“Those birds. They sound like they're right in the house . . .” Carole opens an eye. She's not in the house. She's on the patio, on the chaise lounge. Cold pink dawn silhouettes the trees. She’s got the wine stained tablecloth wrapped around her. “God, I slept out here all night!” She swings her feet around to the ground, upending an empty wine bottle, sending it clattering across the bricks. The blood rushes to her head and her temples throb. She feels clammy in the damp morning air. “Oh, this is not good.” Getting up slowly, she shuffles into the house. Making an effort to compose herself, she smoothes her hair and arches her back. “All right, just a little hung over. Some aspirin and a shower’ll do wonders.”

The trip up the stairs takes more out of her than she expects. Standing over the sink, she takes a few deep breaths. Glancing up in the mirror, she catches a revealing glimpse of herself. “Definitely not good.” Opening the medicine cabinet, she fumbles for the aspirin bottle and tips the shelf, sending everything crashing into the sink. Bubbles, asleep in the guestroom, bolts upright at the noise. Disoriented, she throws her arms out, pitching herself out of bed. With a sickening thud she hits the floor.

Carole hears the noise from the guest room and freezes. “Bubbles?”

Lying in a tangle of bedding, Bubbles rubs her head. It's pounding! And her mouth! It’s like a doormat! Oh, too much wine! Wincing, she says, “Uh, Mom? What's going on?”

“Oh . . . nothing. Did you, did I hear something . . .?”

Simultaneously, both scramble to pull themselves together. Carole splashes water on her face, and untangles her hair. Bubbles, untwisting her nightclothes, jumps up on the bed, pretending as if she's just casually awakened. Carole, with a terry cloth robe over her slept-in clothes, gently knocks on the guestroom door. Bubbles scoots a little further under the covers and says, “Come in, it's open.”

Carole peeps in and whispers, “Good morning, dear. It's still early. Did you sleep well?”

Bubbles feigns a yawn and stretches. “Oh, yes. Quite well, thank you.”

"Wonderful. Take your time, when you're ready I'll get breakfast and then we’ll look into finding you a car today.”

As soon as Carole has the door shut, she sags against the hallway wall. Rubbing her temples, she gingerly makes her way towards her bedroom.

Bubbles collapses into the bed like a wounded animal. She covers her head and groans, “Car shopping! Today? I feel like complete shit! How am I gonna do this? Oh, man, gotta rally! Just suck it up . . .” Her stomach churns and rolls.

Down the hall Carole is having her own little pep talk. “OK. It's time to shake it off. Carpe Diem! I promised we'd go car shopping today, and that’s what we’re going to do!" She tries a few deep knee bends, but her head swims and she feels clammy. She falls back onto the bed as if crucified.

Eventually, Carole manages to get showered. Still feeling rough, she heads to the kitchen to make breakfast. With the bathroom free, Bubbles rouses herself and gets in the shower. Still feeling woozy, Bubbles dresses and tries her best to act perky. Swooping down the stairs, she bounds into the kitchen.

“Good morning! Coffee smells good! What's for breakfast?”

Carole, pouring the coffee, does her best to match her daughter's enthusiasm.

“Well, how about some scrambled eggs? I think I've got some soy sausage in the freezer.”

“Um, eggs sounds right, but let's skip the fake sausage, OK?”

Carole serves the eggs, coffee, toast and orange juice. They sit down across from one another, big smiles on their faces, disguising their inner distress. Bubbles puts a forkful in her mouth. Her insides recoil and she resists the urge to gag. With great effort she swallows the eggs. Carole too, struggles to handle a few mouthfuls. Bubbles jumps up from the table and exclaims,

“Mother, I'm so excited I can hardly eat. Let me clean this up, then let’s get started.”

“OK, I thought we could head over to Cherry Hill. A client of mine, Robert Collins, owns a dealership. Perhaps we might find a deal there.”

Soon they were in Carole's Acura, sunglasses on, windows open, heading for Route 70 and the string of new and used car dealerships that crowd both sides of the busy highway. As they approach the line of dealerships, Carole says, “ Yes, there it is. Collins Honda and Mitsubishi.”

Entering the showroom, they’re pounced upon by a salesman. While he pumps her hand, Carole explains that they are friends of Robert Collins, and would like to see him personally.

