Irene Angelo is a not-so-small small business accountant in Reno, Nevada, the “Biggest Little City in the World” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). She typically wears combat boots, killer red tights, and sports an unbuttoned flannel shirt over a tank top sans bra, with intentionally messed up hair. There are equal chances of finding her rabble-rousing at Gino’s Reno Taproom or getting even more ripped at Virginia CrossFit (six-packs either way). She’s the accountant for both establishments.
Late one summer morning, Irene called her friend, Bjørn:
“Yornster! I’ve wrapped up my books for the week and I’ve got a hankering for a little break. You jumping today? If not, you should join me!”
“Why, thanks for reaching out to me, Miss Irene,” Bjørn replied, “Fortunately I have no jumps, so that would be splendid!”
Bjørn Stallard is a slender skydiving instructor who garnered his experience though the Special Forces, seeing intense ground action in two of three deployments. When not jumping from planes with tourists strapped to him, he dons tan khakis, loafers, and a nice button-up tee, finished off with a plain suede logo-free ball cap.
“Right on, bro! I’ll pick you up in ten!”
Irene showed up twenty minutes later (after looking for her wallet, then her keys), swung in front of Bjørn’s little cottage and pulled parallel to his newly-painted decorative fence in her Jeep Renegade, hardtop removed.
[Honk! Honk!] “Get out here Bjørn, you sonofabitch!”
Bjørn emerged from his front door with a chuckle, locked it carefully behind him, and trotted his way to the vehicle. He opened the door and stepped in.
“Hi, Irene, delightful to see you again.”
Bjørn clicked in and noticed that Irene wasn’t buckled.
“You plan to use your seatbelt, Irene?”
“Nah, this side’s busted. No biggie.” And with that Irene punched the gas and they sped away.
“Where are we heading?”
“Sushi today, Bjørn.”
[Led Zeppelin IV blared on the stereo.]
“I’m gonna take the back way to save time,” Irene announced and cranked a hard left onto a rutted dirt road.
“Gosh darn it, Irene, look at all the water from this morning’s thundershowers. By the way, those storms are the reason why my jumps were cancelled.”
Irene barreled straight through the center of the puddles. “Yaaahooo! This is awesome!”
“You know, you can’t really see the condition of the road; you might want to avoid those.”
“Hell no, amigo, I got spreadsheets deeper than these holes!” Irene retorted. “Yeeehaaa! This rocks!”
Bjørn gripped tightly as Irene bounced her rig ahead with Zep’s “Rock and Roll” blaring.
“Aaaaah! Eww, what was that?” Bjørn squealed in in a panic. A grasshopper had landed on his collar. Irene laughed as he flicked it away, but he remained freaked out for the remainder of the ride at the possibility of another insect encounter.
Irene completed her shortcut and sped onto the asphalt of town. Hungry, she chose to run a red light and performed a 180-degree power skid into a gravel parking area behind the restaurant.
[Cloud of dust blows away.] “I saw that in a movie yesterday and had to try it. Not bad, heh mother[expletive]?”
Bjørn freed his bloodless knuckles from the door handle, unbuckled, and escaped the vehicle.
“Why did you park in back?”
“It’s just fun to go through the service door. You, know, make a bit of a VIP entrance.”
The two were seated and made their orders. Bjørn, the Cucumber Roll (on Brown Rice) with Edamame and Miso Soup and a diet Coke. Irene, the Swordfish and a bourbon.
“So, how are things going at the office?” inquired Bjørn.
“Oh, you know, same-o same-o. Just crunching numbers and keeping everyone in good standing with the State of Nevada and the IRS. I’ve proven my skills and they now have me working for most of the big accounts.”
“Essentially a promotion, then?”
“Sure. Promotion, no commotion. Blah blah.”
“But more for you to put away in savings at least!”
“Ha. Good one, Bee-yo! Nah, I basically donate it all back to various establishments on the weekend! Just funding the Reno nightlife, my friend.”
“You puzzle me, Irene….”
“How about you Bjørn, how is it with the adventurous tourists?”
“Oh, very intense as always. Their anticipation of the jump, nerves, screaming, high-fiving afterwards. I got a promotion also, by the way…the owner says I have a calming effect on the customers and they recommend us to friends.”
“Way to go, man! So you’re the one building up savings…you’re not donating your raise to the clubs, right?!”
“No, not to clubs. Reno safehouses and the mission.”
“Of course. And how’s the novel coming along?”
“Oh yes, thanks for asking! I’m almost finished! Hoping to have a quiet evening after I clean house this afternoon to get back to that…”
“I still can’t believe you aren’t writing an adventure story or something about the military…using some of that experience and work adrenaline.”
“No thank you, Irene. Historical romance provides plenty excitement for me.”
“Sure, can’t wait to read it, amigo.”
As their conversation continued, Bjørn neatly polished off his cucumber roll and every last drop of soup, and Irene devoured most of her swordfish and a second whiskey.
“Are you okay to drive, Irene?”
“Of course. Better than before. Unless you insist on taking the wheel…”
“Oh, no thank you. I’m not sure I’m ready to operate anything more aggressive than my Subaru Justy. I might get overtaken by the power…”
“Good one, Yornster.”
At which time the waiter brought the check, which Irene snatched.
“I got it! This was my idea.”
[Irene flipped through a stack of credit cards and eventually picked one.]
“I think this Visa has some room on it!” Irene handed the slip and card to the waiter. “Let me know!”
The young man soon returned with the receipt and a thank you.
“Sweet! ‘Approved!’, she announced. “And I got travel points with that one!”
And with that, the two exited out the back and returned to the muddy Jeep.
“Let’s get back, Irene. I wish to get started on my vacuuming.”
“Like [expletive] you do! Let’s go off-roading!”
“Didn’t we already do that?”
“You’re funny, BJ!”, Irene retorted as her playlist now launched into Aerosmith. She peeled out and pointed toward the foothills.
To Bjørn’s relief, the Jeep soon sputtered to a stop.
“[Expletive, expletive]! Ran out of [expletive] gas [expletive] again!”
“You paid for lunch. I’ll acquire an Uber,” Bjørn offered.
Eventually they sorted out the fuel situation with a round trip ride and a new gas can purchase (Irene couldn’t remember where hers had ended up). Bjørn covered the gas as well as the container when Irene leaned that her Delta Visa was now maxed out. She felt bad enough that she didn’t force the issue. “I’ll run you home now, Yornster.”
“Via the pavement, please.”
“Sure, you pansy. Thanks for hangin’!”
Copyright © 2022 Richard Berndt – All Rights Reserved.
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