A short story featuring characters from The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries. This story goes back to Belinda’s early adventures learning to drive the cupcake truck.
Bennett had deemed that day the perfect day for Belinda to practice driving the cupcake truck. In her opinion, no day was that day, but he insisted. And since he didn’t seem to have a lot of other things to do, she figured she should humor him.
Driving the truck along the back roads near her house was not a big deal. A little scary at times, but nothing she couldn’t handle. It was downtown that freaked her out. Among the bumper-to-bumper cars and swarms of pedestrians and cramped spaces, she felt like she was driving a tank, not a truck. But Bennett assured her she could get used to it if she just drove it and parked it more. Belinda wasn’t sure she believed him, but whatever. It was too late now.
They turned around at the visitor’s center to head in the right direction. He was going to make her park. She could feel it. And would she say no and keep driving home? Of course not. She would obey because she felt bad about everything and wanted to make him happy. Not that this would actually achieve that, but maybe it made him feel useful.
They neared the area where she and her cousin usually settled in on the weekends and Belinda curled her fingers around the steering wheel. It was coming. She could practically hear the words dripping off his tongue now.
“It’s not too busy,” he finally said as they approached a red light. Almost an echo of her mental vision. “Why don’t you try to park up here?”
Belinda moistened her lips. Why not? How hard could it be?
The light turned green and Belinda pulled forward slowly, turning on her signal, and watching for pesky pedestrians. The least awesome thing about driving in downtown at that time of year. Of course, she was often one of them.
She pulled over as much as she could and shifted into reverse, licking her lips again. This is where it would get interesting. She could barely parallel park her Mini Cooper, let alone a tank. She heard Bennett say something about taking it slow. She tapped the accelerator, but it wasn’t quite doing it. So she tapped a little harder.
“More gas,” he said, hanging his head out the side to spot for her.
She finally stomped down on the accelerator and the truck bolted backward at an angle, bashing into a lamppost. The lamppost tipped over like a felled tree, the light shattering into a million tiny pieces on the brick sidewalk.
Belinda stared straight ahead with her hands still gripping the steering wheel.
Bennett turned slowly to look at her. “Well, you gave it more gas.”
“This is your fault!”
“How is this my fault?”
“You made me parallel park and I hate to parallel park!”
“I just made a suggestion.” Bennett held out his hands in surrender. “You didn’t have to park if you didn’t want to.”
“Nothing with you is a suggestion. It was a command with a question mark at the end for good measure.” She started to shake.
Bennett took one of her hands and rubbed it between his. “This is not a big deal. It’s okay.”
“I just knocked over a lamppost! I could’ve killed someone!”
“That’s why we did this now when there aren’t many people around. No one was here when it happened. It’s fine.”
“Goodness only knows what they’ll fine me for this! And the news…” Belinda crumpled. “What if those stupid reporters hear about this?”
Bennett put his arm around her. “They are not going to report about this on the nightly news.”
“Why not? Why shouldn’t they? How often does a crazed cupcake truck driver crash into a lamppost?” Belinda fought with the seatbelt and climbed out, half-staggering to the back to see the damage. She’d taken out the tail light along with the lamppost.
Belinda rubbed her hands up and down her cheeks. This was bad. Bad, bad, bad.
She blocked out the curious gazes of passersby while they talked with the police. She wouldn’t know how much she’d be shelling out for the lamppost until later. The traffic ticket was bad enough. And now she had to get the taillight fixed–and before Saturday.
“Time for a detour,” Bennett said, putting his arms around her. “Coconut cake is just up the street.”
Not a permanent fix, but Belinda would take it.
~ * ~
See more of Belinda and Bennett in The Belinda & Bennett Mysteries.