“Well, Mr. Collins isn't in today, but Bobby—Mr. Collins' son—can help you.”

Bubbles goes to the ladies room while Carole sits and awaits the young Collins. After washing her hands, Bubbles checks herself in the mirror. Still rough going. She fixes her lipstick and returns to the showroom where she sees her mother speaking to a young man with his back toward her. As she approaches, he turns. He's about Bubbles age, crew cut red hair, skinny neck jutting out of a too-large collar. Wide-set blues under a prominent brow. Her mother introduces him.

“Bobby, this is my daughter, Bubbles. We're shopping for her today.”

“Hi! How ya doin, how ya doin'.”

Shaking her hand, he looks at her in a funny way. His eyes narrow then his mouth comically drops open. Slapping his head with his hand he says, “Bubbles? Bubbles Callahan! Oh, man, I haven't seen you since grade school, right? Remember, in the schoolyard?” He makes a gesture as if he's getting hit in the jaw, then he shakes his head goofily. “Bang! You smacked me silly! You know, 'cuz I called you . . .er . . . something bad.” An awkward silence hangs in the air. “Um. Yeah. You know, I'm really, sorry, I mean, I didn't mean to . . . it was a long time ago and I was just a stupid kid . . .”

Bubbles considers grabbing her mother and walking out, but seeing BOBBY FUCKING COLLINS, after all these years, standing before her, sweating and squirming . . . well, now she just felt sorry for him. “Hey, Bobby, c'mon, let's just go see some cars. Can you show me something cool?”

Bobby shoots Carole a glance. She shrugs, as if to say “It's OK with me.” Relieved, Bobby excitedly says, “Oh, yeah! Something cool! Come with me! We've got some super specials! Sweet deals on some cool cars!”

"And practical!” adds Carole.

Passing through the rows of shiny new vehicles. Bobby leads the way, keeping up a steady patter, “We've got sporty two-seaters and roomy sedans all loaded, in every price range, fantastic low-mileage previously-owned luxury vehicles . . . Ah-hah! Here's the one! 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse. Thirty-two thousand miles, super-clean, leather interior, sunroof, five CD changer, competition wheels. Man, this baby has got it all!”

Carole rolls her eyes. Still badly hung over, she’s unsure how long she'll be able to hang in there. Despite her own banging head, Bubbles perks up at the sight of the deep blue coupe. She strolls over and drags a finger along the fender, giving Bobby a look that says, “Not bad.”

“You like, huh?” Bobby's a shark smelling chum in the water. “You gotta see how this baby handles! We've got our own competition track. Get in and I'll show you.” Bobby jumps behind the wheel, Carole reluctantly squeezes into the tiny back seat and Bubbles gets in the passenger side. As soon as Bubbles is in, Bobby pops the car into gear and steps on the gas. Screeching through the parking lot, they pull onto the track. “Hang on, Ladies, here we go.” Flooring it, Bobby slaloms through the orange cones, his passengers clinging for dear life. With wild abandon he slashes back and forth, Bubbles and Carole getting jerked to and fro. “Check out the tight turning radius! Man, this car is a blast to drive.” Bobby cuts the wheel hard, sending the car into a tight circle. “Ha! I could do this all day!” Keeping the car pinned in a circle, tires squealing, Bobby pushes the car as fast as it will go. Bubbles, her stomach roiling, grabs Bobby's arm and shouts,

“Bobby! Stop the car! Stop the car now!”

Startled, Bobby pulls out of the spin and jerks to a stop at the side of the track. Bubbles stumbles out, quickly followed by Carole. They stagger to the grass where both drop to their knees and start retching miserably.

Bobby, sounding a bit hurt, says, “You know if you didn't like the car, you could have just TOLD me.”

Bubbles Meets the Prince of Darkness
International Assholes' Day
Bubbles Runs the Voodoo Down
Bubbles Takes a Magic Carpet Ride
Big Brown Lets Bubbles Down
Bubbles, Baked and Fried
Bubbles, Biff and Binny
Bubbles and the 99 cent Epiphany
Bubbles' Trip To See the Doctor
The Doctor and the Prince Of Darkness Meet Again
The Doctor and the Naked Glory
Bubbles and the Doctor Seize the Day

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