Driving Mister Maury

I haven’t written anything for Magpie Tales lately so I thought I’d fit a final story in for what remains of 2010.

Here is the prompt.

Here is the story –

Mimi Mapplethorpe left her leather gloves on the kitchen table all night. It made her proud to see them there. When she got up in the morning to put the kettle on she got a little thrill seeing them folded like real hands waiting to do some work.

Real work.

A real job.

Not working in customer service in an insurance company just to keep everyone happy.  Year after year of it. Having to drink four double shot mochas every day to cope with the endless drone of complaints.

Fine print, Mimi blamed it for everything. Nobody read the fine print on their policies. If they did they would have no cause to complain because they would know what they were in for – a whole lot of nothing.

Now that she was on her own she could do what she had wanted to do all along.  She could drive.

Rolf had never liked the way she messed about with cars.

It’s not ladylike, he said.

My friends think it’s abnormal that you know what a dual overhead cam is and that you discuss the difference between horsepower and torque as if you’re  comparing washing powders. It’s humiliating.

Mimi didn’t see what the problem was. It was good to have a passion for something. Better than wishing every day was Friday like Rolf did. Life got away from you before you knew it if you thought like that.

Rolf left her for a pretty little thing. It was the only way to put it. His new girlfriend was blonde, petite and feminine. When she moved all Mimi could see what a flurry of pink. She was reminded of a miniature poodle staring out of a designer handbag. She was surprised how little the pretty little pink thing bothered her.

Mimi saw the ad in the paper shortly after Rolf moved out his definitive collection of Debt-Consolidating Mortgages Digest (all 235 volumes.)

The ad read:

Chauffeur needed.

Thorough knowledge of Sydney City.

Exemplary driving record.

Elderly gentleman with a penchant for taking in the view.

Mimi rang the number and found herself in a house in Point Piper perched on the water like a mainsail waiting to be unfurled.

She sat in a room that smelled of furniture polish and stewed earl grey tea waiting for the elderly gentleman.

He walked in, frail yet elegant, steadying himself on a walnut cane.

He didn’t test her on her knowledge of the streets of Sydney or even ask her about her driving history. He merely asked her one question – Where do you go to sit and ponder?

Anywhere on the Harbour, she answered. So I can watch the wind on the water.

The elderly gentleman smiled. My name is Maury Tomlinson, he said. I’d like to show you my car.

As the door went up on Maury’s garage Mimi felt excitement rise from the pit of her stomach. It was like getting every single present you ever wanted for Christmas all at once.

Maury owned a Jaguar XJ12.

It was cream with a fawn interior. The walnut dash matched Maury’s cane.

A 5.3 litre V12 engine with a top speed of 140 miles per hour. Mimi hadn’t realised she was speaking aloud. She’s in mint condition. Mint.

Maury nodded, a smile lighting up his eyes. They twinkled.

Mimi had always wanted to drive an XJ12 but had never voiced the desire aloud. Driving a V12 these days was like eating eggs that weren’t free range or using plastic bags for shopping instead of those cloth ones. She imagined driving along being abused by environmentally-inclined pedestrians shocked at the size of her carbon footprint. But seeing the twinkle in Maury’s eyes made her determined not to care what anyone thought. All she wanted right now was to drive that car anywhere Maury wanted to go so he could sit and ponder.

She started the next day. Maury didn’t insist she wear a uniform or even a chauffeur’s hat but did insist she wear leather gloves. Italian. A beautiful fit. Soft as felt. The best drivers wear gloves, he said. Even in Sydney town.

Mimi was transported in that Jaguar with Maury in the back reading his newspapers. Driving around all day was the best job in the world. You got out of the dark places in your head on the road. You left behind the ghosts as you raced through the morning. The gloves made it perfect.

True to his advertisement Maury was indeed a man who enjoyed taking in a view. From Double Bay to Hunters Hill and all the way up to Pittwater, he and Mimi sat and took in the view and pondered.

There was a peacefulness Mimi had never imagined she would feel in watching the wind on the water. At noon – Maury’s favourite time of day – there were no shadows at all and the water was succulent, pivoting under the light.

In the late afternoon when the southerlies came the water was whipped – rows and rows of sailors caps. At twilight it was purple, turning like a Spanish dancer shaking her skirt.

For the first time in her life Mimi was alive, eager to plunge into every day. She knew every contour, every curve of the road. When the door of Maury’s car hissed shut and she put on her gloves, a clarity descended.  A sense of purpose.

One morning as the light fell in oranges and yellows on the water, adorning the Harbour Bridge with terracotta fingertips Mimi experienced a moment of pure happiness, delectable and breathless.

Driving Mister Maury around the streets of Sydney, taking in the view, was a kind of salvation. One bend, two bends – the water was lost and found again, as blue as a flawless sky right out to the horizon; the big, big sea framing the land.

