Ninja-sky and Penelope On the Road (excerpt Flea Market Kings)


After Ninja-sky failed to talk his friend Howard (the Duck) into giving over the keys to his folk’s spare Volvo, he settled on another plan. He decided to borrow Rebecca’s old Pontiac Transport. It was a terrible idea, and he knew he was asking for a lot of trouble, but Rebecca didn’t use the car very much—he didn’t know about the new flower shop job—just a weekly visit to the grocery, and to mom’s. There was a good chance, he surmised, that he could be gone and back before anyone even knew the car was missing. The computer had said about seven and a half hours to Lexington and he double that figure and presumed he’d be back early enough to slide the car under the tree in the driveway before noon. As far as he could tell the car was flat out ignored most of the time.
A side benefit to grabbing Rebecca’s keys, using his flash mode, was that there was a GPS unit in the car. Ninja-sky was fairly certain he couldn’t find his way across town and back without one telling him each turn to take. When he rolled up in the minivan, parked at the end of the cement walk leading to the front door, and Penelope darted out of the house in flip flops and her usual skinny pants and jumped in beside him as if it were the most regular thing, he felt himself greatly expanded. His head swam with what he usually thought of as his silly cousin’s affection. She beamed at him, hugged him, pecked his cheek. She clutched a little slip of paper with the address she smartly started plugging into the Tom Tom unit as Ninja-sky rolled smoothly away.
She popped the Stones CD out of the player.
“You didn’t bring anything?” Ninja-sky quizzed her.
“What do I need? I’ve got the money, and we’re going to get my stuff.” Her grin shunt down any of his usual protestations, snacks, or a change of shoes, or . . . well it’s not like he brought anything.
Penny played the license plate game, pointed out each cow, if billboards were along the road, she read each one out loud. She thoroughly seemed to be enjoying herself and Ninja-sky continued to sink into a worry spiral.
They burned through a tank of gas before they got much past Winston-Salem. For some reason the GPS kept having them get off the highway, go a few miles on backroads, and get back on the highway. After this happened four or five times, Ninja-sky could take no more and pulling over, he reset the GPS to make sure his cousin had not asked for a scenic tour of Mayberry.
“I didn’t! I said fastest route!” she protested loudly, she had her long, bare feet up on the dashboard and was leaning back in the Transport seat, toying with her phone.
“Get your feet off the damned dashboard, you’re not a little girl!” he growled at her, surprising himself with his testiness.
“If I were little I couldn’t reach,” she joked, soothing his crabbiness with a big smile. She pulled her knees to her chest and picked some of the cracking nail polish off one of her toes and dropped her feet to the floor.
“This is a loaner, you know, I don’t wanna mess it up,” he hadn’t told her that he’d stolen it. She thought he was borrowing his friend’s spare family car.
“C’mon let’s just stop someplace I have to pee,” she moaned.
He sighed deeply and admitted to himself that the all night drive may have been over-reaching his abilities. The computer had said a little over seven hours for the trip, but at two A.M. it was hard to think of more road time in this darkening country side.
“Can we find a town? It’s a little scary out here, like a horror movie,” she wasn’t smiling.
“Yeah we need gas anyway,” he moped.
They found their way in to Mount Airy, gassed up, ate at the Sonic Burger, used the filthy facilities, and then, at the Lowe’s supermarket, grabbed a few items for car camping: cheap toothbrushes, a large bottle of water, a hairbrush, a fleece blanket, and a bag of Skittles all paid for with Penny’s plastic. Ninja-sky didn’t say anything, he just accepted the toothbrush.
Ninja-sky parked the minivan at the far end of the parking lot under a row of crepe myrtles and, intending only to snooze for a little bit, fell dead asleep. He awoke from a dream about cops and sirens, to Penny snoring. Her snores amazed him a bit, they were nearly as rich and vibrant as his father’s, resonating about the car.
Ninja-sky opened the door, noticed the business briskly going on at the supermarket and stood up stretching. He saw a police car slowly cruise up the cross street, the officer sipping his coffee, completely uninterested in him. He farted a few steps away from the car.
“Hey! Wake up!” he said, jumping back into the driver’s seat and callously waking Penny from a mid-snore.
“What? Are we there?” she said, rubbing her eyes and dropping the fleece off her lap, where she had her thighs wrapped around the large bottle of water and toothbrush as if protecting it from thieves. She’d also pushed her pants off her hips.
“How come your pants are off?” he said aghast.
“I was hot, OK?” she shook her head and yanked them back up over her pink panties.
Ninja-sky got a good and delightful look at her perfect creamy rump.
“What time is it?” she cutely curled up on the seat again.
He checked his inexpensive flip-phone, “It’s eight-thirty already! Fuck! I expected to have this damned thing back before noon!”
“Can’t I just sleep some more? I’m not driving,” she curled into a ball. Her chin on her knees, her eyes, seemingly huge, were closed.
He slammed the door shut and started the engine. He half considered ending the trip, just turning around and going back, but, it was already done. The die had been cast, he thought, it won’t be any easier answering what we did this morning or this afternoon. He yanked up the GPS and turning it on waited for the satellites to be acquired.
“How far is it to Lexington?” he burped softly, he wanted something to eat to settle his stomach.
The girl ignored him, fluttering her long lashes.
His resolve bottomed out when it came back with a little over five hours to Lexington. Five hours! That’s twelve hours still! he thought to himself, still simply adding the travel back time and wholly underestimating time needed for rest and refuel. But, looking at Penny, he somehow convinced himself it’d be OK, that the gambit would still work, or at least Rebecca would fail to report the car missing, for a while. He desperately did not want to disappoint Penny. He felt like any kind of manliness he’d built in the last ten hours was worth incredible cache.
He rolled the Transport out to Route 52, where the cop had gone by, and in a few minutes, while Penny finally roused herself awake, picked up Route 77 which would get them most of the way to Lexington.
“I’m hungry,” she pouted.
“Eat the skittles,” he grumped and fumbled with the radio, settling for the classic rock.
“We need some real food. There!” Penny pointed as a sign for gas, food, and lodging whipped past them.
“Penny! We can’t stop every five fucking minutes! We wasted a ton of time!”
“What’s the big deal? I just wanna get a coffee and something from a Dunkin Donuts or something.”
“We need to do better on time, we’re killing a lot of time, we only got a little time. We gotta get back!”
“Which way are we going? Are you sure you’re going the right way?” she suddenly took an interest in the navigation, looked at the GPS possibly convinced he was bailing out on the trip.
“Yes we’re going the right way.”
“No one is going to miss us,” she said dropping the GPS back on the console. “they think we’re at at school and going to a game tonight,” she smiled, having thought up the game date excuse herself and needing Peter for her escort.
Ninja-sky hadn’t heard the game date part of the plan before, “What game?”
“Tonight’s game, I told them that we’d be going to the Trojan’s game tonight.”
“Why the hell’d you do that? I don’t go to games!” he got rather shrill.
“It gave us more time, and I do go to games, and you’re coming with me!” She smiled that I’m-a-good-influence-on-you smile.
“I don’t think we should just keep stopping every time a town rolls by.”
“I’m not asking you to! Ugh! Am I asking you to do that? I am not! I just want breakfast. Normal people eat breakfast.”
He found argument futile and acquiesced as they crossed the Virginia boarder. They didn’t find a Dunkin’ Donuts but were able to get some breakfast in a Fancy Gap convenience store.
“OK, now that you got your damned coffee, can you let me just drive this thing.”
“Look at this!” she dangled a keychain with a small plastic mountain on it, across the base it read: Fancy Gap, Va. “Fancy Gap! it’s so cute!”
“Yeah, OK, are you ready to get the rest of this done now?”
“Yup!” she smiled and put her lanky left arm around his waist as they approached the van.
Ninja-sky glanced around the little crossroads with remarkable unease, but not a soul seemed interested in them. Penny pecked him on the cheek as she circled the car and both got into the car like they were some young couple, pulled out like a young couple, and got back on the route as if it were the most natural thing. Ninja-sky kept being amazed that things were so easy. The dingy white Transport was such an innocuous, seemingly invisible, vehicle. No one looked at them.
Two and a half hours later, during which time Penny talked nonstop about her friend Gail who expected her to take a jazz dance class with her, and while Penny was not adverse to this, she was not fond of several of the very well described bitches who would be in the class, . . . they gassed the minivan up in Charleston, West Virginia, got some more snacks and got back on the highway. The scenery was breathtaking. Many low green mountains heaped on the horizon, something Ninja-sky was unused to.
Then Penny told him all about her favorite television shows, and especially filled him in on every plot detail of a new cable series called Pangolin that features a superhero, though he’s a different superhero, not like the rest, like The Torpedo, or Howler, or Cervantes in which they just have some kind of power, like electric shocks, blisteringly loud bellowing, or amazing verbal skills. No. Instead Pangolin is a full on character who already secretly runs the world from his shadow cabinet and is a scientist, and also a revered artist, plus, Penny thinks, he may also be controlling the populace through clever, hooky, popular songs, he’s like a song-writer-producer and there seems to be a connection between people’s mood and the music they consume, . . . do you think that’s true? Oh and he has this girlfriend that he is the most spectacularly devoted lover to, he takes such amazing care of her, and she has no idea what he’s doing, ha! She’s kind of a sweet twit. And they live in this great apartment, very funky, in some, it turns out, imaginary district of London where everyone is freaking amazing, they’re all poets, designers, doctors, you know, people who really make the world better, every one of them! . . .
Finally, in the evening, they came into Lexington’s outskirts, and after a few minutes of the voice in the GPS abstractly zeroing Ninja-sky’s driving in an ever-decreasing circular manner, they found Penny’s road. She was beyond exited, actually clapped her hands as they pulled into her driveway. Inside the house they simultaneously used the bathrooms.
Ninja-sky sat on the sofa and stared out the window. Penny thumped around in her bedroom. He’d rather forgotten the purpose of the trip, which, on the outside of it was just a big sloppy favor to Penny, but, there were some curious and titillating side benefits that he didn’t want to examine too carefully. Penny, he allowed, was actually in charge of this little relationship. He really didn’t have much to say about it. She came, she saw, she played damsel-in-distress for him and helped him with his homework. It now started to feel really crazy to have driven all the way to take her home, three states away, in a stolen car no less. He tried to push the fear that welled in his belly as the expected problems of the return posed before him. Certainly, Rebecca now knew her car was missing. And soon enough, the game-date these two supposed sibling-like kids would be on would be expected to be over. He checked his watch, he calculated.
“Close your eyes,” Penny called playfully from the hall.
He did so with a sigh, “OK.”
He felt the air rush as she ran past him, “OK! Open them!”
He opened and she posed before him in her favorite dress and huge blocky shoes. It had straps over the shoulders, was black and lacy. She’d quickly thrown some make-up on and swished her hips back and forth. The dress was above the knees and a bit extravagant, but Ninja-sky could not help it, he liked it, despite all his concerns this was why he’d brought her all this way. There was little to be done about the raging desire in his abdomen.
“You wanna tie me up?” she said, turning and smiling over her shoulder with outstanding gleam in her eyes.
“We gotta get going,” he protested.
“No! No-no!” she said, coming toward him, attempting to silence his worry.
She slid onto his lap, wrapped herself around him, “I’m almost ready, my stuff is almost packed!”
“We gotta get the car back, it’s gonna be reported—” but he cut himself off.
Penny was too busy to notice his admission of car theft. She stroked his hair, perched on his thighs, her legs spread, and gave him a few exploratory kisses near his mouth, nothing very serious though.
“Penny, we really gotta go, let’s get this together, I need to get back, they’re gonna freak out.”
“Oh shit, I’ll text them, say we went out to a party, nothing to worry about,” she kissed him again, this time she let her lips linger on his cheek, and unable to take any more, he pulled her to him, and sucked at her lips.
He pushed her down onto the sofa, shoved the skirt of her dress up, pressed his mouth into her slender neck and squeezed her in his large hands. She gasped in his ear. She smelled a little funky. No doubt he did too, but this distracted him, they both needed a shower.
“We need to get a move on,” he mumbled as he pressed his hips against her pelvis.
“Oh c’mon! Just play with me!” she pulled at him, aimed kisses at his mouth. He aimed his mouth at her smooth, ivory neck, wanting to mar that perfection. He could not express this urge, and it frightened him some. The paleness of that slender connection to her lithe body, the trace of tendons as she tipped her chin back and allowed him to have her throat. He wanted, in his most anxiety-ridden, animalistic, lust-thrill, to kill her with a beast’s bite. He groaned as he rode against her thigh, she pushed back up into him.
“Crocodile,” she panted as he mouthed her neck trying to take it all into his mouth.
“Yes!” he said, pulling her tightly to him, but daring not explicitly reveal his more thrilling eros.
“Eeek!” she cried and laughed as he began biting her more greedily, and in turn she humped against him and bit her lower lip. She tried to get her legs around him, tried to get him to hump more directly, but he suddenly pulled back.
“Sorry!” he said wiping his mouth.
“For what? C’mon!” and then softly, “Don’t you want to come?” She smiled so big Ninja-sky was briefly reminded of a jack-o-lantern.
She rose up between his legs, pushed him to his back and reaching down, using her elegant hands, she rubbed against his crotch vigorously, the hard-on pup-tenting his jeans dramatically. He climaxed powerfully as she smiled at him.
“Yes! There! That’s better!” she laughed and lay on him.
He knew she was going to ask if he liked it, if he liked her, if she was good, and he disapproved of this kind of survey. It annoyed him, and he wanted to flee as soon as the riveting pulsation of pleasure ebbed out of him. But instead he held her tightly listening to hear her heart pounding.
He loved her helpless little frame, loved her neck in his mouth, but feared what it might mean. He worried about his animal rape desires—and—perhaps it should be more importantly worried about—this was his cousin. This wasn’t just a matter of feeling bad about wanting to own and dominate a pretty girl, this was taboo, gross backwoods taboo.
“You’re such a monster!” she laughed in his chest.
“Oh god, I’m a mess now,” he sounded awfully distressed.
“Was I good?” she asked with evident vulnerability, exercising her feet in the air, knees bent, her shoes having dropped off in the play.
He panted, “Penny, we gotta get moving. I stole that car.”
“What?! What are you talking about?” she pressed herself up.
“I stole it! I took it from the neighbors. I thought we’d be back ages ago. I didn’t think she’d even notice.”
“What the fuck, Pete! I thought you said you had a car, a loaner.”
“I didn’t get it! I didn’t want to disappoint you.”
“Jeesus, you can’t drive four hundred miles each way in a day!”
“I didn’t know it’d be that bad!”
“Are you fucking kidding! OK OK hang on.” she slid off of him, straightened herself up.
“I wanted to do it for you,” he said sobbing.
“OK, OK, relax, we’ll be OK.” She patted his head. “Lemme text the adults, tell them we’re fine, and we’ll hit the road. Fuck. What the hell when we get back? Are there gonna be cops?” she stood, gathered her shoes.
“Maybe. I don’t know. It’s possible she won’t even know, she might not need the car today.” He sat up and rubbed his face.
Penny made a sound like a semi braking.
“I gotta clean up,” he said and wiped his eyes.
“Take a shower,” she slapped his arm.
“I just need—”
“C’mon,” she said and pulled him to his feet and pushed him toward the shower. She took off the dress, she wiggled out of her panties and dropped them. It seemed like candy wrappers to him, there she was, his naked perfect damsel, as white as a glow-stick.
He undid his jeans and felt terrible remorse about this whole thing, his acne, his skinny-ass limbs, his soft belly, his scars, his ugliness.
“C’mon!” she jerked his pants down and helped him with his shirt.
In the shower, she washed him and then turned around and pressed her behind against his hips and took his hands and helped him wash her. Then she shampooed his hair.
He was amazed at her poise, “How do you know how to do all this?”
“What?” she fluttered her eyelashes in the spray of the shower, “Do what? Take a shower?”
“I’ve never taken a shower with someone,” he shook his head, his locks dripping.
“Me either,” she smiled and threw her arms around him and they kissed in the hot stream, he hogging most of the water against his back. He squeezed her small ass, something he was fast falling into a deep love of. Even her tiny boobs had become something more than just cute.
“Throw those whitey-tighties away, you’re a man now, you’re going commando!” she grinned as they toweled off.
He winced.
“Just kidding,” she resigned, “I’ll get you a pair. There’s still some stuff left from my dad around here.”
And soon enough, they were packed into the Transport again.
“If we drive right through, I mean, just stop for gas . . . you gas, I’ll get drinks . . . we could be back before midnight, that’s not so bad, just a late night out,” she grinned.
“Right, and if Rebecca didn’t leave her house today, but just stayed in with her baby . . . ”
“Maybe there’s no cops.”
Her phone rang.
“Fuck.” he said.
“We’re out of range, they can leave a message,” she said checking the number.
Then his phone rang.
“You texted them already?”
“Yeah, I told them we’d be late, not how late though. I’ll send a few as the night goes on, just to settle their nerves, no worries, go to bed, we’ll be in late. That kind of thing.” She smiled.
“That works?”
“Worked on my mom,” she patted his leg.
Ninja-sky got the car out onto the main strip again. Penelope punched the directions back to Garner into the Tom-Tom.
“Whatever happens,” she said, stuffing a wad of green paper into Ninja-sky’s hand, “thank you for doing this for me. It’s the greatest thing, the most amazing thing.”
“What’s this,” he opened his hand and a bunch of bills unraveled.
“Just some emergency cash I’ve been hanging onto.
“You’re paying me?” he said, looking askance.
“I want you to have it. I want to make this worth your while.”
Ninja-sky never had emergency money, never knew how to hang on to anything, it looked like a few hundred dollars, though he jammed it into a pocket without counting.
After a few minutes of fiddling with the radio, and checking her texts she suddenly said, “Do you believe in God?”
Ninja-sky shot her a disturbed look, “Naa.”
“Really? So nothing? You don’t think there’s anything?”
“What do you want me to say? I don’t think there’s any of that god-stuff going on, I think people are nuts.”
“Everyone who believes in God is nuts?” she shook her head. “Really?”
“Really,” he looked at her, “why?”
“I mean the fact that we’re together, that we got this car, this great day,” she waved her arms, “you don’t think it’s anything?”
Ninja-sky looked around as he handled the Transport around a bend and shrugged.
“Really?” she said again. She leaned back, putting her feet up on the dashboard, and he smiled.

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