My rider flew down the steps, his body taught and lanky, bicep muscles poking out from below the sleeves of his T-shirt.
Obviously it wasn’t Marge, the name on the Uber ping.
He slid into the shotgun seat and pulled a cold bottle of Bud Light from his backpack.
My best mother voice: “You’re not going to open that, are you?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it, dearie. Spoil such a lovely lovely lovely Uber lady. Why would I? See, it’s between me legs, it is. Safe and sound. Why would you worry?”
Oh, there were so many ways to answer that, but I never got the chance.
“Name’s Kai, from Sydney. You know, Sidney? Of course you do. I’m on a quest, my dear, a quest to capture the woman of my dreams.”
Said woman was 25 miles north of the coast, deep within the bowels of Coto de Caza, through the portals of Aliso Viejo. An address on Shady Hollow Lane.
“Shady Hollow Lane, straight out of Brothers Grimm, I say. Ever heard of it, Shady Lane? My princess, in a tower, and me a professional personal trainer. It was fate, that I would train to gain the strength to climb to rescue her. Did I tell you I’m an actor? People don’t believe me, but I’m rather famous in Australia. Name’s Kai. My day job, my day job’s a personal trainer.”
He took a breath. Before I could ask him how his name was spelled, or what TV shows he’s been on ‘enough so that the folks don’t leave me alone in the streets of Sydney’, he started speaking again. Later, I Googled “Australian Actor Kai”. Nothing. A couple of references to a TV series from the 1999, so unless he had discovered the fountain of youth, my passenger was a bit south of the truth.
GPS found Shady Hollow. As I turned the corner, I asked him where he had met this princess, the woman of his dreams, the one he was going to marry.
“Las Vegas. Three days ago. Did I tell you she’s the most beautiful woman in the world?”
I stopped the car at the bottom of the steps. He peered up, through the thick bougainvillea, as if tuning his X-ray vision.
He slowly opened the car door, inhaled deeply, as if he were about to dive to the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, then turned back toward me and raised the beer bottle into the air. A toast.
“Here’s to you, Uber lady. G’day, g’day,”
He took the steps two at a time, up to the condo’s front door. Like a helicopter parent lingering outside the gym after delivering her son to the prom, I longed to stay, become that fly on the wall [or moth in the bougainvillea] to see what would happen, but my next Uber pinged. I had another fare.
I like to imagine that Kai and his princess flew back to Sydney, their bottles of Bud Light gently vibrating side by side, in synch with the plane’s jet engines.
Maybe once, just once, what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas.