Hot Rod Nellie

Debbie Stanton | Stories


by Debbie Stanton

photo by Kristin Wilson on Unsplash

Nellie Nelson wanted to feel more positive about her current lifestyle. There had to be more to life than sitting at the table and looking out to sea all day long. Sure, she was thankful to see a live seascape whenever she wanted. However, shouldn’t she be doing something? Anything?

Nellie hadn’t slept well last night, so she fell asleep right there at the table. A strange dream ensued.

The handsome race car driver, a man better looking than Nellie had ever seen, held a microphone up to Nellie’s lips and interviewed her.

“Tell me, Ms. Nellie Waterford, your feelings about winning this great car. Did you guess that you might win this beauty?”

Nellie nervously smoothed the silky ballroom gown she wore and pondered the question. The car in question was in a shade of navy blue that resembled the sea at dusk. So beautiful was the car, Nellie could hardly breathe. No, she certainly hadn’t figured she’d win the car. Luck had never been on her side before.

“No sir, I didn’t. But I’m so thankful this car is mine. Thank you!” Nellie felt to be a fraud, since she was scared of race cars. But her fans were watching her, and she’d better put on another show like she always did.

The wind picked up and blew at Nellie’s blonde curls.

The race car driver, known to his circuit as Phil Philanderer, broke into her thoughts. Drat. She knew his history and hoped he wouldn’t talk at her, on and on. Nellie just wanted to hurry and leave in her new car – if she even accepted it.

“You’re welcome, Nellie,” Phil said. “But you have to do something first before you take possession of your car.”

Nellie hoped he hadn’t seen her roll her eyes in exasperation.

“What do I have to do?” Nellie asked. Trust your gut, she commanded herself. Her gut wasn’t pleased with the situation at all.

“You have to allow me to show you how to drive a race car. In fact, we’ll drive along the coast right now. How does that sound?”

“Sure, I’d like to drive alongside the water. But my long dress is hardly appropriate for this kind of car,” Nellie said. She’d surprised herself by stating her facts to this famous man who drove fast cars and cheated on all those women. She went a step further.

“You can keep the car, Mr. Philanderer. Thank you for offering it to me, but I don’t want it.”

The audience gasped. Someone was saying no to a wonderful car? And daring to contradict Phil? A round of gossip began. The reporters would compete for the “best story” title…

Nellie awoke with a start. Someone was knocking at the door.

Standing in the doorway was her friend George. She had never been so happy to see him. His plain looks were wonderful to see.

“Hi, Nellie,” George said as he handed her a bouquet of flowers.

“Why, thank you, George! What’s the occasion?” Nellie motioned for him to follow her, and she walked into the kitchen to search for a vase. She found one in a lower cupboard and filled it with water. When she reached for the flowers on the countertop, George put his hand over hers.

“George, let me put the flowers in water, for goodness’ sake,” Nellie said. George complied and stepped back.

Nellie breathed in the flowery fragrance and arranged the flowers. She recalled her strange dream and realized George would never put conditions on their friendship. She was grateful for him, for the flowers, and actually for her life.

“Thank you for the flowers, George. I’m glad you stopped by,” Nellie said.

“You’re welcome,” George said. “I thought you could use a lift.”

Nellie hugged him. “You’re right—but how did you know?”

“You forget I’ve known you since we were nine.” George paused, and she saw a question in his eyes.

“What?” Nellie asked.

“Would you like to take a drive along the coast? My truck is dumpy, but it can get us around,” George said.

A feeling of déjà vu came over Nellie. A drive along the coast had been mentioned in the dream. She looked at what she was wearing. Thankfully, it wasn’t a long gown, but cut-off jeans and a gingham shirt.

“That’s okay, George. Could we take my car? It’s old, but I love it,” Nellie said.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way. And before I forget—I want you to know that I admire you. You’re strong and independent and can do whatever you set your mind to.”

“George, that’s so sweet! Just what I needed to hear, actually,” Nellie said. She paused and looked at her elderly Schnauzer, snoring on the plaid dog blanket. “How long will we be gone, George?”

“A couple of hours, maybe? Or one? Depends on what you want to do.”

Nellie quickly calculated in her mind. “That should be fine. It looks like Daisy will be in dreamland for a while.”

When they arrived at her gravel driveway, Nellie got into the driver’s seat of her beloved Mustang. As they buckled their seatbelts, a big smile emerged on her face.

George had made her bad feelings disappear. Maybe she was bold and fearless. She could do whatever she felt. After all, she was Hot Rod Nellie.


 * This story was written in memory of Debb’s sister. Her sister called Debb “Hot Rod Nellie.”


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