulled a flowered scarf from her bag and tied it around her face and under her chin, keeping her hair back and warming her ears.
“You sure look silly like that, Susie. I mean, Martha Washington, excuse me,” Johnny said with a smile.
Susan ignored his last comment. She knew she would finally get the answer she wanted after how proud Johnny was of what she’d done today. She had to ask him. “Let’s get married, Johnny,” Susan stared at John, imploringly. “Don’t you want a baby soon? We can stop all this nosing around and start a real life. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
Susan had been waiting an awful long time for Johnny to come around. He knew how important it was to her for them to get hitched but he always had an excuse. Sometimes she thought maybe she wasn’t likable enough, sometimes it was her lack of smarts. She knew she wasn’t getting any younger. After what she’d done for him today she thought she’d finally caught him.
“Baby, that’s a lot of talkin’ about marriage for one night. I’ve had just about as much as I can take on the subject. I love you, baby, but it just ain’t a good idea.”
“Oh Johnny,” Susan flopped down in her seat, pushing her knees toward John and leaning on the door a little. “It’s just an idea,” Susan conceded, rubbing the arch of one foot with her thumb. A giant green sign declared that they were ten miles from Nevada. “And keep your eyes on the road.”

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