Marie woke up hungover in her Prius with vague memories of cheap champagne and a trophy. She groaned upright and struggled to recall the circumstances that led to crashing overnight in a downtown parking garage. Elusive flashbacks of the night’s excesses lapped at her conscience like the eddies of a changing tide: softball playoffs, the celebration at Bear’s Tavern, tattoos, shooters. Wait. Wait. Please, Lord, no tattoos this time.

Marie switched on the overhead light and was frantically checking herself for new ink when a volley of curses erupted behind the driver’s seat. She recoiled and checked the rearview mirror. A bloodshot pair of ebony eyes stared back at her. Ida, the softball team’s catcher emerged from a pile of ball bats.

“La chingada, kill the light,” said Ida. “On second thought, screw the light. Just kill me and be done with it.”

Marie switched off the light. “Likewise. Champagne and shooters. Whose dumbass idea was that?”

“You and Bear,” said Ida. “Rocky crashed the game party looking to hit me up for anything he could get. He got mean, like always, and Bear bounced him off the sidewalk. Bear was so happy about eight-sixing Rocky that he set up bubbly all around. The Jäger shooters was your dumbass idea.”

Marie fit Ida’s old flame Rocky into her growing list of recollections. Between incarcerations, he lived off a tired street-hustle and his old girlfriends. Despite repeated restraining orders, he had been Ida’s albatross since long before she and Marie were BFFs. Rocky was probably what inspired Maria’s jangled tattoo flashbacks. Besides the usual jailhouse facial ink, he sported full-sleeve tattoos on his arms and neck.

Marie checked her phone. “It’s 4 a.m.,” she said. She tucked her nose close to her shoulder and sniffed. “Booze and dirty socks. I stink.”

Ida silently sniffed around to determine her own status.

“I need a bath and a toothbrush,” said Marie. “I’m going home. Where’s your car?”

“On a meter by Bear’s?”

“Let’s go find it and call it a night.”

Ida moved up front and Marie started the engine. Steering left towards signage for the ramps to street level, she goosed the Prius and abruptly panic-braked. An unconscious man lay sprawled across the ramp belly up in the glaring headlights.

“Oh crap,” said Ida. “Check the tats–it’s Rocky.”

Marie edged the Prius closer. “He looks dead to me.”

“I should be so lucky.” Ida retrieved a ball bat from the back seat and tapped it against her palm. “Okay then, let’s move him out of the way.”

Marie set the parking brake and the pair exited the car, Ida wielding her ball bat cocked and ready. Like cats on a songbird stalk they warily closed the distance and stood over Rocky. Marie nudged his butt with her toe, and that’s when all hell broke loose.

Quick as a sprung jack-in-the-box, he rocketed upright to a boxer’s stance and launched a roundhouse punch at the nearest target–Marie’s head. Marie stepped out of reach and with a city girl’s instincts kicked him squarely in the cajones giving it everything she had. Ida unwound with the bat like she was reaching for the bleachers. She caught Rocky’s skull at full swing with a metallic “bonk” leaving an apple-size dent in his forehead. He managed one surprised grunt then dropped like a log and rolled down the ramp, his dinged head leaving behind a trail of bloody dashes.

“I could have just tooted the horn,” said Marie.

“Maybe we should check him out, try CPR or something. I really clocked him.”

“I’m not putting my mouth anywhere near him,” said Marie. “You go right ahead. I’ll wait.”

Ida looked up and down the exit ramp. “Nah, me neither. Wish I’d taken a bat to him a long time ago.”

“Well, he’s not blocking the exit ramp now.”

The tired women traded high-fives and returned to the Prius.

“He looked dead to me,” said Marie.

“He still does. Hurry up and find my car.”

They buckled up and headed out to cruise the neighborhood for Ida’s Chevy.

Bud Sabelhaus is a long-time tech worker who lives in the Tucson burbs with his writer-wife Cynthia. His writing credits include short fictions in Calliope and in a few now-defunct and mostly forgotten lit-zines.

Copyright © 2020 Bud Sabelhaus. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.