Three people in a little car were driving around in circles looking for a parking space, but there weren’t any. Ah, the joys of summer holidays.
The driver was frazzled. Her partner was sitting beside her, a little too big for his seat. His sweaty arm on her leg was annoying. She batted it away.
In the back was their friend who’d come for the festival, brought her wacky ideas with her, and never gone home.
‘You must have terrible parking karma,’ she said.
‘There’s no such thing,’ the driver snapped.
Her friend wasn’t fazed. ‘Maybe in a previous life you were a parking inspector, or one of those awful people who dent cars in parking lots and then drive off without even leaving a note?’
The driver glared at her in the mirror. ‘Do you really think that’s helpful?’
They completed another circuit of the block. None of the cars had moved.
‘We could pray,’ suggested the man in the front seat.
‘Jesus Christ. Are you going to tell us there’s a patron saint of car parking?’
‘Actually, there’s two.’
‘How does that work? Do they job share?’
‘Don’t knock it. I can always get a park,’ he said. It was true.
‘That’s just dumb luck,’ she said.
Then the woman in the back chirped up again. ‘I’m the same! I can always get a park. Isn’t it spooky?’
‘Dumb and dumber!’
‘How about you let one of us drive?’ said the man.
‘That’s a great idea!’ said the woman in the back.
‘I know how to drive, thank you very much. I got my licence ten years before you did.’
‘Maybe that’s how you accumulated all that awful parking karma? There’s probably a place you could go to work it off. I know a wonderful retreat…’ The woman in the back seat started looking through her phone for the number.
The driver hit the brakes, hard. Both passengers bumped into things. The woman’s phone fell on the floor.
‘If you send me the number of a parking karma retreat, I am never going to speak to you again,’ said the driver.
The woman in the back seat scrabbled for her phone. ‘I was only trying to help.’
They did a figure eight through the crowded streets to no avail. There was nowhere to park.
‘I want to hear about these parking saints,’ said the woman in the back.
‘No you don’t,’ said the driver.
‘Yes I do!’
The man found a Mintie and gave it to his partner. She started chewing.
The others waited.
More car spaces failed to appear.
‘Okay,’ said the driver. ‘Tell us about the bloody parking saints for Chrissake.’
The man smiled. ‘Well, the first parking saint lived in France. Her name’s St Therese. People call her the Little Flower. She died in 1897.’
‘How many cars were around in 1897?’
The man looked hurt. ‘She looks after little things.’
‘Parking isn’t a little thing. It’s a big thing!’
Up ahead, the driver glimpsed a space, but a guy in a Volvo instantly claimed it. ‘Oh bloody hell,’ she said.
‘Tell us about the other parking saint,’ said the woman in the back.
‘The other one was an American. She was called Frances Xavier Cabrini.’
‘Sounds like a cabbie,’ said the driver.
‘She was a nun,’ said the man. ‘She died of malaria. Her head’s in Rome but most of her is in New York.’
‘There are many doors, aren’t there?’ said the woman in the back, dreamily.
‘In New York?’
‘No, silly, doors to the spiritual realm. I believe every tradition has something to teach us. Parking karma and parking saints are probably all connected, somehow.’
The man nodded solemnly as the driver yanked her car around another corner. ‘This would have to be the most idiotic conversation I’ve ever heard,’ she said. ‘I’m embarrassed to know both of you.’
‘That’s not very nice,’ said the man.
‘I know what we can do. We’ll help you together!’ said the woman in the back.
‘The best way you could help would be to not talk for the rest of the day.’
But her friend sailed on merrily. ‘We’ll overcome your terrible parking karma by transferring our positive energy to you, with our hands. On the count of three. One…’
‘Don’t touch me.’
‘I said don’t touch me!’
The woman touched the driver’s shoulder as her partner touched her leg.
Instantly, a parking space appeared right in front of them.
Both passengers beamed at the driver.
‘Don’t. Say. A thing,’ she said.