Ticket to Ride
by E. McCann
circa September 1998
Natalie looked at the calender. Yep, that time again. Fortunately, it
was Friday, so she could take care of the business she had to take
care of, and sleep in a little later. She'd have to put off the plans she had
with Nick for a night, though - but he'd understand.She called and told him she
wouldn't be over tonight, because she actually needed some sleep.
His disappointment was obvious, but he wished her luck.
"Luck? Nah. Just wish me a good hair day."
"OK, Nat." he replied, somewhat puzzled. "Seeya tomorrow night, then."
She watched the late, late show - that was always rediculous enough to
bore her to sleep. When she was tired enough, she headed up to bed,
and set her alarm - 10 AM should be plenty early to avoid the crowds, even on a
10:00 - The morning show ended, with the most annoying DJ's in Toronto.
Sydney jumped from the bed, arched his back, and hissed at the
unexpected racket. Natalie looked up, groaned, and slapped her alarm off. It fell, hit
the ground, and was quiet again.
11:00 - Sydney, still annoyed, had been going around the apartment,
working out his frustration. After redecorating the couch, attacking
the Kleenex dispenser, and chasing a cockroach, he decided he was hungry.
Quietly, he padded into the bedroom, and stopped. Natalie's foot had come out from the
covers, and was moving slowly back and forth. He crouched down, and padded around
the door, slowly, deliberately... waiting for the right moment... then...
Natalie nearly jumped out of bed. She rubbed her heel - fortunately,
he hadn't really bitten her hard, but her heel still stung. "One of
these days, boy..." She stopped, and looked at the clock... 11:15 - great. She
She quickly grabbed a shirt, some jeans, and ran into the bathroom...
no towels. She ran back out, only to remember she hadn't had time to do
"Greeat. Just great." She went into the kitchen - Two good size,
clean dishtowels... "Guess they'll have to do." Noticing Sidney by his
(empty) food bowl, staring at her, she opened up a can of something
and stuck it in his dish.
Sidney sniffed at the can suspiciously, ash she ran off for a quick
shower. Looking in the direction she went, he decided not to attack
her foot like that again, if he would get fed *this* stuff in return.
He left the can of green beans in his dish, and went to play with more Kleenex.
11:45... A slightly damp but dressed Nat finally made her way to the
door. She promised herself she'd do laundry tonight. Dishtowels
were fine for dishes, but not for people. As she came around the couch, she saw
the remains of several dead Kleenex, with a content Sidney in the middle... "Cat!
One of these days.... I'll deal with you when I get home." She happened to look
into the kitchen and saw the green beans in the bowl. She sighed. "Or maybe I
could learn to read labels." She went to retrieve the green beans from his dish,
and replace them with tuna and liver cat food.
"There... you can have that every night if you leave my Kleenex
alone." She went to the door, put on her coat, and left.
Sidney looked up as the door closed, and detected a new, appetizing
odor from the kitchen. He purred, and went back to napping on the Kleenex.
12:30. "I really shouldn't put this off so long next time." She stood
in line at the drivers licensing station, behind about 5 other people.
"At least its still not crowded." Ten minutes later, the line had still not
moved. She looked towards the counter... all the booths, save one, were empty,
and that one was manned by a woman who had to be as old as Nick. Thirty minutes
later, she finally got to turn in her form.
"Just wait over there, everyone's coming back from lunch shortly."
1:30. The last person before her finally got up to the window, signed
his form, had his eye test, and got his picture. She looked at her
Almost done. She was glad to have this over with! She hated having
her drivers license picture taken as much as other people hated going to the
dentist. She looked out the window, enjoying the beautiful, sunny, clear day, just
as a busload of students from the local high school came up and parked.
Not just a busload of students, she realized as they filed into the
lines at the booth. A busload of DRIVERS ED students.
//Well, that's not so bad. I'll be gone in a few minutes anyway, and
they can get their licenses to terrorize the streets of Toronto.//
She looked to the counters... all manned. Everyone must be back from
lunch. She got up, and went to the first open one.
"Yes, I'm here to get my license renewed..."
The burly man behind the desk gave her an odd look. "Are you with the
"Class? No, I've just been waiting to get this done, and..."
"I'm sorry, but they've made arrangements, and reserved this time
"No, Don't say it..."
"I'm afraid you'll have to wait."