Driving all day in the heat and the wind and the traffic that unravelled like streamers was not for everyone, but for Mimi Mapplethorpe it was doing what she really wanted. The city blazed and glimmered behind her as she drove, her gloved hands gripping the steering wheel that could go wherever she pleased. Leading her into the distance. Leading her right to home.





17 thoughts on “Driving Mister Maury

  1. Oh, a Jaguar–my first automotive love! I’ve wanted to drive one since I was 15. A ’69 XKE V12 would be my preference but an XJ12 would do too! 🙂

    Happy New Year to you too, Selma. May 2011 bring you all good things!

    Sagacious Woman


  2. What a wonderful story, just beautiful and so well written, I swoon at your descriptions! 🙂

    Thank you for all your great posts this year, I really enjoy your writing.

    May 2011 bring you all you need, and may you recognise it when it arrives!

    Much love to you
    Susannah x


  3. Selma! Reading your story was like having the best chocolate melt in my mouth! Beautiful!!!! I love Mimi! I also loved your description of the blonde pretty little thing. She reminds me of the poodle in a purse who invaded my life! It made me laugh, and secretly hope that Rolf chokes on his delusions!!

    Happy New Year friend. Even though we are a world apart? My life is far richer with you in it. love and best wishes to you Selma.



  4. I had one for a while! Honest! A custard yellow XJ12 5.3 litre Jag. Horrid color. Lovely car. Did you know that the water speed record for a propellor driven craft is held by a boat powered by 2 of these fantastic engines!
    You capture what it’s like to drive one of these high-end cars very well. Happy New Year.


  5. Oh the freedom to do what you love and love what you do!! What an inspiring story to start off the hope of a new year!

    I’m glad I got the chance to know you and your writing Selma and wish you all the best for the new year and I look forward to reading more!


  6. HI KAREN:
    I am so glad you liked it. I wrote it a bit too quickly, I suspect. However, the sentiment is one I really relate to – following the dream. It is so important!!

    Those XKEs are true motoring classics. I have never had a drive in one but I can just imagine how FAB it would be. My Uncle used to have an XJ12 and it was unbelievable. I felt like a princess in it. I will never forget how quietly the door closed – it was like a vacuum seal. I hope you have a brilliant 2011. Who knows – both of us might get the chance to drive our favourites Jags 😀

    I’m all for that. It’s fine to dream but we’ve got to finish what we start or our dreams will never come true. It is my wish that we all reach the finish line in 2011. That would make me happy indeed!


    I really enjoy your writing too. Your insights and observations are finely tuned and are something I can really relate to. Hope you have a fabulous 2011.

    Hi DANA:
    What a beautiful thing to say. You enrich my life so much that I feel really, really fortunate to know you. Oh yeah – those poodle women are something else, aren’t they? They are the cutest of assassins, ripping the guts out of your life as they smile pinkly. Hey, I just invented a new adverb – pinkly. Somehow it seems to fit.

    You are very dear to me. Thank you for everything XXX

    Hi DOC:
    I think you might be a bot but I’ll respond anyway. Sounds like a great car to me. By the way, you don’t know Doctor Dow Jones do you? I hear you work in the same department.

    Hi CATHY:
    Freedom is something we all deserve to experience. I hope we do in some form this year. I am also very glad to get to know you. You are a really cool lady !!


    I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for stopping by!

    Hi WILLOW:
    I might use Mimi again in a different story. I like her too!


  9. This is just fantastic Selma – one of your best I think – you have a gift for similes and metaphor (very poetic writing); such descriptive, sensory writing – really took me there: ‘rows of sailors caps’; ‘traffic that unravelled like streamers ‘ – and that is just a couple of examples – your story is full of these. Wishing you and your family the best for 2011 (it has to be better than 2010). Cheers Gabrielle xxxooo (((((((((Selma)))))))))))


    I don’t know if I ever told you, Gabrielle, but when I first started writing back in the day I wanted to be a poet. I don’t know what happened but I just can’t seem to get the form right for poetry. My poems always sound ridiculous. But if I weave a poetic image into my fiction it seems to work. That’s why I admire poets like you so much – I know how hard it is to write good poetry. Thanks for all your feedback; it is very much appreciated.
    Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family XXX

    Hi BRIAN:
    Oh, I do hope so. May I take this opportunity to say how much I have enjoyed your writing. You CAN write, Brian. And then some. If you don’t end up being a great success I will be very surprised. Wishing you all the best for 2011!


  11. I am sure you could write a wonderful poem Selma – I often think about your stories and how to convert them to poems (I would kill for some of your lines – haha) – I wish I could sit down with you and nut something out – maybe we could do a little collaboration – a conversion of a story to poem type thing one day 🙂


    WOW. That would be an honour. You might regret offering once you see how bad my poetic skills are though. Either way, we’ll have a bit of fun! 😀


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