Pam rolled her eyes. Duh, rehab, the thing she’d promised to try out in the heat of the moment, when they were all afraid they’d die on the tarmac back in South America. When they got off the plane, it became the thing she’d directly promised Archer she’d do during their shared taxi ride back into New York. First thing in the morning, she’d sworn. Archer was never the responsible type; she’d presumed he’d forget all about it and she could go back to her love affair with the drug. Then she got home and had gotten a dose of the weird devotion he could display. Not that he cared, he said, proceeding to spend the rest of the night sleeping on her couch, watching shitty b-movies and drinking every single ounce of Jim Beam she possessed. He’d battled his hangover with a little hair of the dog – now, sitting in the front seat of his car with a suitcase jammed against her right boob, she suddenly started regretting her solemn vow.
He could have rolled a joint for her to take the edge off. At least.
She thought about jumping out of the car as he took a right onto the highway, but it was too high, and she didn’t want to abandon the submarine sandwich he’d bought to bribe her inside in the first place. She reached for it, grabbed a hunk off, and plunked one into the mouth. “Have you ever gone?”
“Pam! I’m a trained professional. I like, have total control over me.” Archer’s knuckles flexed against the wheel. “Besides, I, like, really need alcohol to live.”
She chortled. “Yeah, I’m sure you have lots of fun when you’re horking your lungs up all over Woodhouse every morning.”
“Hey, it’s not EVERY morning – maybe every weekend. Twice a week, tops, and I have to pay to have his uniform cleaned. Look, we’re not talking about me, we’re talking about you.”
She shrugged. “I’ll be okay.” She wondered how long the drive would take; he’d have better packed something bigger than this measly sandwich, because she’d be ravenous within a few hours. As Archer pulled down an off-ramp and headed eastbound, she tugged open the glove compartment and dug around inside of it. “I never got that bad,” she said, then paused in her rummaging to throw him a look. “Or I don’t think I was that bad.” She said. “Was I?”
Archer laughed, hard and long. “Pam, your heart stopped twice on the flight home and you tried to sell Cheryl to a baggage handler for a joint.”
“Oh please, Little Miss Hotpants was totally into it,” scoffed Pam. “You can’t sell people and force them to do what you want them to do.”
“Uh, you kinda can. It’s called slavery.”
Cheryl would have said something daffy about the Immaculation Proclamation totally ridding the world of it years ago. Pam simply said, “Oh. Right.”
Archer reached for the car radio, cranking the volume up as high as he could. The car filled with the strains of Journey and Pam took the opportunity to rock out.
“You like Journey!?” she asked
“Duh. My only question is who DOESN’T like Journey – whoever they are they must be….I want to say Communists but even Communists love Journey.”
Pam turned her attention back to the radio, but the song was over and a drive-time dj’s annoying voice filled the cabin of the car. Archer decided to try and engage her verbally again.
“So. Have any regrets?”
Pam cackled. “Regrets are for pussies. As much fun as it was being baked out my mind on coke –and believe me, it was INCREDIBLE…”
“…Pft, tell me about it….”
“…It was starting to get in the way of my appetite. Besides I was tired of my heart stopping randomly. That is a total pain in the ass.”
“Again, tell me about it.” Archer tapped the steering wheel. Sighed. Then he came out with what had apparently been resting uneasily on his mind for the past few miles.
“So, wanna bang in the backseat?”
Her eyebrow rose. “Not even gonna slap some lube on that one, are you?”
“Come on, it’s not like we have anything important to do for the next few miles. And I still wanna test-drive those airbags of yours before you start gaining your weight back.”
Pam rolled her eyes. “Please, you were begging me for it back on that space station.”
He grinned. “Yeah. Yeah, I totally was.”
She raised an eyebrow. “So, you finally got desperate enough to come back to old Pammy, hmmm?” Pam couldn’t keep the confidence out of her voice.
“”That’s the thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with desperate. I just…sort of miss hanging around with you, okay?” Archer stared at the asphalt.
“Not good enough,” she said suddenly.
“What?” he asked.
“That’s not good enough,” she repeated. “If you wanna get with me, you have to give me something more than a little FWB action.”
“…You just literally pronounced it FWB. It’s an ACRONYM, Pam, why don’t you...”
“All right, pull the fucking car over!”
Archer did as Pam ordered – dragging his car right over the median and into some broken glass from a recent wreck, shredding his tire. They cursed simultaneously. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this,” he said. Then he proceeded to call Woodhouse on his car phone and demand he show up to change the tire.
As he demanded a ‘martini, double-dry, I want it to feel like there’s a desert in my mouth!’, Pam slipped out of the car and wrenched open the truck with her bare hands, finding a clearly untouched roadside assistance kit. She slid the jack to the car’s undercarriage and got to work.
Archer leapt out of the car just as she’d successfully slid under its metallic belly.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Jacking the car,” Pam said. Then she chuckled at her own dirty joke, getting to work on loosening lug nuts.
He sat down on the ground next to her. “I uh…I had no idea you were this good with cars. It’s kind of awesome.”
“I learned back on the farm,” said Pam. “Practiced on tractors,” she said. Then she reached out for the small red kit of tools beside her. “Y’know Archer – I’ve been lying here on my ass trying to figure out why we split up in the first place.”
“Uh, that was not my call. It was really awkward. I mean, you dumped me after banging me in a zero-g gravity lock.”
“Well, you treated me like the elephant in the …don’t you DARE laugh.” He coughed into his fist. “You were totally embarrassed to be with me. I don’t have time for that crap.”
“Huh. Maybe we’re just making it messy,” Archer said. “Way messier than it needs to be.”
Pam promptly unscrewed the last lug and rolled off a shredded tire, then headed toward its sister. “You think?”
“Maybe,” Archer said – to her surprise, sliding under the car beside her and getting to work unscrewing the third tire. “Maybe we just need to concentrate on the good stuff. Like great sex and having a good time.”
“Aww, great, really?” Great sex and fun times. Relationships had been built on weaker ground. Maybe she and Archer had a chance after all.
“Yeah, I mean – you’re kind of the best I’ve ever had. Don’t tell Lana, I don’t wanna die before I see a narwhal.”
Companionable silence passed between them. He rested his hand on her upper arm, and she gave him a smile. Then his nose wrinkled. “Did you just fart?”
She chuckled wickedly.