Nat's face fell. Seeing this, the man behidn the counter put on a
smile to cheer her up. "There's only 20, and five of us. It shouldn't
take too long. You're right after them. An hour, tops."
Natalie sighed. "OK, but let me know as SOON as you can get me in,
"Sure, ma'am, no problem."
5:00. 3 Drivers Ed students left to go. Natalie looked worse than one
of her "patients" normally did. "Next!" A pimple-faced kid stood up
and started heading to the counter. He sort of looked at her, and grinned.
"ENOUGH!" she said, and shoved him back down to his seat.
She marched up to the counter. "Look, I've been waiting here for the
last four and a half hours, to have you say I can see, take a lousy picture, and
give me a piece of laminated cardboard. Five minutes, FIVE MINUTES, but I've
waited patiently. It's now five o'clock..."
"Ma'am, you'll still have to wait. Maybe you can come back tomorrow?
We're nearly ready to close, as soon as.."
"TOMORROW?" she screamed. "Look, buddy, I pay my taxes to pay your
salary, and to pay for these kids' school, their teacher, the cars they crash during
drivers ed, the works. I AM NEXT."
Looking at his coworker, who was quietly dialing the precinct, he nodded.
"OK, ma'am, miss... Lanburt?"
"LAMBURT. L. A. M. B. U. R. T."
"OK, just look in here and tell me what you see..." Two minutes later, she was in front of the
screen, having her picture taken. Hair a mess. Eyes sunken. As bad as she could
possibly look.... As she got up, the uniformed officer came up behind her.
"I got it! "
"You certainly did. I'm going to have to take you down to the station."
Natalie looked at him like he was nuts. "To *what* station?"
"The police station, ma'am," he said, as evenly as he could, while wondering if he
should have brought backup. She couldn't really argue, as he already had one of
her arms. "COme with me quietly. I've been asked to remove you from the premises
for threatening a federal employee, and disturbing the peace. Nothing major, but..."
She went with him to the squad. //Great. Wait'll Nick hears this.// On
the way, she tried explaining to the officer... "But I waited, and
they put all those kids in front of me. Four and a half HOURS."
"My cat bit my foot, too, and I haven't had anything to eat."
"But I finally got it!"
"Yes, ma'am..." Then it hit him. "Wait - Lambert... Natalie lambert?"
She stopped. "Yes, that's me."
"You and Knight..." he got out, before he started laughing.
"Hooo, boy... Do you want to call him, or should I let him know where
She glared at him. "I'll do it, thanks."
9:30. Nick showed up at the station. "Detective Knight, here to pick
up Natalie Lambert."
"Right this way."
"She wasn't too much trouble, was she?"
"No, not once she got calmed down, but she sure put a scare into the
people at the licensing station. They thought she was nuts." Looking in, they saw
Natalie sprawled on the cell's cot. "She's been asleep there since 7."
They opened her holding cell. "Dr. Lambert?" "Nat?"
Natalie stirred... "Nick!" She sat up, the hair on one side of her head
totally flat where she'd been laying on it. "I've got her now. Thanks."
"Nick, I got it! I've had a lousy day... but I got it! Wanna see? Lemme
get my purse from these guys..."
Nick stopped her. "Calmly. They were going to throw you in a padded
cell, from what it sounded like before. No reason to spook them
again." They walked to the front desk, and Nat got her purse and other belongings.
She turned, beaming, to Nick, pulled out her wallet, and... no
license. "No, it's here, it's GOT to be..." Then she remembered... she never
got the license itself. They had her old one, and she was taken away just
after they snapped the picture.
This was just too much for her. "Ohhhhh, Nick... I don't... They still
have it!" She said, and started sobbing into his shoulder.
He ran his fingers through her hair, and rubbed her back. "It's OK,
Nat. Really, Shhhh...." he said, and reached into his pocket. "I
think I can make it better for you."
She looked up at him, eyes red. "What do you mean?"
He brought up his hand - in it was her brand new license. "Some
friends there owed me a favor. They felt bad about what happened, soooo...."
She grabbed it, and bounced around a bit, then enveloped Nick in a big
hug... "I got it! You got it! Nick!" She chattered on a little bit,
as Nick led her to his car. Then she stopped... "Uh, Nick, do you have any more
She showed him the license. "Do you think we could have them retake
the picture? It's really not all that good... Look at me! I haven't had a
picture this bad in twelve years!"
Nick rolled his eyes, then started to grin. "I'm sure we could... in
about 4-6 more years...."