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"Mishaps of Mark & Marie - Episode 1: Take me out..."
The young couple arrived to the near full parking lot with almost no time to spare. The driver, a young man in his early twenties who didn't even want to be here, sat there just waiting for the complaint that was sure to come. He waited, peripherally looking to his right at the passenger hoping for once she would keep quiet about him missing the exit.
“Seven dollars,” said the parking attendant abruptly.
The driver looked to his left, then back to his right holding out his hand. His passenger, a scowling woman also in her twenties, glared in his direction as she blindly rummaged through her red, leather purse. After only five seconds, she yanked out a ten dollar bill and slapped it into his open hand, scratching her nail across his palm in the process.
He sighed in pain as he handed it to the parking lot employee in the orange vest. He looked back at her, who now had her hand open. He looked at her face in annoyance as she stared away from him, chewing on her own cheek. He glared at the side of her head as the attendant peered his head inside the window.
“Here's your change,” said the attendant annoyed at the driver.
The driver squinted in derision at her before turning back to the attendant and grinning like a serial killer.
“It's all yours, buddy,” he said just before snatching the parking ticket and driving into the lot.
He looked at her hand with a smirk on his face to see her open palm transforming into a veiny fist. She closed her purse and angrily breathed through her nose like a frustrated warthog. They both looked out their separate windows for a place to park as they listened to the cheers of the crowd erupt from the stadium in the distance. She huffed and growled through her tightened lips as he drove around looking for a place to park the SUV.
They were both on high alert as he drove the car down a crowded aisle; she knew the drill. They peered through their respective windows, looking for a place to park in the seemingly full parking lot. The passenger fought every urge to say I told you so.
“No, no, no,” she mumbled to both lack of spots and her own unleashable anger.
“Anything,” he asked, regretting his own dialogue.
“No, no, no,” she said louder.
She shot him a look of derision, then out of the corner of her eye she saw a spot far in the distance. She squinted ahead, through the windshield, to see an empty parking space at the very end of the aisle. She held up a finger and pointed to the spot.
“There,” she said like a Vietnam lieutenant, “Up ahead.”
The driver followed her finger to it’s destination and stomped on the gas. The SUV raced down the aisle as he danced inside his skin and cheered for the future. This is just what he need right now. She could be right and he could commend her on a job well done; everyone’s happy. He slammed on the brakes with a gasp when he saw the Fiat parked deep inside the “empty” space.
The driver dropped his head in defeat on the steering wheel repeatedly as the passenger shook her head in disbelief. He wanted to just drive home, but he knew that wouldn’t help anyone. He picked his head up and took a look around until he saw the last resort; the open field far in the distance.
“Screw it,” he said slamming the accelerator.
After a short drive passed the end of the aisle, they were in the gravel field. The SUV was kicking up pebbles behind it as it drove through the “no parking” signs and reached the cones a half mile away. He parked next to the first cone and peeked out the window.
“Hello!” he yelled, waving at another parking attendant.
The attendant gave him a thumbs up. The driver rolled up the automatic windows and placed the ticket stub on the dashboard. The passenger let out an aggravated sigh as she gathered her purse.
“You know,” he said opening his door, “If you were ready on time-”
What are you doing? He thought.
“What?” she said, kicking open her door, “What if I were ready on time?”
“We’d still be late?” he asked with a sarcastic smile.
She glared, then exited the car before slamming it shut. He shut his door with less force, then started walking towards the stadium. She jogged through the dirt and rocks to catch up with him because she was damned if he was going to leave her in the dust. Little victories, was her thinking. After a few moments, they were walking on flat concrete through the normal parking lot.
“Oh,” he said, seeing a spot on the next aisle from where they gave up.
“What?” she asked, scraping her shoes, trying to get the pebbles out of their grooves.
“Nothing,” he said not seeing any point in incriminating himself.
They speed walked through the aisle until they reached the entrance to the parking lot, where they would cross the street to the walkway to the gate of the stadium. She grabbed his arm to slow him down and pull herself ahead. He looked both ways as they prepared to cross the street to the stadium property.
“Why are you looking both ways?” she asked, “Everyone else is already inside.”
He snorted in exasperation, then stomped across the street. She jumped into a stride top try and keep up.
“You have the tickets, right?” she asked.
“Yeah yeah yeah,” he said waving her off.
The walked through the baseball exhibit that seperated them from the gate. He had his eyes on the prize and was just looking to the future, while his significant other was admiring the baseball player topiaries, team flag, and staues. They were holding hands, but not lovingly, more like he was yanking a leashed animal to move faster.
Once they reached the gate, they were stopped by a man in normal clothes and a Barrington Broncos ballcap.
“Tickets please,” he said sternly as the sound of a crack and cheering echoed behind him.
“Yeah,” said the male companion, reaching into his back pocket.
After his back pocket, he checked his front two, and finally his shirt pocket. He looked to the wide-eyed woman who was now glaring at him with her hands on her hips.
“Tickets?” he asked.
“My God!” she yelled walking away from the gate and into the shade.
“I’ll be right back,” he said to the gateperson loud enough so she could hear.
He turned and ran back the way he came. He raced through the topiaries, across the street, through the parking lot, and up to the car. He scrambled for the keyless remote and pressed the button. He opened the door and immediately saw the tickets in the center console, staring him in the face. He snatched them up and raced back to his beloved.
Once back to the gate, he huffed in pain through his chest as he handed the tickets to the man in the red hat. He looked around for his girlfriend as he caught his breath. The stadium employee handed him his stubs as she came out from behind the wall a few feet away.
“Ready?” she said exhaling smoke.
“Are you...smoking...again,” he said still regaining his oxygen levels.
“I’m never out of breath,” she said walking to him.
They walked through the turnstile and into the ramp of the stadium leading to the seats and were greeted with programs and a free hat for each of them. They were cheap velcro hats, but free was free. They looked at the scoreboard in the distance and it informed them that they had missed three and a half innings.
“If only-” she began angrily towards him.
“Hey folks!” said a man in a suit and a laminated lanyard, approaching them, “When has being late ever paid off?”
“Never,” he said looking to his girlfriend.
“Until today,” said the sharp dressed man, “Listen, my name’s Larry O’neil and I am the genereal manager of operations for the stadium. I have to go, my wife just went into labor.”
“Oh my God,” she gasped, “Congratulations.”
“Yeah, congrats,” he said begrudgingly.
“At any rate,” he continued, holding out two pieces of paper, “These are guest passes to my box. I hope this improves your day.”
They took the pieces of papers from his hand, thanked him with gasps and giggles as he left the stadium. They walked until they found their destination, which required an elevator ride, and were greeted with a fantastic unobstructed view of the field, good food, air conditioning, and champagne. They sat in the comfortable seats for two full innings as they internally ran through the days events; they both came to same realization as they held hands in the private skybox.
“I love you, Marie,” he said, looking into her eyes.
“I love you too, Mark,” she said before kissing him.
The Broncos lost, but neither one of them cared.